Survival Debate: Take In or Turn Away

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By Joel Jefferson •  3 min read

One of the most basic questions survivalists and preppers wrestle with is what to do if unplanned guests turn up at your door in a SHTF situation. Do you take them in and divide your supplies or turn them away and protect your family?

Taking People In

Taking people in can offer numerous benefits such as the more people you have the larger your security force is, you have more people to help with the workload, your conscience will be clear, and the people at your door may not be strangers but friend’s and family.

On the other side of the coin, the more people you bring into your group the quicker supplies will get used up. Larger groups of people will also be more difficult to conceal and will require a clear leader.



Turning People Away

The most obvious positives of turning someone away is that the supplies you have will last much longer and whatever plans you have will not be altered. Additionally, if the person you are turning away is a stranger then you will not have to worry about a person with an unknown history in your group.

Believe it or not though, there are some downsides to turning a person away. Most people enjoy the feeling of helping others and turning someone away in need, is not going to feel so good.

That feeling may or may not pass in time but there is a more pressing and urgent security risk of turning people away. First, your position is now given away as the person now knows there are people living where you are. Secondly, if you are hunkered down behind closed doors, that person can reasonably assume you have supplies. This means that if their situation does not improve, they could come back and try to take what they want.



Middle Ground

The only middle ground here is to offer the beggars some supplies, but send them on their way. In my opinion this might be the best option because you preserve your status as a good person to them and you can justify the guilt of not taking people in to yourself.

Obviously, this opens you up to several security risks. The people then know you have food and supplies and may come back, either peacefully or not.

Where do you stand?

This might be the most difficult and humanizing survival debate we’ve had so far, and not something to decide quickly.

Really think about living with yourself after this decision, whether turning people away to possibly die, or taking food directly out of your family’s mouths for others.

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.