My Neighborhood is My Uzi

Have you heard the comment that some people keep a submachine gun on top of their food storage to protect their emergency supplies from their neighbors?  I don't personally know anyone like that, but I've heard a lot of people talk about their fears that not enough people around them will be prepared for a crisis. Though they want to help their neighbors, they're afraid they won't have enough food and supplies to go around.

Just how much food and supplies would you have to store so that you would have enough to share with the neighborhood and still have enough for your family? Let's see, the basic food storage lists say that a man needs 300 pounds of wheat for a year's supply.  If you only worry about the 10 families who live right around you, including your own family, and each home averages 4.3 people per family, that's 43 times 300. You'll only need to keep 12,900 pounds of wheat on hand. You'll need three five-gallon buckets per 100 pounds of wheat, so that's a mere 387 buckets. Along these same lines, you'll need 13,000 pounds of rice, 2,600 pounds of honey, 215 pounds of salt, 1,000 pounds of powdered milk, 43 sleeping bags, 10 tents, 129 cords of wood, 1,100 gallons of water (for two weeks of water), and 690 more buckets. I tried going this route for a while--until my house sank through the earth's crust from sheer weight--and then I was forced to give it up.

People ask me questions every day about individual family preparedness.  It's thrilling that more and more people are wanting to get prepared.  Emergency preparedness is something I've believed in all my life. Gratefully now, I notice with increasing frequency that people are realizing no individual family can be prepared enough if their neighborhood isn't prepared. In my mind, this leaves four options:

1) throw up your hands and don't get prepared
2) polish your Uzi
3) get your own family prepared and hope for the best-- or
4) help your neighbors get prepared while you prepare your own family.

Five years ago, my friend and I started NEIGHBORHOOD emergency preparedness projects in our two consecutive neighborhoods.  We had the idea that if we worked together as neighborhoods to get prepared, we could help each other, thus making it lots easier for all of us to overcome inertia, and make friends and build community at the same time. It came down to doing three simple things:

1) organizing each neighborhood into groups of 10 families each with captains over each group and with a pre-determined meeting location called a staging area for everyone to meet at in times of crisis
2) doing group buys on preparedness items, and
3) getting simple rescue and first aid training for large numbers of people from each neighborhood

The idea was so successful for us that Neighbors Uniting Provo decided to sponsor this plan as a grassroots movement throughout Provo and Utah Valley.  It's now called the 3 Stepsplan:
3 Steps to Family and Neighborhood Emergency Preparednessand it's spreading across the country.  Any neighborhood can do this. It is so easy--lots easier, actually, than just getting your own family prepared--and much more effective and fun. In my neighborhood people love each other. We'll never need to do a group buy on Uzis. You can live in fear if you want to; or instead, just order a copy of the 3 Steps booklet  and repeat what we've done.  If you live in Utah you can contact us to give your neighborhood an initial training meeting.  We'll teach you how to implement the 3 Steps plan in your neighborhood and help you get started. Right now we have 13 cities and dozens of neighborhoods in Utah doing this plan. We're sad for those of you whose neighborhoods aren't yet represented. If you want this to happen in your neighborhood, you have two choices: be the chairman yourself, or find someone else who you know could do it. (You can even appoint yourself as that person's co-chair.)  I feel safe in my neighborhood--not just from crime--but because I know that my neighbors are organized, ready, trained, and have a plan to help each other. Having all those people on my side is a lot better than having an Uzi, don't you think?