9 Questions to Ask Before Accepting People into Your Survival Group

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We talk about it all the time and it has been the subject of countless debates both on the Prepper Journal and other sites out there. The scenario goes something like this: TEOTWAWKI has happened. The causes could be any one of hundreds, but the reality you are living in has gotten so bad that all your planning and preparing are being put into action. This is no longer a hypothetical exercise, it is a survival situation.

You, your family and closest friends are locked and loaded in your bunker/suburban home with all of your prepping supplies, plenty of potable water, medicines, food to last 12 months and what you hope is enough firepower to keep any two-legged predators at bay. At least long enough so that they can die on someone else’s doorstep.

But inevitably, your group will need to grow. It could be that you need additional people to help with the daily tasks of maintaining a large enough garden, one that produces enough food for you and your family to eat on as well as extra to store away for the winter. You might need someone with skills at repairing machinery, or tending to your livestock that you started to raise right before it all went south. You might need people who can expand your solar panel powered electric system and make sense of all those volts, amps and watts you never had time to learn. You could need extra people for defense because you and your friends simply can’t guard the perimeter that you have identified 24 hours a day, get dozens of gallons of water from the creek and work a full day on food production to help keep things running.

Your survival group must grow to survive

I know what some of you are thinking. You should have all of these skills taken care of and identified well in advance of this hypothetical TEOTWAWKI I am talking about and in a perfect world I would agree. You would also be located 50 miles from the nearest person hidden by some magical Disney waterfall that nobody ever finds. However, reality is a different kind of movie. Even if I stopped working my day job and the extra jobs (including this blog) and devoted myself completely to learning everything I could, I would still only be one person. Well, you should be finding like-minded people now who could join your survival group and start training you say.

Yes, I know. As much as I’d like, I haven’t found that to be the case in my life and I would bet you a frosty beer that most of you are in the same boat. Yes, we each may have made tremendous strides at becoming prepared, but you simply can’t do it all by yourself.

Assuming you are not like me (or the rest of us) and you already have a group of 12 tactically trained people, a pristine bug out location and specialists in every skill like the characters in Patriots, even you and your extremely squared away group will eventually need to add new people to the team. People get hurt and die. People grow old and unless you plan on walking the woods your entire life, sticking to the shadows and remaining Ninja invisible you need to consider what questions you might be forced to ask people before you accept them into your survival group.

Making the Cut

The shoe might be on the other foot as well and you might find yourself looking to join another group because for one reason or another you are alone. It can happen. Just because we all have plans for the remote retreat, doesn’t mean they will come to pass. Someone might roll into your retreat, past your neat little rows of Kale and kill everyone in there except for you. You could go out in a hail of bullets, but what if that isn’t your style? Assuming that you weren’t the unfortunate victim of a larger survival/criminal group that wanted what you had and possessed the skills or luck to take it from you, what if you encountered people who wanted to be a part of your group? What are some questions you can ask yourself to decide if someone is worthy of coming into your group?


What are some questions you can ask yourself to decide if someone is worthy of coming into your group? Do you take the risk?

This list below is just examples, but cover a lot of different scenarios I think. Let’s say someone approaches your retreat location/home on the cul-de-sac. They are walking and your security team is alerted well in advance to their approach. After initial conversations held from behind the business end of superior firepower, you believe them to not be a threat and invite them over to talk. This traveler says they have been walking for weeks and want to know if they can join your group.

1. Do you trust them? – To me this is the first test, but I wouldn’t think this is a check-box you can knock off right at first. I believe there are several levels of trust. I may trust a stranger to talk to my children, maybe play a game with them at the playground, but I wouldn’t turn my back on them for a second. Do you get any vibes off this person that doesn’t feel right? Do they get worse or better as you talk to them?

2. Do they bring skills/resources your group needs? – I brought up the subject of being a hired gun in an earlier post and I can see that as a potential skill in a true collapse assuming you needed bodies and this person was able and willing to do that and more. What if they are a nurse and have medical training? What if this person is a mechanic and they know how to fix that tractor your neighbor left behind before they high tailed it out-of-town? What if they are a carpenter and can build onto your house and make the existing structure safer? There are many skills that I think could be useful and this person might enable your group to be much better off. Additionally, they could bring gear or supplies or some other resource your group needs.

3. Do you have the resources to support them? – Another mouth to feed. Yes, this is what we are routinely concerned with. You have stored up enough food supplies for you and your family, but nobody else. Any extra mouths to feed would take food away from your children. This is certainly true, but it is also short-sighted potentially. What if this extra person could help you produce 100% more food? Would that be worth the short-term reduction in your overall food storage supplies? What if they were a skilled trapper and had dozens of small game snares in their pack and could teach you how to make your own? I mean that actually caught animals….

4. What situation brought them to your door? – You can only ask them what put them on the road, but they might have intelligence that could help you and your group out. They may have been from places you no longer know about, or can share what is happening there. Did they get kicked out of another group? That could also be very telling.

5. How desperate/charitable are you? – This could change greatly with the day on which the stranger appears. Charity can be established and given without necessarily bringing a stranger into your house. If you want to provide charity to this person you still can and should. Maybe you don’t trust them enough to let them into your group, but you do want to help them out. Times like this call for a plan for dispensing charity that doesn’t put you or anyone else in your group at risk. The flip-side of this coin may be that you do want to let them in. It could be that you desperately need medical skills he has because your wife is ill or dying. All of this needs to be weighed out.

6. How well do you know this person? – In this case it is a stranger, but people you know could walk down your street just as easily. Actually, I think it will be the people we know who come knocking before complete strangers do. Someone who knows you might assume that you will at least talk to them before running them off with the shotgun. A stranger might get a different kind of greeting. Assuming this is an acquaintance, how well do you know their character?

7. Do others in your group know the person? – Same as above. You might find yourself in a situation where someone in your group knows the person who is begging to come in. This could be friends of your children or spouse. It could be other group member’s parents. At some level, knowing the person you are considering for inclusion is better than a complete stranger, but that doesn’t guarantee they will be any better for your group.

8. What do others in your group think? – On many things I have an almost immediate gut-level reaction. I usually know one way or another which way I will decide but I do realize that most of the situations I find myself in daily involve trivial matters. It really doesn’t hurt too bad if I make a mistake now. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, one mistake could get myself and others killed. On large matters like adding a new person to your group, it would make sense to get a vote from every one of the adult members. Dissent should be discussed and even complete agreement should be carefully considered.

9. What does your gut say? – Going back to the gut, my favorite measuring device. Trust your gut, provided it has served you well in the past. If you have a history of making bad decisions, perhaps you should trust someone else’s gut. Usually mine is pretty reliable. Hopefully yours will be too.

So that’s my argument for the potential of considering outsiders for inclusion into your group at some point down the line. I am sure there are those who disagree. Let me know what you think. Would you ever allow anyone into your group?


  1. MK

    October 21, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    The first thing I’d do it pray about them. God will tell me if danger lurks. Second I’d Facebook ’em. I would never allow someone into my inner circle for months. The risks might outweigh the benefits.

    • RAPTOR 555

      October 21, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      I would vote against anybody that didn’t contribute supplies (food, water, arms, ammo, etc.) to the group and would never join a group that consists of too many of these people. Most people never plan ahead for emergencies and some actually laugh at preppers calling them paranoid wackos. ALL of my neighbors and many of my friends fall into this category. I know this because I’ve asked them all one question, “What do you think of those preppers out there?” and dropped the subject after I got their answer whether it was positive or negative: None of these people know we’re preppers and never will sans my adult family that I know are preppers or what our plans are if the SHTF. This is important information that all preppers must know ahead of time as part of their prepping and not knowing could be hazardous to their health. I trust nobody except my immediate family who are also preppers and especially those that badmouth preppers and are unprepared. Everybody must live, or die, with the choices they make in life. There are only two very poor people we know that we would help because we know they could never afford to prep.

      • MK

        October 21, 2015 at 11:46 pm

        Wow! What a great idea, asking “What do you think of those preppers out there?” Finding out their view without exposing yours.
        I can’t express how important it is to be quiet about prepping to those who live nearby. Here’s a tragic story about a prepper. A man had been saving money for 30 years. Seeing the economy worsening he started to buy silver. He converted his money to $750 K in silver. One day while talking to his best friend on the phone he told his friend he was at peace because he bought a $3K safe to hold his 750K of silver. The friend answered how great it was to have a safe to store his 750K of silver. Unfortunately, his son overheard the
        conversation. Later that day the son casually told a friend how crazy it was that this guy had 750K in silver at home in a safe and not in a bank. The next day the son’s friend visited the old man and persuaded him to open the safe. All it took was one ounce of lead pointed at his head. All gone, never to be recovered. A life of saving, gone because of one mistake. Thankfully he made it out alive.
        When folks are starving and not thinking rationally they might just take your life for a cupboard of food.

        • RAPTOR 555

          October 22, 2015 at 12:28 am

          ‘MUM’ is the key word for any prepper, and any non-prepper for that matter, and that also goes for any propriatory information you may have. Even our immediate family has no idea what assets we possess and will only find that out when we pass. Your story about the silver is a good example how things can go horribly wrong. I’m from the Greatest Generation (WWII era) and always remember the slogan of the times; “Loose lips sink ships.” That’s as valid today as it was then.

        • STEVEN LUCAS

          June 14, 2017 at 4:43 pm

          Great story. It’s not the friend who robs you, but the friends, sons neighors brother who needs drug money.

    • Elizabeth

      October 22, 2015 at 12:42 am

      Ohhh MK! At the risk of sounding like someone’s mom (so I’m gonna sound like a mom); to me, in a real SHTF scenario, there would be no such thing as Facebook…you’d be out of luck looking in social media, you’d be on your own. In a true SHTF scenario, even if there were access, every keystroke would represent a risk. Really good con artists are really good at what they do, internet history or no, so I don’t consider that to be a valid reference check.

      I’m sincerely rooting for your God to help you through – as that resource, in my experience is a valid source of truth in whatever practice it is found, but (being a mom again) just be sure you’re listening to what is said and not running it through a preconceived filter. Sometimes that voice tells us what we don’t want to hear…


    • Pat Henry

      October 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

      I know what you mean MK. I think in a situation like I described I would be praying already from the moment they started walking towards us. Your point about closeness is good though and I didn’t dig too deeply into that. Maybe you let them in but they are on probation, limited responsibilities and trust for a period of time.

    • Sue

      October 22, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      If the grid is down, chances are the networks are out. This only works before SHTF; prayer works ALL the time regardless if the power’s on or not.

      • MK

        October 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm

        Of course IF the grid goes down then a background check via Facebook wouldn’t work. IMHO I think there will be a stock market crash that will bring America into chaos. If the grid is down, will are attacked and that brings a whole different situation.
        The most important thing is prayer works all the time. Our first line of defense. : )

      • John

        October 23, 2015 at 12:48 pm

        But you don’t always get an immediate answer. Sometimes an immediate solution is required.

    • M. "Wyatt" Howell

      October 15, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      There will probably be no internet or Facebook for a long while.

    • nick

      June 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

      How will you Facebook them when there is no facebook?

  2. RAPTOR 555

    October 21, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    I would vote against anybody that didn’t contribute supplies (food, water, arms, ammo, etc.) to the group and would never join a group that consists of too many of these people. Most people never plan ahead for emergencies and some actually laugh at preppers calling them paranoid wackos and/or gun nuts merely because they don’t want or like guns and don’t want others to have them either (gun control freaks). ALL of our neighbors and some of our acquaintences fall into this category. I know this because I’ve asked them all one question, “What do you think of those preppers out there?” and dropped the subject after I got their answer whether it was positive or negative. None of these people know we’re preppers and never will sans my adult family that I know are preppers or what our plans are if the SHTF. This is important information that all preppers must know ahead of time as part of their prepping and not knowing could be hazardous to their health and positively to their supplies. I trust nobody, except my immediate family and very close friends who are also preppers, and especially those that badmouth preppers and are unprepared. Everybody must live, or die, with the choices they make in life. There are only two friends that are very poor people we know that we would help because we know they could never afford to prep.

  3. Bolofia

    October 22, 2015 at 1:08 am

    If you allow someone inside your compound and feed them while your group is deciding whether to let them join up, you’ve provided all sorts of intel they can use against you if you turn them away. They will know how many people you have, how well fed you are, how many able bodied men and firearms you may have, whether you have crops under cultivation, how well organized you are, etc. Ten miles down the road they may share that information with a group of raiders. I would certainly ask those questions, and maybe a few more, but not in a setting that places me or my group at potential risk.

    • Pat Henry

      October 22, 2015 at 8:41 am

      That’s a great point Bolo. I was just saying to MK that a probationary period with limited access, trust and responsibilities would probably be wise.

    • Sue

      October 22, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Although the points are valid, there’s also this issue called “not all preppers are at the same level as you”, so are you going to turn people who tried like hell, can’t do it all, but came to the game a little late away? You have to remember something else – Matt 25…what you do for the least of my brothers, you’ve done it unto ME. Do you really want God’s hand against you at the very moment you need it most? If you can’t trust God’s opinion and you “need” a “trial/probationary period”, then you’ve got bigger problems than a poor soul knocking at your door for help.

      • John

        October 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm

        I hear what you’re saying Sue, but consider this as well. God commands us to be good stewards. I CANNOT imagine letting just anyone, anytime but especially during TEOTWAWKI, into my home and feeding them without some level of security measure. Whether this is getting to know them first, finding out who they talked to so that they had my address etc, I am not having some complete strangers in my house without being ready, willing, and able to put them 6 foot under if they start something.

      • Bolofia

        October 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm

        If they get as close as my front door before I become aware of them, then shame on me. Believe me, I share your motives for Christian charity, but I don’t think you understand the extent that desperate people will go to strip you of everything you have, including your life.

      • M. "Wyatt" Howell

        October 15, 2016 at 11:31 pm

        I believe God calls for us to be discerning, yes ?

  4. CSATexas

    October 22, 2015 at 2:09 am

    Find out who they are what they can contribute.

    If they look like trouble and are let’s say pipw fitter. You might want to examine if he is worth the trouble.

    On the other hand of he is a doctor, I would make allowances for his personality.

    • freebird4533@yahoo.com

      November 1, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      What if they are a 50 year old woman with food, supplies and money? Would you take me?

      • CSATexas

        November 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        I would start with helping anyone, then see what they have to offer.

      • M. "Wyatt" Howell

        October 15, 2016 at 11:32 pm

        I would. Come to Montana 🙂 As long as you can shoot straight !

  5. Super Steve

    October 22, 2015 at 4:32 am

    I would make it TEN Questions, Are they strongly religious or strongly political, if so no way are they coming in. I don’t want any bible, torah , quoran or others trying to influence issues based upon religious or political ideology. I want level headed real world movers and shifters. I don’t give a toss if they are black, white, Christian, buddist, jewish, muslim, atheist, hindu, Sikh, straight, bi, gay, liberals, democrats, tories, or Tea party. I only want those who have already expressed the level headed wisdom of embracing prepping as part of their lifestyle.

    • Pat Henry

      October 22, 2015 at 8:44 am

      I understand what you mean Steve, but their beliefs or rather the strength of their beliefs shouldn’t matter either. It is how they get along with their fellow man/woman. You might have an extremely devout Christian and an extremely devote Muslim (who didn’t want to kill everyone who was an infidel) and they could get along perfectly fine. It is those who are comfortable in their own beliefs and do not try to impose their view of the world on others that would seem to be more important.

      I agree with you that your color, or religion don’t matter much, but your character.

      • freebird4533@yahoo.com

        November 1, 2015 at 3:32 pm

        No muslims – are you insane? They are the reason we have to have this discussion!

    • M. "Wyatt" Howell

      October 15, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Well said…and I agree. I had lot’s of partners in the service, and we all watched one another’s “six”. Don’t care about skin color, never did – as MLK said, it’s the context of one’s character that matters. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ab83ab82f82792f6a84c548e7cbdd08446ff4c7909af9f1e04a17a05ed84abb.jpg

  6. Super Steve

    October 22, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Ask em this, Which is the first and most important part of their preps?
    If they point to a gun, say goodbye, if they point to their brains bring em in.

    • MK

      October 22, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      And if they say getting on their knees for Divine intervention, give ’em a hug and a bowl of soup. : )

  7. Illini Warrior

    October 22, 2015 at 8:31 am

    letting anyone in should only be on an intern basis – a “getting to know you period” – set the vote for full membership later ….

    doesn’t mean the initial interview is any less severe – you’ll be divulging your entire operation to this stranger ….

  8. Bolofia

    October 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Another way to look at the scenario that you’ve used: In the aftermath of a TEOTWAWKI event, anyone seeking to be admitted to your group will not be a prepper; that’s why they are on the road in the first place. They will not be dragging several hundred pounds of food, ammo or anything else with them. And, they will absolutely be on foot after the first 24-48 hours. Anyone trying to reach a distant destination (say 50 or more miles beyond your location) is simply passing through, and their motive for stopping at your compound will be for charity. So the question is do you want to become a food dispensary with no prospect for a return on investment – that is, an extension or improvement of your own group’s survival prospects? What you can’t know is how long your food has to hold out.

    I honestly don’t know how to weigh the trust factor when I don’t already know the people, have some kind of bond with them and share a common set of values or objectives. There are people I know that I trust implicitly, and others that I know
    well enough to not trust at all. When the STHF, I would opt for trusting no one headed in my direction.

    • Sue

      October 22, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Anyone out on the road may in fact be a prepper – they could’ve been wiped out in a weather event or overpowered and cleaned out. Not everyone is at the same prepared level, so not everyone will have guns. Chances are good you won’t find too many on the roads in a SHTF scenario because the government will be rounding up “strays” and shipping them to tent cities or FEMA camps.

      • Bolofia

        October 23, 2015 at 11:40 am

        You make the assumption that there would be a functioning government. I don’t. If the government still had a capacity to provide food and shelter (which I doubt) I would refer any group that I could not support or did not trust in the direction of the FEMA camp. I prep to support my family. That’s Biblical, too. In fact, it’s mandatory.

    • John

      October 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      I also am not sure that anyone on the road gets ruled out of the “prepper” catagory. What happens if you and your family where headed home from vacation when Schumer shows up? You’re nor at home, but you are a prepper. Not trying to say that you are wrong about most people, just think maybe a little more on the ground reading is required than a blanket statement.

  9. Chuck Findlay

    October 23, 2015 at 11:30 am

    I could imagine several ways a person that was a prepper could find themselves wondering about so a blanket statement of anyone not in a group is a non-prepper is not realistic.

    I prep a LOT and have lots of everything most preppers have and a lot of things many preppers haven’t thought of because I’ve been at it since the 1990’s

    If I were to find I lost everything and were roaming about I have a lot of skills that any group would value. But just as they would cross examine me to see if I made the grade, I would require they do the same. I would rather go on alone then to join a group of people that were not well able to meet my idea of a group that could survive. And the person in charge better be balanced mentally as no one wants to be under the boot of a dictator.

    I have what I would call extensive abuse by people wanting things fixed, made, built and then not coming through with the agreed price. Meaning they didn’t pay me or thought it was not important enough to pay in a trimly manor. Many times people will bug me almost non-stop to fix something that needs fixed NOW, but once it’s fixed they go for weeks ignoring my calls telling them it’s repaired (I have a handyman / repair business) and therefore denying me the money that I earned fixing or making what they wanted done. I’m dealing with just this right now as I repaired something and the guy is giving me excuse after excuse for not paying me. Any time now I expect to hear him say his dog ate the money.

    I don’t see this getting any better post SHTF so it would be even harder for them to convince me to come into their group then it would be for them to decide to take me in. To prove myself all they would have to do is point me to anything broke (electronic items, anything in a home, autos, pretty much everything) and it’s likely I can fix it as this is what I have been doing since childhood. A group will have to work hard to prove to me that they are worthy of my skill set before I give it to people that may not pull their own weight or be able to survive.

    And who says a group that you run across is going to be preppers, it’s just as likely they could be a group of non-preppers that banded together after the event and may not have a real prepper mentality that most of us here have. After all 99% of people are not preppers and this will probably be who you would run into.

  10. SeanRobinson

    October 23, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    The most dangerous and untrustworthy person in an emergency is a paranoid moron. That is why, in the end and despite your preparation, you will die alone.

    • Chuck Findlay

      November 18, 2015 at 4:35 am

      You read a few paragraphs of words and you label me “a paranoid moron”? Wow do you have serious problems and are not a very good judge of a person. This is just why I said I would put questions and standards of conduct to any group just like they would do me. No paranoid moron, just a bit of common sense judgment.

      • SeanRobinson

        November 18, 2015 at 5:58 am

        Yeah, a total lack of self-awareness is yet another reason you’d be functionally useless in a crisis, crazy pants. Keep writing fanfiction of the end of the world so that you can create a reality in which you matter even the tiniest bit though.

  11. stonedwolf

    October 24, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    What if they don’t have a gun but are really good at hand-to-hand anti-zombie combat?

  12. godisvictorious

    January 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    we know the gov’t has moles on Facebook twitter etc and in local governments. tough to know whom to trust


    June 14, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I wonder if I have that bottom line courage to send away neighbors or freinds who we don’t have the resources to care for.Do you become an orphanage for those left at your door? Do the members of the tribe have that ability? If everybody allows in their favorite cousin and classmate in school, then you become too large for the resources. Does the tribe have the ability to send the lazy, shiftless sorts packing? Will those new folks agree to your tyranny or insist on not honoring the ranking system? Will these new fols see you as a mayor that must do what THEY SAY.

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