… and How to Stop Hell Raising Crime and Violent Home Invasions Before They Happen
The prepper supplies that make this list may stun a lot of readers. Food and water are useless if you don’t have any security from rampant crime or against armed militants who are taking entire towns and chasing out or killing residents.
Here’s a list that may change the way you look at prepper supplies…
This Creates A Need For Prepper Commodities
Prepper commodities may actually be what saves your life when it comes to choosing prepper supplies. You see, you never know what someone else has that could come in handy in some important way — so having a few key items that you can trade with and that are likely to be in short supply could be life savers on multiple occasions.
With these items, we’re preparing you not for a world where you need to survive in the wild, or one where you need to shelter in place for years (maybe because of a nuclear or biological attack). These supplies will prove the most useful if the world essentially turns into Max Max – warring factions of gangs, criminals on the loose, lawlessness and so forth.
This Makes You A “Commodity Trader”
First, a few rules to consider.
Keep your personal business as a commodity trader off the radar of the general public. If things get bleak in your region, and stores have closed or run low on resources, you become a likely target of an armed robbery if word gets around the neighborhood that you have supplies to trade.
It’s probably best that the your community has no idea that you are sitting on a number of barter commodities. As a rule, never let on to anyone just how much you have, always giving the impression that you don’t have much at all.
Finally, attempt to make sure that anyone who does know about your supplies, stockpiles, and cache of commodities respects your privacy. Let them know that you don’t want the wider community to know the extent of your preparedness because you worry about a home invasion. It’s an honest request and it’s one that most people should be in agreement with – at least anybody who has any respect for you.
It all comes down to this, as much as possible, only trade and work with people you believe you can trust. That’s still not a guarantee but it helps limit your risk.
Prepper Supplies That Serve As Commodities
Food, water tanks, water filtration devices, rifles, and handguns go without saying. In any kind of collapse, these are immediate needs due to the sudden surge in crime that will take place if stores shut their doors to the public or looting that will cause stores to close to the public. Rifles allow multiple kinds of hunting (though you may have to travel a ways out to get to where the game are) and handguns help give people a way to defend themselves from possible post-collapse crime.
Further down you’ll learn how a rifle may actually be the weapon that saves your life (and how to use it accordingly) and how handguns can fail you and potentially cost you your life in the end.
It’s A Safe Bet That “Security” Will Be In High Demand
There is likely to be a growing demand as the days and weeks pass for items (and people) that help out with “security”. In times of chaos, safety and security become “in-demand” and self defense skills and weapons will be highly sought after.
The longer time passes, the more these items are likely to become in high demand and also relative scarcity.
Better Than Gold And Silver? Potentially Much Better
Remember, this list we are giving you today is suggesting key security devices and other prepper supplies and survival tools that you can barter with in exchange for everything from labor, to food, to armed security (people you hire and pay with commodities to work as a security force for your property and even community at large).
Commodities Can Score You Fresh Survival Foods
Hunting and trapping are long time proven survival skills, yet these are skills only a fraction of people in the modern world possess today and can turn to post collapse. If you have commodities you can trade with, you can work long term with hunters and trappers.
They go out for large game; you give them key items in exchange for bringing you back a few hundred pounds of meat, even allowing them to keep some meat for themselves (you both make out well).
You don’t even have to get your hands dirty if that’s not your thing. With enough commodities, you’ll be able to find the labor to put to work butchering game and preparing meat for long term primitive food storage.
Communities Survive By Working Together
This is how communities in earlier centuries survived and thrived in many instances. Historically, the keys to a community’s survival often revolved around people working together and also having a well trained and well armed security force… more reasons why prepping with key security items listed here can be what saves your life and that of your family and community in the end.
If You Haven’t Prepped With Security Devices, You Are Underestimating The Threat From Rampant Crime
If we lose the government, and we lose infrastructure and much of what could be considered local police, we are going to see a rampant rise in crime as those who didn’t prepare adequately go after anyone in their community that looks like an easy target.
My heart breaks for single moms with children and a lot of old folks out there likely to meet an end following a violent home invasion (more reasons for people to get their lives right with God and pray for some serious Godly protection post collapse; without it, eventually, you’re a goner).
Prepare For A Mass Release Of Prisoners
Many of those home invasions are likely to be the result of high numbers of prisoners being released nationwide as officials (following a government collapse or EMP and loss of the power grid, etc.) make a probable decision to let “lower risk” inmates go free, while doing God only knows what to those deemed high risk.
Where are these released inmates going to get food? Where are they going to get supplies? Where are they going to get transportation? Many will turn to crime. It’s all some of them know. Some may be hundreds of miles from the nearest family member … you can only imagine how this can create a spiral of crime out in the countryside where some of our nation’s prisons are located (if you’re paying attention). And these are the low risk inmates that are let loose I’m talking about.
One plan for releasing low risk inmates may be to bus them across county or state lines by the hundreds and then let them go. Then it’s “someone else’s problem” could go the thinking of some prison officials.
Some Cons May Be Good People
Remember, a lot of these may be “low risk” inmates at the ends of their sentences and not bad people at all; they served their time, got off the alcohol, drugs, etc. and now just like the rest of us, want to survive or find loved ones that live somewhere nearby. Though many attend prison chapel services just to get more time out of their cell, some truly do find Christ behind bars and lives are transformed. Don’t forget these facts. They may be some good people to know.
Many Dangerous, High Risk Inmates Likely To Get Free Also
That doesn’t mean communities are safe from high risk inmates. Once prisoners across the nation discover the news of a government collapse, there is likely to be an explosion of riots resulting in mass escapes as the most violent inmates realize that if they don’t riot and take over the prison and get the heck out of there, they may not have much longer to live. What if there’s a “worst case scenario” plan for executions? And so many will riot.
Prisons That Turn Into War Zones
The nation’s most violent prisons are likely to turn into war zones within the first few hours. If guards are overpowered, now these inmates have firearms and the first thing they’re going after is the prison armory, where guards keep an arsenal of guns, ammunition, body armor, SWAT shields, and even uniforms (if you see anyone post collapse wearing the uniform of a prison guard, realize that may not be a guard at all…)
Then they’ll load up prison buses and prison suburbans and simply drive themselves out and potentially raid the first town they come to; some will end up in a fire fight with National Guard troops when they encounter a road block several miles down the interstate; if these prisoners are now dressed like prison guards the National Guard troops could end up ambushed and losing their lives, vehicles, uniforms and weapons, having had no news by radio of a mass prison escape. How can they get news if the power grid goes down and their two-way radios are out of range? The National Guard has no idea what is about to drive up on them.
National Guard Units … Ambushed?
Great. Now these violent escapees can put on National Guard uniforms, take humvees loaded with heavy military weapons, and take out the next National Guard unit or possibly state troopers they encounter later on along the interstate.
Have you taken the time to figure out where prisons in your region of the country are located? Does it even matter when prison officials may make the decision to bus “low risk” inmates across county or state lines and then simply let them go?
Top 10 Prepper Supplies: Life-Saving Security Devices For Dealing With Serious Crime And Dangerous Crooks
1) Night Vision Monocular – Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular –
Night vision devices are going to become in high demand, yet they will be hard to come by because not many people have any kind of night vision device. In the modern world, who needs one? But that first night without electricity, and those nagging fears that someone could be prowling outside your home intent on doing your family harm and taking everything you have in a robbery, makes a night vision device likely to be a desired commodity.
Due to prices starting in the low hundreds of dollars and going up from there for more advanced versions including military grade headsets, night vision devices have a lot of trading power and personal use on top of that.
2) Second Chance Ballistic Vest – Second Chance Monarch MR01 Ballistic Vest, With SPA2 Carrier & 5×8 Soft Trauma Plate –
Essentially, America, the U.K., Canada, Australia and other Western nations following a collapse are looking at life a lot like life in third world countries in the modern day. Several of these countries are crawling with armed gangs, militants, as well as citizens fed up with crime, forming community watch groups and security forces in an effort to fight back and protect their communities and children. This is common in a number of places within modern day Mexico where in fact several community groups have formed, in a way becoming vigilantes. According to reports, they have succeeded in many ways at chasing out crooks and helping save lives.
Whether you’re part of a community watch group, or not, body armor enhances a persons ability to survive gunfire and thus is likely to be a commodity in demand with high worth in a post-collapse world.
3) Razor Wire Ribbon Barbed Wire – Razor Wire Razor Ribbon Barbed Wire 18″ 1 Coil 50 Feet –
Here’s another item that will be a needed commodity in a land without government or local police. Fears of rampant crime make rolls of barbed wire and razor wire items that most of your neighbors are likely to feel safer with if they can use around their home and property. Barbed wire can be used as a perimeter defense, with razor wire being used for protection closer to where you actually live and sleep.
When using barbed wire around your property, don’t forget to include steel fence posts (T-posts) and set in a straight line; industry specs say to space your posts 8-12 feet apart as a general rule; though 10-12 feet apart is typically sufficient for a 5-6 wire barbed fence.
Ideally you’ll have a good survival multi-tool with you to be able to cut and manipulate this wire – it’s not something that’s really appropriate to put around your home in these peaceful times, so it’s really something you should be looking to install only if something catastrophic happens in America or the world.
If you’re creative you’re likely to find multiple ways to run several rolls of barbed wire in ways that make your home “look” secure. Just the act of using barbed wire in fact can detour a number of crooks as barbed wire tends to make users look a bit more prepared for home security. Razor wire amps it up even more. Remember, most crooks are looking for an easy target with limited risk. Spying your security defenses from afar may detour most but the boldest criminals (you’ll need to be ready for them as well; more on that below).
If you have a second barbed wire fence installed closer to your home, you can consider keeping security dogs behind it. This keeps your security dogs behind the inner fence (where they can still be seen and be a deterrent) and far away from the outer fence and possibly being shot or poisoned by crooks who could be prowling nearby.
Barbed wire isn’t a guarantee that you’ll keep away prowlers. For the most part, barbed wire is just a “show” of security. By using it, you are hoping that prowlers decide that you may be armed and dangerous as well. Razor wire is a much better choice if you really want to send a message to crooks that you take home security seriously. Use it around common entry points, namely porches, doors and windows, and even on the inside of window frames (as long as any children in your home understand it’s not to be messed with. If you have pets or livestock, be aware that razor wire can slice them in life threatening ways and needs to be a consideration if or when used around animals.)
4. Steel Scrap
There’s a reason that drug lords are known to build heavily fortified compounds — it’s for protection from other cartels.
As reports of violent crime circulate through many regions following a collapse, there is likely going to be a huge desire in the general population for home security and any number of fortifications that help make a home, property, and entire neighborhood more secure. We don’t condone drug lords in any way but do recognize that their dangerous line of work calls for seriously beefed up security, and in many instances, this does help them stay protected (though not always).
That brings us to steel.
Having various shapes and thicknesses of steel allows a person to bulletproof or reinforce key doors and windows as well as enclosed “diy” guard posts, where, if you have the means, a look out can be posted and yet be protected from most gun fire by arranging and setting in place various sizes and shapes of steel.
Some military grade weapons have the ability to put bullets through steel, which, in this case either means more steel is needed or, even better, an early awareness that the crooks outside your gates at that particular moment are about to use some heavy weapons stolen from a local army base and capable of serious destruction.
Don’t try to hold your ground and instead have an escape plan for “abandoning ship” and getting out of ‘dodge. Working with outlying neighbors and having a community watch group constantly on alert may be the only notice you have that a dangerous gang is approaching with military grade weapons or other military supplies.
Easy places to get steel – Surprisingly, steel is used in many applications all around our cities and roadways. If you walk up and take it today, that’s theft. However, if there’s a catastrophic natural disaster and we lose the government and local infrastructure, now you’re simply scavenging for resources — that’s survival.
– You’ll find large pieces of heavy steel, sometimes slotted (sometimes round, sometimes rectangular) resting over sewers, storm drains, gas station sumps, car wash sumps, and the list goes on. Typically a “manhole cover hook” is all you’ll need to remove one of these from where it sits; the largest ones you may come across may call for two people and two manhole cover hooks.
– If you find anything bolted, you’ll want a high powered impact gun (cordless drill) with a set of large sockets. Also consider carrying a large pipe wrench or survival multi-tool during your steel collecting for those bolts bigger than any sockets you’re carrying.
– Some of these bolts may be extremely tight and have been set in place for years; a key survival tool for scavenging steel will be a “handle extender” for your wrench. A handle extender adds more length to the handle of your pipe wrench and it works by using the lever principle to magnify the force you are applying, and you now need less force to get the task done.
Collect steel from boneyards – A “boneyard” is slang for metal scrap that businesses (typically located in industrial areas) collect over the years and then store in a specific area on site (if you ask, they may let you take a few pieces of their boneyard free of charge). Sometimes this steel is from large parts taken from various machines; some may be from farming equipment; some may be from construction, trucking, and the list goes on. (Some of the best bullet blocking pieces of steel may be plow attachments from tractors, trucks, and bulldozers, weighing of course several hundred pounds, so you are going to need a machine of your own to collect these or even purchase beforehand in the modern day.)
– You can also find 55 gallon steel drums with open heads at most industrial sites, dump out any contents (don’t mess with drums that have hazardous waste labels), and then refill these drums with dirt, using these as bullet blockers around the outside of your home and any look out posts you have in mind.
5. Spike Strips
There’s a good chance that an armed gang could look a lot like armed militants in war zones common in Africa or the Middle East today. Often the vehicle of choice is a pick-up truck with a bed in the back packed with armed crooks or militants; sometimes an entire convoy of pick-ups could come rolling into a community. These gangs thrive on having vehicles to drive; if you can take out their vehicles, you can slow down a gang’s progress if it’s territory and supplies they’re after.
If shooting or slashing tires isn’t an option, then good ol’ fashioned spike strips concealed in the dirt or roadway can also help take a few trucks out of commission. Using spike strips, you won’t get every vehicle in a convoy but you may get several if you do this right. The trick is disguising them in several places within a short distance of each other.
Hiding spike strips: How do you hide spike strips on a road? That involves a lot of dirt and water spread into a thick mud, leaves and brush spread over the road also help. As a truck convoy makes it’s approach, first it sees brush and leaves, then streaks of mud and dirt … if nothing else out of the ordinary, the convoy is likely to continue on down the road in your direction; several yards down the road increase the amount of brush, leaves, and mud, and this is where a spike strip can be hidden. That spike strip can be something as simple as a sheet of plywood with several dozen long nails sticking up out of the bottom.
After the first two or three trucks have flat tires, the rest of the convoy may come to a stop. Several may attempt to now drive around the stopped vehicles, using the shoulders directly to the right and left. Here’s a great place to have additional spike strips hidden, dug into the soil a few inches down so that the tops of the nails can be covered with a thin layer of leaves and every spike strip is effectively camouflaged.
It’s a technique that comes with no guarantees but if things work in your favor, several of those trucks could end up with flat tires and not enough spares to go around.
6. Multiple 5 Gallon Containers Of Fuel
Never let your neighbors know that you have multiple containers of gasoline and diesel stockpiled; make a fuel trade on a case by case basis, giving your neighbors the impression that you only have a couple containers of extra fuel at any given time. The less your neighbors know about any fuel you have stored up, the less chances you have that information makes it’s way to a group of crooks that decide to take it by force.
– Gasoline has a short shelf life and must be treated with fuel stabilizers. There have been vast improvements in storage abilities for gasoline in recent years. A product used by many to store fuel is called STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer and can give your gasoline up to a 24 month shelf life (otherwise you’re looking at approximately 90 days).
– An alternative to treating your gasoline is to rotate your stocks every 90 days by filling your vehicles with it currently, and then refilling your containers at a local gas station (go one town over if you don’t want any local residents to notice you on these trips for refills.)
– If your vehicles run on diesel, you have an advantage vs gasoline because diesel stores longer without any additives needed. If you’re serious about fuel storage, there is more to know and I suggest you do your research so you know just what you’re getting into and how to do it safely and correctly.
– If you live in a region prone to natural disasters, consider storing your fuel containers in larger drums; that way if your fuel containers are knocked around, any spilled fuel is caught in that secondary container. You should have a secondary container for any and all stored chemicals, paints, etc.
– Keep all fuel stored away from sunlight and any spark or ignition sources, and especially keep well ventilated. That warning especially includes empty (but used) gas cans that have previously had gasoline in them. Gas vapors can build up in near empty containers and explode if those vapors encounter an ignition source. Large numbers of standard plastic fuel containers have been sold without “flame arrestors” making them more prone to explosion risk. Steel fuel containers with flame arrestors are a better choice for long term fuel storage (bright red cans can safely be spray painted with dull brown or green colors, a necessary step for a post-collapse world).
– In a world without city water and sewer, backyard latrines and military style trenches are likely to be common place when it comes to waste disposal; these areas can make excellent places to disguise fuel storage depots. In a worst case scenario, a hand winch and long chain can be used to raise and lower a steel drum filled with gasoline, kept hidden within a “lagoon” of sewer and gray water. It’s not pretty, but if it keeps thieves from prowling around at night and discovering your stocks of fuel then it has done the job.
7. Dog Food / Cat Food
Many of your neighbors probably have pets, and some of these people love their pets dearly. Since most of the neighborhood around you probably hasn’t prepped for a major disaster, and doesn’t have anything bigger than perhaps a 10 day stockpile, their pets are going to be short on food in just a few days. Here’s an opportunity for you to trade large bags of pet food, in exchange for either something your neighbor has, or even in exchange for labor.
What kind of labor could you trade for? How about property fortifications … you can put your hired hands to work putting up a security fence using the lumber you have stockpiled (as well as that barbed wire and razor wire) so that your property in the end looks more like a military fort from the days of America’s early pioneers rather than just another defenseless home with a welcome mat on the doorstep for violent criminals.
We’ve had a lot to say on generators in recent articles about survival electricity so nothing new to add today. A generator, specifically the “quieter” models for a few dollars more, will be key assets along with a battery bank (group of 12 volt deep cycle batteries wired together by #2 cables) for providing electricity following a loss of power.
A fuel powered generator creates the electricity and the battery bank stores the electricity for use at a later time, including periodic low-watt usage for extended use of power (that means you don’t actually run a generator on a regular basis; only at an optimal time for charging that battery bank).
By stockpiling a few generators, several 12 volt deep cycle batteries, and rolls of #2 battery cable, crimps, and crimping tools — this gives you something truly desired to barter with post-collapse. If you’ve learned how to wire a battery bank, that gives you a simple skill you can teach others how to do for themselves and others.
Advise your trading partners to use their generator(s) strategically – Any generator use will require a strategy for doing so in a way that no one within ear distance in your neighborhood can hear it running. Remember, if the wrong group of people hear you have a generator, they are going to hear dinner bells and likely to pay you a visit at some point in an attempt to take everything you have by force, and possibly even take your life. Quieter models and ways to dampen the noise or disguise the noise are essentials to using one of these post collapse.
A lack of local police and government is likely to bring out the worst in people who are currently kept in check by fear of judicial consequences. They will be after food, water, generators, propane tanks, guns, ammo, motorbikes, 4×4 trucks, and fuel … the worst of the worst will be after women and children.
While it’s good to be charitable and help your neighbors, it should be in a way that minimizes any chance that local thieves will find out who you are and that you have supplies to be had.
In a world without stores, MRES offer a way to feed people in bulk. They store well for several years at a time. Since needs for food will be high, MRES are an excellent commodity to stock up on while we still have time; they offer a way to trade for labor. For example, you can trade MRES in bulk in exchange for labor to help fortify your home or property, dig latrines and trenches with military shovel e-tools (for sewer and waste if we lose infrastructure), and possibly even to help fortify an entire neighborhood. You can also trade bulk MRES to bring people on as a security force, especially if you have people come to you with military skills or former law enforcement (one more reason to only work with people you believe are trustworthy; but that’s still not a guarantee that they can remain trustworthy if things get dire; use caution with everyone whom you deal with; if you believe in prayer, this is a great topic to be in prayer about; God can bring you good friends while also shielding you from the bad apples that are out there; faith has it’s rewards).
Regarding that security force you put to work, the fact is, many military men and women and law enforcement can make excellent security for a post collapse community. Hopefully you all share the same goals: Safety, protecting families, and keeping out crime.
There are definitely more palatable food choices out there than MRES but when supplies for food run thin and people are hungry those MRES are going to be well received by many. If you can afford freeze dried food in bulk, that is another way to go and should already be a part of most people’s preps, both as commodities and to also help feed your own family. However, those skilled with canning, bottling, and curing foods have a leg up on most readers, as do those who’ve been preparing by building up stockpiles of the best survival foods. That is a lot of time and effort though, so for the purpose of stockpiling commodities, the MRES and freeze dried food may be a better choice in the end.
The rifle has a long history of warfare. In the modern day, it’s been replaced by automatic weapons but the reality is that automatic weapons take a lot of training and they’re not for everyone. Not everyone is cut out for a machine gun, though they are good weapons and proven on the battlefield. If you can handle one effectively, whether an AK, AR-15, and others, then you deserve to carry one, and you have the confidence and experience to count on it in self defense. But a lot of people lack that ability. They are not ready to step up to a fully automatic rifle. It’s too much gun.
This is where a rifle comes into the picture. There’s nothing scary about a rifle. Older, responsible children can be taught to shoot rifles and can even become good shots at long distances. A .22 is a great rifle to start with (though it comes with a shorter range and a lot less power) and then move up from there to bigger rifles for more power at greater distances. Rifles use a lot less ammunition than fully automatic rifles, and this encourages shooters to place better aimed shots, rather than just spraying in the general direction of a target.
As an aside – we realize that some people aren’t fully comfortable with firearms – for those of you out there who match this description, make sure you have non-lethal self defense weapons available to you. You may not feel like you need them now, but if you’re on this site, that means you’re ready to start planning for darker days, and if the world goes haywire you’re going to want to have some kind of weapons around for self defense whether they are firearms or not.
The practice of target sharp shooting and learning how to use a scope can be a confidence builder for kids and is an excellent first step toward hunting (like it or not, hunting should be a page in every prepper’s playbook — one day, following any kind of collapse, your preps are going to run out). Jeff Cooper is both a rifle instructor and author and details the ins and outs of “riflecraft” in his book, The Art of the Rifle.
Rifles and famous pioneers from history
A study of recent history shows that pioneer families and others making a living in lawless lands in the American West in previous centuries faced a lot of similar threats as communities and home owners will following a collapse of the modern U.S. A well fortified home with several people good with a rifle can put down approaching raiders at a safe distance, just like back in the pioneer days of famous riflemen like Jedidiah Smith and Daniel Boone.
Just be sure these are raiders and not just some lost travelers or children looking for help one day. Part of being a responsible rifle owner is always being certain of what you’re shooting at; a good scope is like a good pair of binoculars, allowing you to keep your gun trained on a target until it gets close enough for you to see key details and identifying features.
You’ll need a night vision scope, mentioned previously, to defend against a late evening or early morning raid. Like it or not, under the cover of darkness and even into the early morning hours is when better trained criminals and raiders are likely to strike. If you don’t see them coming first, you could lose everything, including your lives.
Why a rifle? If all you have are handguns for self defense, you will be forced to come out of cover and get closer to your targets for your shots to have a greater chance of being effective, which brings more risk to you of being shot first and lives being lost.
On the other hand, with a rifle you can shoot while crouched in the shadows, staying several yards back — even a hundred yards or more (more powerful rifles up to 1,000 yards); even your children can help put up a defense if you’ve done a good job preparing them for the day they have to hold down the fort or property from local raiders.
Rifle ports and steel – Remember that steel mentioned above? With some good fortifications in place, local raiders can approach with fully automatic rifles, yet that steel can keep you protected while also allowing you to still keep visibility on approaching targets, especially if you have steel set up in such a way that you leave small eye openings where you can see out, but your targets can’t see you. If you have a port (small opening for your rifle) you can shoot from, there’s actually no need to leave that cover at all; with a rifle and that steel protection, you can take down raiders who are armed with fully automatic rifles from a safe distance before they can get close enough for those weapons they’re carrying to do any serious damage.
That’s the goal anyway if the day ever comes you have to protect your family by taking a stand from your property against approaching raiders.
You can shoot out tires from a distance and flatten their convoy. If those pick-up trucks are carrying exterior steel fuel tanks in back you can put a hole in their fuel tank and send them running.
You can shoot the cigar out of a raider’s hand who has possibly killed more people, including women and children, in the past few weeks then you’d ever want to know.
Taking Down A Killer With Just A Sling And A Stone
Remember that famous story from the Bible that is still retold in children’s stories and animated cartoons? A shepherd named David killed Goliath using just a stone slung from a sling.
Who knows? Just maybe God will give your bullet a gentle nudge so it misses that cigar and takes the raider’s head off instead.
Is it murder? Or is it justice? Well, was it murder when David killed Goliath?
Not in God’s eyes. The Phillistines were ruthless killers.
God was sending them a message.