Quick question: how prepared are you really for what’s about to come? The reason I’m asking is because I’ve seen a A LOT of prepping mistakes over the years. And you know what my conclusion is?
That you don’t know what you don’t know.
In other words, what you don’t know, your prepping mistakes… your blind spots… cheap advice off the Internet… these are the things that could cause you to not make it when disaster comes.
I’ve put together the ultimate list with dozens upon dozens of mistakes preppers have made. Now I’m not expecting people to stop making mistakes – after all, that’s how we learn – but it’s nice to be able to avoid some of them and to shorten the learning curve.
#1. Neglecting Their Skills
Focusing all your efforts on stockpiling food is so easy. All you have to do is spend some money.
But when S really HTF, the skills you know are going to be the ones that matter. There will be a constant risk of all your food disappearing, as well as your guns, ammo, and everything else.
Since we’re preparing for the worst-case scenario, it’s quite possible that society will never go back to normal even after a year, 5 years, or even 10. So you need to know how to procure drinkable water, how to grow or hunt food, and possibly even barter your skills to get what you need.
#2. Not Having Backup Plans B, C and D
Two is one, one is none, right? The big problem with disasters and emergencies is that you don’t know exactly how they’ll unfold. It’s hard enough to predict election results, let alone how an entire society will reshape following a mass catastrophe.
Let’s make a habit of always asking ourselves the crucial question of “That might not work, then what?”
The secondary route out of the town or city might be blocked. Then what?
Our bug-out location will be compromised Then what?
All our canned food might be compromised. Then what?
The great news is there are numerous back-ups you can put in place for just about anything:
- starting a fire
- finding, filtering and purifying water
- lighting your house
- and backup planning in general.
#3. Stockpiling Food They’re Allergic to
… which could pretty much kill them when they have nothing else to eat. Fortunately, the solution is simple: rotate your stockpile, eat those foods when they’re about to expire, and be 100% sure everyone in your house is not allergic to the survival food you decide to store.
#4. Not Rotating Their Stockpile
Every food has a shelf life. When you don’t rotate it, you can not only end up with spoiled food in your pantry but you’ll also end up taking more money out of your pocket to replace the spoiled food.
I recommend you rotate it every 6 months during daylight savings time, it’s easier to remember.
#6. Being Cheap
Yes, the whole point is to prepare using as little money as possible but, in most cases, you get what you pay for. For example, getting a cheaper “survival knife” that doesn’t have a fixed blade could have fatal consequences if that blade breaks when you need it most.
Same thing with holsters. A really cheap one might fail you when you need it most because it’s just not built to hold up when you’re on the run.
Keep in mind that, more often than not, the best way to save money is to buy something more expensive that will last you longer.
#7. Not Keeping Their Mouths Shut
Too many preppers eventually tell someone outside their household about their prepping plans, only to get laughed at, or, even worse, to hear something along the lines of:
Well, if you’re already preparing, I won’t. If something happens, I’ll just come to your house!
Loose lips sink ships.
#8. Not Doing Drills
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Practice surviving an earthquake. Or a tornado. Or a home invasion.
Practice bugging out using every escape route you know of. Practice staying a weekend at your bug out location, eating nothing but survival food.
#9. Not Having Alternative Weapons
Some preppers feel so secure because they have firearms, that they fail to stockpile alternatives in case the Government seizes their guns. Here‘s a full list of non-lethal weapons to choose from. Keep in mind your age, sex, strength, and constitution before making your choice(s).
One last thing: learn to USE them. Very important.
#10. Not Keeping Their Bug Out Bag Items Waterproof
I don’t know the odds of the items in your bug out bag getting underwater but why risk it? It’s not just a flood that can drench your bag. Think about having to cross a river, getting caught in a flash flood, or even something as “harmless” as a heavy rain.
Besides keeping copies of your papers in plastic bags, I advise you to waterproof everything, spare batteries, cash, toilet paper, matches and lighters, that extra set of car keys, and so on.
In fact, you should consider doing this to the items that aren’t really affected by water. If your spare change of clothes is soaking wet and you need it… tough luck. Consider packing your clothing into those vacuum storage bags. Your clothes will be safe and dry and will take up a lot less space in your bug out bag.
#11. Not Reaching Out to Like-Minded People
The “lone wolf” mentality might work for some people but all the war books I read and movies I watched taught me that not having allies is suicide. You don’t have to tell them your prepping plans or meet with them every week to brainstorm prepping ideas.
It’s just… good to know you have someone you can potentially reach out to when things start to crumble.
#12. Storing Too Much of One Food
The only time it’s ok to do this if you already have a variety of foods in your pantry and you’re now preparing for a 3 or a 5-year stockpile. That’s when storing all the beans you can get your hands on is a good idea. But you do need variety because you can’t eat the same food 3 times a day for months on end.
#13. Only Focusing on SHTF
There are dozens upon dozens of emergencies that are happening all over the country every day. Things like car crashes, falling off the stairs could kill you… so why not prep for those before you think about EMPs and war?
In addition, consider SHTF could be a slowly declining even.
#14. Neglecting Vitamins and Minerals
Everyone’s focused on high calorie foods because they’re densely packed with macronutrients but few realize MICRO-nutrients are just as important.
Magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, iron – these are just of the few of the things your body will need plenty of in a survival situation. Consider a multivitamin & mineral complex for your stockpile.
#15. Keeping All Their Eggs in One Basket
This metaphor has two interpretations as far as I’m concerned.
A. You should never keep all your stockpile in the exact same place. (Most preppers know this).
and B. You should never keep only one food in one container.
Here’s what I mean…
If you have only 2 minutes to leave your house and you can only carry one bucket of food with your bug out bag, how awful would it be if that bucket had only beans in it?
But that’s what most preppers do, right? They have only one food item per container.
If you’re smart, you can store a little bit of each food in each of your containers so when if you can only grab one and go, you’ll still end up taking a variety of food with you. Makes sense now?
#16. Not Working on Their Inner Game
There’s no telling how people will react in face of danger. Even if they’re preparing.
Mindset exercises are at the core of any SEAL training and there’s a good reason for that. It’s the mind and your attitude towards the disaster that dictates whether you’re gonna make it or perish, despite your huge food stockpile. Work on that.
#17. Not Storing Enough Water
Not storing enough water is a huge mistake. Most people don’t realize just how much water is needed daily for one person, let alone an entire family. Let’s also add here the common mistake of not having a means of filtering water when the stockpile is gone. We need water more than we need food.
#18. Spending Too Much on Ammo
I’m not saying that more isn’t better, but until Doomsday arrives, money’s still important. Plan expenditures carefully if you want to get the most bang for your buck. More ammo won’t necessarily increase your chances of survival. But more water might, for example.
#19. Preparing for One Specific Event
Some people only prepare for the biggest disaster they think will happen, completely neglecting the rest. You’ve probably seen it enough times on Doomsday Preppers, right?
Martial law, Yellowstone’s eruption, an EMP attack, and nuclear attacks are a few examples of disasters that will affect you no matter where you live in the U.S.
#20. Throwing Away “Useless” Stuff That Could Have Bartering Value
Just because you won’t use it doesn’t mean no one else will. Never underestimate the power of bartering.
In fact, I bet that if you were to clean out your attic or garage, you’ll find plenty of items that could turn out to be very useful post-collapse, either to you or to someone else.
#21 Not Keeping Paper Copies of Survival Information
Whether an EMP hits or it’s just a permanent power outage, your PC and Kindle won’t work for long. Keep your favorite survival courses in paper format for reference later.
#22. Not Moving Out of Big Cities
Cities are death traps. In fact, this is so important, I should have put this mistake higher up in the list, now that I think about it…
#23. Not Having a Cash Reserve on Hand
The banking system proved it can collapse even without the aid of a war or a national disaster. When SHTF, the last thing you’ll be able to do is make a withdrawal from your bank account. Keep cash handy because you never know.
You might use it to get food and water from vending machines, you might use it to pay someone off (such as angry rioters to leave you alone) – you just never know.
#24. Not Knowing Their Neighbors
I don’t care whether they’re preppers or not, you should at least meet them and have an idea what kind of people they are.
No matter how prepared you are, it’s impossible to predict how things will go down. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s uncertainty itself. Always assume there are a lot of things you don’t know. This will help you to see the holes in your prepping plans.
#26. Storing Grain But No Mill
They’ll be pretty useless if you can’t eat them, right? Stock a mill or at least know about an alternative method for grinding grains.
#27. Not Preparing For Cold Temperatures
A lot of people seem to ignore the very likely scenario that they’ll have to bug out during winter. I can’t figure out why… Same advice for really hot weather, by the way.
#28. Overestimating How Long Food and Water Stockpiles Will Last
One of the biggest prepping mistakes is that most people forget they need water for washing up, washing clothes, brushing teeth, cooking, cleaning wounds, etc. The 1 gallon of water per person per day is just an estimate for drinking water.
Same thing with food. If you think you have a one year stockpile, it’s probably going to last you 8 months at best. Think of all the extra calories you’ll need in order to keep yourself healthy in stressful situations. Hunting, fishing, farming – those will all burn more calories that what you might be doing all day now (watching T.V. and playing on your iPad).
Also, keep in mind you might need to sacrifice some of your food, possibly even trading it for your life.
#29. Thinking They’re Going to be Home When SHTF
When SHTF, there will be a lot of people away from their homes. This means they won’t have immediate access to their BOB’s. In fact, if they aren’t well prepared, they might not even have access to their get home bags. Then what?
#30. Thinking the Disaster Will Strike During Summer
We’ve all seen those end of the world simulations and, for some reason, they all occur on hot summer days. What if it happens during the winter? To be prepared to bug out even when it’s cold or even freezing outside, you need to consider:
- emergency blankets,
- hand warmers,
- cooking pots and coffee or tea
- and cough medicine among other things.
#31. Showing Their Gun in Public
As you start getting used to your gun, you forget to take that extra second to make sure it’s fully concealed. This is one of those prepping mistakes that can have serious consequences.
#32. Showing Pride in Being a Prepper
Wearing camo clothing or having stickers on your car that show everyone that you’re a “professional prepper” is actually the biggest indication of an amateur prepper. The LAST thing you want is for people to know what you’re up to.
#33. Adjusting Their Gun in Public
Don’t worry, it’s still there. Don’t draw attention to yourself by checking it every 5 minutes. Only do it when you’re sure no one sees you and don’t obsess too much about it.
#34. Not Making Shelter a Top Priority
You know the rule of threes, right? Having a shelter is more important than food and water short term.
#35. Obsessing About Prepping
I’m not trying to discourage from doing what you have to in order to keep yourself and your family safe. But please keep in mind you only live once and making huge compromises for a little bit of extra safety is not for most people.
It’s ultimately up to you but taking a break every once in a while to stop thinking about it can actually get you more excited and anxious to get back in business down the road. Try it.
#36. Having Too Much Stuff in Their Everyday Carry Kits (EDC)
What’s the point of having an EDC if you don’t actually carry it with you every day? If it’s too big or too heavy, consider removing some of the stuff. I made a full list of stuff to get right here but don’t feel the need to get everything on this list.
#37. Having an Extreme Attitude
There are two extreme categories of preppers. The first group are those who, when SHTF, will keep everyone away, shoot any trespassers on sight and so on. The second group have a very trusting nature and will try and help those in need of food and water, only to give themselves and their stockpile away.
You don’t want to be in either of these groups. It’s much better off if you’re using your head to know when to trust people and when to stay away from them.
#38. Using Bleach Past Its Expiration Date
Few people know that bleach only has a shelf life of around 6 months. You need to rotate it twice a year if you are using it for water purification. Making this prepping mistake can compromise your water stockpile.
You can still use your soon-to-be-expired bleach for other things besides purifying water, so it’s not a total waste of money:
- doing laundry (obviously)
- cleaning your bathroom and kitchen
- chlorinating your well
#39. Putting to Much Gear in Their Survival Backpacks
The more gear you have, the better you’ll be able to survive certain situations… but the problem with too much gear is that it’ll weigh you down.
And I’m not just talking about carrying a backpack on your back; a fully-loaded car will move slower, and will have a reduced range.
#40. Not Familiarizing Themselves with The Gear
Some of the things that take practice in learning how to use include:
- your first aid kit items
- using a gun
- cleaning a gun
- using alternative weapons
- shutting off utilities in an emergency
- and a whole lot more.
You should definitely do this periodically, by the way.
#41. Not Getting Their Families on Board
Unless they’re stubborn, you should really try. Otherwise they’ll be completely unprepared, and you’ll have no choice but to risk your own life to help them in a disaster.
If there’s no talking to them, at the very least set aside some stockpiles and even a few bug out bags for them. That way they’ll at least have a few basic food and gear for when disaster strikes.
#42. Being Tacticool – A Modern Warrior
We debated this here. You shouldn’t be trying to look cool, you should be trying to survive. The less you show people you’re a prepper, the less they will ridicule you, and the less chances they’ll come to you for help when the big one catches them by surprise.
#43. Not Planning to Bug Out
It doesn’t matter how well you’ve prepared to bug in, bugging out could be a necessity. There’s no place on this Earth immune to all the disasters and emergencies!
Food and Water Prepping Mistakes
For a full list of food and water mistakes, please check out this article.
OK, those are it for now, but the article is far from being complete. I’d appreciate it if you would add your own prepping mistakes to the list (use the comment box at the end). Your input will make this list that much more valuable.