More and more Americans are taking seriously their need to prepare against natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or other emergency situations. But many of those people don’t undertake their preparations with any sort of organization or firm planning. Here are ten of the most common mistakes that preppers make, mistakes that you should do your best to avoid.
1. Too Much Focus on One Area
You may love shooting and collecting guns, but you won’t be able to pack 50 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammo with you if you have to bug out. Even if you hunker down, you’re not going to be outfitting an infantry platoon, just you and your family.
Similarly, you may have a whole bunch of food stored, but if you don’t have any guns then all you’re doing is storing food for ne’er-do-wells who will kill you and take your food for themselves. Or maybe you’ve got plenty of food, water, and guns, but you only have a tiny little first aid kit. Whatever your preparations are, make sure that you’ve got all your bases covered: food, water, weapons, clothing, communications, hygiene, and medical supplies.
2. Too Much Focus on Supplies Instead of Skills
So you have your guns all set up to defend yourself in an SHTF situation. But how frequently do you shoot them? Are they fully broken in? Have you practiced malfunction drills? Maybe you have a generator ready to tide you over during the first few days of a disaster. Have you operated it to make sure that you can run your refrigerator/computer/stove/etc. off of it?
If you’re stockpiling seeds to grow your own food, have you done any gardening to make sure that your soil is fertile enough to grow vegetables? Have you identified what rodent or insect pests you have in your area that you need to protect yourself against? Do you have a green thumb, or do you kill everything you try to grow? The way you practice is the way you play, so if you don’t actually practice the skills you’re going to need, it’s not likely that you’re going to suddenly become an expert at them when it’s crunch time.
3. Not Having Enough Water
Water storage is bulky. And you may think that you’ll have plenty of warning before disaster strikes so that you can fill up bottles, jugs, barrels, etc. But maybe you’ll be off at work and by the time you’ve managed to get home the tap water is no longer running, or the electricity to run your well has shut off and you don’t have a manual backup. You need to store at least several weeks worth of water, at least one gallon per day per person, and still have the capability to source and purify water after your stash runs out.
4. Not Storing a Variety of Food
You may get a great deal on buying flour and rice in bulk, but if you don’t supplement them with other foods and spices you’ll have an awfully bland diet. Pack away a good supply of freeze-dried food, and supplement with canned food if you plan on staying put for a while. You don’t want to be dreadfully hungry and forcing yourself to choke down the same exact thing you’ve just eaten for 20 straight meals.
5. Not Rotating Through Food and Water
Don’t leave your survival stores lounging around in a back room gathering dust. Store what you eat and eat what you store. The last thing you want to do is open up a barrel of rice five years down the road and find that mice chewed into it a long time ago and left you with a bunch of droppings, or find out that your spices were harboring insect seeds and you’re left with jars full of dead moths and larvae. Water can go stale too, and plastic bottles will eventually crack and leak over time. Make sure to rotate through both your food and water to minimize the possibility of any unwelcome surprises.
6. Not Getting Your Family on Board
Yes, you’re probably excited to prep for disaster, but what about your spouse? How about your children? Are they going to take seriously the effort needed, both mental and physical, to prepare for disaster, or are they going to downplay the risks and be dead weight when disaster finally strikes? You’ll have to find ways to get them involved, be it outings to the range, family hikes and camping trips, building a bonfire, etc., to teach them the skills they need to cope and survive when times get bad.
7. Not Doing Research Before You Buy Gear
You may read a review about the latest, greatest tent, or a water bottle that collapses so small that you can fit it in your pants pocket. You’re all set to buy it, but did you search for other reviews? Did you check out what other purchasers said about it on Amazon? Did you look for alternatives that might be better, cheaper, or more reliable?
Buy once, cry once. It’s better to spend some time researching your options rather than buying a lemon that you’ll just have to replace.
8. Not Testing Your Equipment
Your bug out bag is all packed and ready to go, so the last thing you want to find out when you’re ready to bug out is that the seams were poorly stitched and the straps are falling off. Or maybe you’re ready to bed down for the night in the middle of the woods and you find that your waterproof tent resembles the Mississippi river. Use the gear you buy and test it out to make sure that it’s durable and reliable.
9. Loose Lips Sink Ships
Blabbing to everyone under the sun that you’re a prepper is a good way to find yourself a target of thieves and robbers. No one but you should know how many guns, how much food, and how many supplies you’ve stashed away.
In a best case scenario you’ll have your entire neighborhood coming to you begging for handouts when disaster strikes because they didn’t prep for themselves. They’ll be angry when they’re turned away, which won’t be pleasant. Keep your preparations to yourself, and make sure no one in your family spills the beans either.
10. Not Having Backup Plans
If you have a Plan A, you should also have a Plan B. And because no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy, have a Plan C too, and maybe a Plan D just for good measure. Have a plan for every possible type of natural disaster you might face, and every eventuality you may encounter.
Plan how to get home from work or school, how to get from home to a bug out location, and what scenario would cause you to bunker down and “bug in” for an extended period of time. All the prepping in the world will be for naught if you don’t have a plan to figure out how to put your skills and tools to use.