With the abundance of bad info out there, it’s easy for new preppers to make a lot of mistakes. I’ve made many mistakes myself and I’m sure I’ll make more, but that’s part of the learning process. To help you speed up this process, here are some common prepping mistakes you’ll want to avoid:
1. Not having a survival library. Books are less common these days because we do so much reading on the Internet and Kindles. But if the power goes out, having a good collection of survival books could save your life. They’ll give you something to read when you’re bored, and will have important instructions on things like purifying water, building fires, and medical care. While you want to learn as much of this info as you can ahead of time, no one can know everything, and there are bound to be times when a survival library will come in handy. Check out the Books section and also read the article, Best Books on Survival.
2. Focusing on supplies instead of skills. Of course, just because you have all the best books on survival doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to learn survival skills. It’s possible your books will be destroyed or you won’t be able to get to them. The same rule applies to your survival food and gear. What if you’re at work when your home is destroyed by an explosion, earthquake or some other disastrous event? Would you still have the skills to survive, or are you completely dependent on your food and gear?
3. Not having enough water preps. I cannot overemphasize the importance of water. There are many survivalists who have six months of food and only two weeks of water on hand. Considering that you can survive without food about ten times as long as you can survive without water, you’d be better off with two weeks of food and six months of water. Don’t do that either, but at least make sure your water will last as long as your food. If you don’t have enough room for that much, there are many ways to collect and purify water.
4. Not having enough variety in food supplies. Too many new preppers buy nothing but rice, beans, flour, salt and sugar. If that’s all you have to eat after a disaster, you’re going to be miserable. Your body will have trouble adjusting to the new bare-bones diet and you’ll suffer from food fatigue, where your survival food won’t be appetizing even when you’re very hungry. Make sure you buy the ingredients for a variety of possible meals so you’ll feel satisfied every time you eat. This leads to my next point…
5. Not eating what you store. This was the first mistake I made when I started stocking up on food. I bought all kinds of food, sealed it up, put it in the closet, and forgot about it. Inevitably, some of my food went bad and I had to throw it out. It’s important you store what you eat and eat what you store and rotate your food. If you’re not sure how to cook meals from the basic ingredients, I’d recommend getting some cookbooks and a guide like Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook which has a lot of great recipes.
6. Not having enough vitamins. Personally, I think everyone should be taking multivitamins since most modern diets don’t provide the nutrition we need, but this will be even more important in a survival situation. The stress of having your life turned upside down, constant threats to you and your family, and manual labor will take a lot of energy and tax your immune system. Vitamins will help keep you strong and healthy, especially Vitamin C.
7. Relying only on food storage. While the last few points have been about food, don’t forget all your other survival needs. When a lot of people think of prepping, the first things they think about are food and water and they proceed to stock up on them while neglecting health and beauty supplies, first aid kits, bug out bags, cooking implements, clothes, weapons and other important items. While food should be your first priority, don’t forget your other priorities.
8. Relying only on an arsenal. At the other end the spectrum, there are some preppers who focus all their attention on guns and ammo. The reasoning is that not only will they be able to protect themselves, they’ll be able to hunt their food and trade ammo for other supplies. This is unrealistic, especially if you’re in or near a city. The little bit of wildlife in your area will be picked clean by others, and most people won’t be interested in your ammo as they, like you, will be looking to trade for food and other vital supplies. Sure, have some weapons for self defense, but don’t go overboard.
9. Not taking care of pets. As much as we all love our pets, for some reason it’s easy to forget that they need preps, too. Animals require more than just food and water. Check the article, Pet Survival Kit.
10. Planning on bugging out. Although having a bug out bag and a vehicle survival kit is important, unless you have advance warning of a disaster it will be very difficult to get from your home to your bug out location. The streets will be congested, roads and entire areas could be inaccessible, and gas could become unavailable. That’s why I think it’s so important to be ready to shelter in place.
What to read next: 15 Food Storage Mistakes.