I remember when I used to think preppers and survivalists were weird for stocking up and going to the extra effort to protect themselves. Boy was I wrong! If you're not familiar with my story, you can read it here. The truth is, being well-prepared for a crisis is something everyone should be doing. The United States is home to some 316 million people and, according to Google, only around 3 million of those people consider themselves “preppers”.
To be fair, this likely doesn’t include people who have never visited prepping websites, and those who live that kind of lifestyle naturally because it’s the only way to live they know. However, there are many more Americans waking up to the fact something isn’t quite right with the nation we were once so proud of.
We believe that it is important for everyone to think about prepping, particularly the areas where people commonly make mistakes. I’ve been guilty of doing one or two things on this list myself. Take a look through our list and see which mistakes, if any, you are making too.
1. Having a False Sense of Security
With the news being full of guns, gun regulations, and laws for disarming more people and preventing them from buying guns and ammunition, more and more people are stocking up on them. Funny how that works. Just because you’ve got a gun doesn’t mean you’re safe though.
Do you really know how to use it? Have you even tried using it? Are you prepared to shoot at someone else if necessary? It’s one thing to believe you could, but it’s another to actually stare down someone else and know that you are fully prepared to take their life if necessary. Having guns or other weapons to hand doesn’t make you safe. You still have to get the training and experience in using them.
This applies to much more than just guns and other security measures. You’ve got food. You’ve got lots of food. But do you really know how long your supplies will last? Have you considered this? What happens when you run out? What are you going to do then?
These are the things that you need to think about and prepare for. After all, being prepared is what prepping is about. Prepping is also about understanding your limitations. To put it simply, anything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong. Keep this in mind as you prep.
2. Not Preparing for the Right Situations
Reality TV and documentaries have shown us this is an unfortunate reality in prepping. The problem is that all too often they show unbelievably EXTREME situations that aren't traditional disasters we'd find ourselves in such as the north and south poles reversing, or a massive asteroid to hit the Pacific Ocean, or the Madrid Fault to open up.
Of course, these are all potential events that might happen, but there are many regional situations that happen each and every day that people should prepare for. If you live in a place that is prone to flooding for example, then you should be prepared for a flood if nothing else. This thinking also applies to areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
We live in a place where forest fires can pass pretty close to our home. So it would make a lot more sense for us to prepare for a wild fire than an EMP attack or something of the sort.
Make sure you understand your personal situation and the potential disasters for where you live and plan around those. You can prepare for the zombie apocalypse all you want, but lets face it, you would be better off preparing for the things that happen in your own neighborhood on an annual basis.
As well as preparing for situations that might happen to you and your area, you should also understand what to do when the time comes to leave. There’s a good reason survivalists stress the importance of having a bug out bag. This does mean leaving home, which you might not want to do, but you should understand the risks that come with staying and "bugging in". Your home might be looted if you leave (so make sure that any supplies you leave behind are kept well hidden and secure).
Staying means that you might be put in a fatal situation you can’t escape from. Such as roofs being torn off, walls crumbling down or furniture getting whipped around at high speeds which could injure or trap you under debris. You should never ever wait until the very last minute to evacuate if there is an evacuation order where you live. Don’t let your pride or a lack of trust in the authorities take the lives of you and those you love. Make sure you have a well-thought-out plan.
3. Not Looking at the Bigger Picture
Not seeing the bigger picture is something that I’ve done myself. As you prepare and plan for a crisis, it’s easy to lose sight of why you are doing everything. You want to be self-sustaining of course, and you want to be able to give your family what they need in a crisis. What then though? If the economy collapses but you and your family are safe inside your home, do you consider the other three hundred million people that could be outside your door?
Pretending that everyone else disappeared while you were preparing can spell disaster. You are going to inevitably run out of food or ammunition. You won’t have the means to fight off everyone. So you should consider educating others about what you have learned and help them to be self-reliant too. Remember the old adage that you can feed a man for a day, or teach him to fish and feed him for the rest of his life.
4. Not Having a Network or Community
I can only speak for myself on this one, but from how preppers have been portrayed by the media I don’t go around the neighborhood letting everyone know that I’m a survivalist. I like to keep that kind of thing to myself. It’s time I stopped thinking like that though, and it’s time you did too, even if it can be difficult. I always ay attention to other people. I watch what they do. I’ve “come out” as a prepper or survivalist to other people, and I was surprised to learn that they themselves were interested in emergency preparedness.
I can say that I felt a ton of relief when I realized that I wasn’t alone as a prepper. From the looks on their faces, I could tell that they were glad to not be alone in their situation too. I challenge you to go out there and be more open about what you are doing. You can be cautious about it, but you should at least test the waters. Find ways to bring up the topic naturally in conversation. You never know, perhaps your neighbor or co-worker is a prepper as well and you can team up to increase your chances of survival. After all communities of people helping each other are one of the best survival tools we could ever have.
5. Not Having the Right Skills to Sustain Yourself
You aren’t sustainable just because you’ve got enough food to last several months or a year or two. That food, as mentioned earlier, is going to run out. What do you do then? Have you got a plan ready to be able to sustain your way of life and keep your family fed? You have to know how to continue once your initial store of food and supplies runs out.
You should know how to grow and tend a garden, how to kill a chicken, how to find and survive with food in the wilderness, and how to defend yourself, your family, and your home. If you or a member of your family is injured, then you need to know how to treat it. Do you know how to treat open wounds so they heal properly and prevent getting a dangerous infection? Those are all things that you have to deal with because these situations can – and do – happen.
6. Not Having the Right Education
Having something doesn’t mean knowing how to use it. Take some time to learn everything there is to know about survival, economics, “reading” people, and everything else you can learn. If you find information that you can’t absorb right now, then print it out and keep it for later.
You’ll never know everything there is to know, and you’ll always be able to learn more. Knowledge is free and knowledge is power. Not to mention it doesn’t’ weigh anything because you keep it stored in your head.
7. Stocking up on the Wrong Things
Not only is it possible to stock up on the wrong things, but you’d be surprised at how often it happens. If you’ve never had the misfortune of eating spam before, then a crisis situation is hardly the right time to get acquainted with it. Store the things you eat, and eat the things you store. Get your family used to reducing food waste and eating what's fresh in season.
Cook up meals that use what you’ll be storing and eating in a crisis. If you are planning on growing or stockpiling pinto beans and using them as you primary source of carbs, then start cooking with them now. You might learn that you don’t like pinto beans. You want to find that out before it’s too late to do something about it. You need to figure out the things you do like, and there’s plenty of options to choose from. If you stock up three years’ worth of survival food, only to learn that your family can’t tolerate them, things are going to get rough in a hurry.
8. Storing Everything in a Single Place
You’ve worked too long and hard to lose everything in a single event. Do some research. If a disaster such as a fire or a flood hits, and everything is kept in one place, then that one disaster could be enough to eradicate all of your supplies and leave you with nothing. Where would you be then? Well, much like around 90% of the general population, you’ll be unprepared and unable to do anything about it.
Think about your area and the disasters you're more prone to. If you live in a flood zone, don't store much if any of your supplies down on the lower levels of your home. If you live in a one story home, try and keep them up on high shelves to keep things as safe and dry as possible. You can also invest in a fireproof safe to store your valuables and/or bug out bag.
9. Becoming Too Comfortable
This is another one that I’m guilty of doing. It’s something everyone does. How could we not in today’s society? We are surrounded by things that tell us to be comfortable or make us comfortable, and that’s all we want. Think about the money you have in the bank, and how you rely on the bank to take care of it for you. You are comfortable knowing that it’s there, but think about the problems that would arise if something happened and you couldn’t access it.
It’s not easy to do, but you need to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone ever day. It's good for development, builds character and helps keep you flexible in life. After all growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone.
It's good to get up and do your work, and come home each day, and work on keeping your garden going, and maintaining your rainwater collection system and/or feeding your livestock. Each day brings with it some new challenges, and each day you need to get up and let go of the comfort of just sitting on the couch. Get up, get out, and get it done. Don’t put off until tomorrow what can – and should – be done today.
10. Losing Focus
Saying that one loses focus is a polite way of saying that they get lazy. Don’t procrastinate and put things off. There’s no time for being lazy. Only you can judge whether you are being lazy or not. There’s no grade or ribbon to be attained here. If you do manage to stay focused though, and you put together a plan, your chances of succeeding drastically increase.
One way to avoid losing focus is to have everything written down. Get some spiral bound notebooks and make lists. List everything that you need to learn. List all of your supplies and your budget for them. List the luxuries that you want to make sure you have stored, and work out how you can do it. The only thing that is limiting you and stopping you is you yourself. Don’t let negativity prevent you from reaching your goals.
What Do You Think?
This is hardly an all-inclusive list of common mistakes preppers make. This is only the ones that I myself have seen and paid attention to, and the main areas that can create problems for the average survivalist. Which ones do you think you need to improve on right now? Share your comments below - we love to hear from you!