Despite the fact that we as a species have been surviving since the beginning of time and have encountered unfathomable disasters, there’s still no clear and concise method/approach/guide to prepping that takes into account all the possible scenarios. The world of prepping as we currently know it is still in it’s infancy and it has a long way to go before we create a perfect system for not only implementing into our own lives, but also teaching to others. Because there’s no clear guide to prepping, many of us preppers have to go through a life long learning process of trial and error to figure out the best methods for survival, along the way we’ll make mistakes and overlook many possibilities. In this article I want to go over 10 of the more common mistakes that we as preppers may have overlooked.
1. Inadequate Survival Library
Ya, sure, you have all the common survival books on how to survive in the wilderness, create traps, surviving an urban disaster, small unit tactics, and maybe even a good book on the self sufficient life style but that’s definitely not going to be enough. Post-collapse, you’ll need good reference books covering electronics, engineering, guns repair/maintenance, surgery, natural medicine, animal husbandry, farming, chemistry, books covering the basics of a variety of trade skills and much more. I recommend everyone get an ebook reader (with a collection of important books) with a solar charger (all kept inside a Faraday cage for protection against an EMP) and also have an actual hard copy of these books in the event that your ebook reader is damaged. Ideally you’d want specialist in your survival group for all the important subjects but even the specialist will need reference books for things they may have forgotten. In a long term survival scenario, you’ll need a community to survive and other communities to trade with because we as individuals just simply don’t have enough time to learn every aspect of survival adequately. I should also mention that your book collection should be stored in a safe way/place so that you can access it in the event of your home collapsing, a fire, or a flood.
2. Relying on Gear/Supplies and Not Skills
You’ll definitely want your high-tech gear, weapons, and supplies if you wanna get out on top after a disaster but you’ll also need the skills to not only use your “stuff” effectively but also be able to survive without your “stuff”. As a bare minimum I suggest everyone fork out an investment into professional combative training, firearms training, and first aid training (to the highest level that you can afford). You’ll also want to use your gear on a regular basis to not only ensure that they work but so that you can also have some familiarity with the gear so that you know how to best use them. I’ve had multiple clients that I’ve consulted in the past who’ve had gear still in their original packages and when asked to demonstrate how to use the gear, they had no idea! In a disaster situation, every second you waste trying to figure out how to assemble your gear could be disastrous. Also be sure to run likely scenarios so that you wont be a “deer caught in the headlights” when those situations actually do occur. When a disaster eventually happens, you wanna have the training and know-how to get you and your family out of dodge.
3. Inadequate Water Supply
An insufficient supply of water is one of the most common errors preppers make, and this usually occurs because they underestimate how much they will need for each person. The importance of a good supply of clean drinking water is crucial and cannot be emphasized enough. The body is able to survive much longer without food than it can without water. Most survival experts recommend a minimum of 2 gallons of water per day per person and enough water to last you 2 weeks based on those calculations to be stored in your home. Due to the weight of water, it’s not practical to transport adequate amounts in an extended (72 hour to 2 week) bug out situation, because of this, you’ll need the skills required to not only acquire, but also purify drinking water. You might also want to consider caching water supplies along your bug out routes if it’s within your budget. Be sure to only store water in containers made for that specific purpose.
4. Inadequate Food Supplies
Although gathering a good supply of food staples such as beans, flour, rice, sugar and salt is important, trying to survive on those foods alone is going to be miserable. A good variety of foods is essential to your survival, as your body is going to struggle to adjust to a diet that only consists of the barest basics such as listed above. After consuming only those foods for a length of time your body will suffer from what is called “food fatigue”, where even if you are hungry the foods you have will not be in the least bit appetizing, and you will have to force yourself to eat just to get something in your stomach. Gathering a variety of foods that are versatile and can have several different meals created from them will give you the best chance of surviving.
5. Not Rotating/Resupplying/Eating Food Storage
Store what you eat, and eat what you store. Unless you’re alright with just putting away a supply of food and letting it eventually go bad, you’ll want to use your food supply and replace what you take out. When it comes to your food supply, you’ll want to be extremely organized! Have an inventory sheet, and record what you take out and what you put in. Also be sure to FiFo (First in, First Out), basically this a method of safely rotating your food supply so that you’re always eating the oldest items first. If you are unsure of how best to cook with your basic supplies, there are plenty of cookbooks available that can advise you of interesting meals that can be prepared using them (check out: The Prepper’s Cookbook). Practicing some of these recipes before an event will be extremely helpful during your survival period.
6. Not Having a Vitamin Supplementation
Because your post-SHTF diet may be lacking in all of the essential nutrients, you should have a good supply of a quality multivitamin. Consider that you and your family may be under incredible stress, as well as being required to undertake manual labor, and all of this will take a toll on you both physically and mentally. A good multivitamin will help to keep your body healthy and strong. Like your store of food, it is essential that you use and replenish your stores of vitamins to ensure you have a fresh supply. Vitamin C and the B group vitamins will help your body to deal with stress and fatigue.
7. Overlooking Essential Supplies
While it’s important to ensure a good supply of food and water, it is equally important to not overlook other essentials that will help you and your family survive (and thrive). You’ll also need a good medical kit, cooking equipment, clothing, weapons, sleeping bags, prescribed medications (if required) and other vital items. Don’t forget simple everyday items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, and the like.
8. Too Much Emphasis on Guns and Ammo
Although having some form of weaponry is a distinct advantage for protection, hunting and trading, it’s important to not get too focused on guns and ammunition at the price of other more vital supplies, such as food and water. If you live in a rural area, guns and ammunition will be helpful for hunting wildlife, but city dwellers will find very little wildlife and any that is available will be quickly wiped out by other survivalists. Be aware that in the city your unwanted ammunition will have little to no trade value as other people will be wanting food and other necessities. Don’t forget to include a good quality, sharp utility knife for cleaning and preparing any wildlife you do kill, and for cutting up cooked meat. In regards to firearms, proper training and practice is essential.
In regards to self defense, we not only recommend firearms (with proper training) but also non lethal weapons like a baton or bear spray. The benefit of bear spray is that you’ll immobilize you attacker/attackers without killing them (thereby saving your conscience, especially in non life threatening situations). The other benefit of bear spray is you pretty much can’t miss and it requires very little training to use. Other weapons like knives (for the purpose of self defense) require a lot of training and practice in order to use them effectively, have a knife, but use your bear spray first.
9. Not Making Provisions for Pets
Your pets are part of your family and you’ll need to make provision for them too. We’re not saying you have to take them along, but you should incorporate them into your planning. New preppers often overlook the needs of their pets, and while some animals will survive in rural areas, city animals rely upon their owners for their food and care, and therefore will not survive if left to fend for themselves. But in the end, they are just animals, and you should be willing to eat them if you have to.
10. Having an Inflexible Survival Plan
The biggest mistake that I see among newbie preppers is that their survival plans are relient on certain things happening or not happening. Here’s an example from “John Doe’s” survival plan: “in the event of an earthquake, family will meet up at home and drive to the retreat”, this survival plan doesn’t take into consideration the possibility that “John” could be stuck under rubble with a with a broken leg or that the highways will be closed off. An adequate survival plan should start from the smallest possible emergencies (example: daughter broke ankle) to incrementally larger emergencies with the highest level being the Apocalypse (or any other TEOTWAWKI event). A proper survival plan (to be adequate) unfortunately needs to be very elaborate and it needs to take into account all the possibilities.