5 Common Mistakes I see Preppers make
If you are new to prepping, or have been at it for a short time, congrats! The fact that you have the mindset to be prepared ahead of time puts you at an advantage if/when the SHTF! But I want to caution you against certain mistakes I see new and/or inexperienced preppers make. If you find yourself doing any of these, stop and reassess your preps and your priorities.
Stockpiling guns and ammo and believing you are all set
I would never downplay the important of protecting you and your loved ones in a disaster. I have many guns and plenty of ammo. But I caution people to not focus solely on that. Many people confuse their love and collection of firearms with being prepared. It is NOT the same! There are other things that are more important in my opinion.
To those who think that skill and ability with (and possession of) firearms top all other skills in an emergency (even more important than the ability to find and purify water or more important than finding/making shelter from the elements for example), then let me say this:
I have been in numerous disaster situations. I lost an apartment to a tornado a few years back. The next year I worked in Moore, Oklahoma where a tornado killed 24 people and did over $2 billion dollars’ worth of damage. I experienced an ice storm several years ago where I lost power for two days and was snowed in. My brother lost his job last year, and lived on his food storage for about 8 weeks until he found a new job.
Never once did firearms come into play. Food did. Water did. Shelter did. My family and group helping me out did. But not firearms.
Prepping isn’t just about collecting guns for long term, grid down survival. It’s about keeping you and your loved ones prepared for ALL disaster situations. Click here to read a great article on why you should NOT prep for just TEOTWAWKI.
Even if we lose the grid for an extended period of time, you will need food, water, and shelter WAY more often than you will need a gun! So balance your prepping! Spend some of that firearm money on other gear and preps!
Buying premade survival bags, gear and/or not testing them out beforehand.
First, let me say that buying a ready-made survival kit/bug out bag is better than having nothing at all. Many ready-made kits have a lot of handy and useful items that could save your life.
But in my experience, I see many people buy a pre-made bag, toss it in the closet, and not think about it again. Hence the items in the bag do NOT get tested or used before they are truly needed. Some folks may not even know what all is in their bag or how to really use it. Or they may know what’s in the bag, but not where certain gear is located.
In the middle of a disaster is NOT the time to try and figure out how to use your emergency radio. Or find out that the batteries for your flashlight don’t work. Or that your bag only has one poncho and you need 4.
Will you waste valuable time digging through your bag looking for flashlight? Sure hope it isn’t completely dark when you need that flashlight and can’t find it!
By building your own bag and acquiring the gear separately, you will know exactly what and where your gear is. You will be more inclined to test it and become familiar with it ahead of time. And you will most likely save yourself a little money.
If you do buy a pre-made bag, do the following:
- Determine what all is in the bag and where it is located
- Test out the gear. Make sure it works and you know how to use it
- Check it from time to time and make sure the gear is still working properly and ready to go
Awaiting TEOTWAWKI so you can shoot the “bad guys”/think you will get what you need with your guns
One of my favorite sayings is “Avoiding conflict should be a primary goal. Your firearms are the back-up plan!” I have a lot of training in firearms and tactics, and am confident in my ability. I own multiple guns, and am currently attaining my FFL to sell firearms. But I have also had the unfortunate experience (on numerous occasions) of attending funerals of police officers killed in the line of duty. I have listed three, but I have been to more.
Each time is a sobering experience and it reminds me that a badge and a gun are NOT Superman’s cape. Sometimes, the good guy gets shot. Sometimes, the good guy dies. In a long term, grid down scenario, sometimes the bad guys WILL win.
I see a lot of “Keyboard Warriors” with dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition just waiting for their time to engage in an all-out battle for survival. They talk to “picking off enemies at 500-600 yards” in urban areas or never running out of ammo in huge gun battles. They think the ability to shoot accurately trumps everything.
In my opinion, many of these people would not last nearly as long as they think they would if we ever have TEOTWAWKI. (The End of The World as We Know it). This might upset a few people, but that is ok. They need to understand that having a gun does not make them bullet proof. I hate to break it to them, but Rambo is Hollywood FICTION!
An eagerness to engage in gun battles during SHTF means that you will have lead flying in YOUR direction more often. That increases the odds that at some point, some of that lead will find you! Or it will find a family member. Or it will damage much needed supplies or gear.
Bullets do NOT discriminate!!
If you or a loved one takes a bullet wound, are you medically trained to remove the round and treat the wound? I’m not. And medical trauma teams will be in VERY short supply in a post apocalypse world! So the mortality rate of bullet wounds would sky rocket. In some cases, that will be a slow and painful death!
Bullets don’t need to hit you to potentially kill you. For example, we have huge, 1200 gallon barrels on our homestead that we use to collect rain water. A few rounds in those barrels and we could lose much of our water supply for our livestock. Sure, hopefully we could patch the barrels, but not before much of the water had leaked out. And if the barrels are too damaged for repair? We couldn’t replace those after the end of the world!
Bullets do NOT discriminate!!
Bullets don’t simply stop when they hit or miss their target. They keep going, and could end up traveling into someone else’s house and hitting them for example. Now you have accidently hit a neighbor across the street. That will cause you some problems. Bullets also have a tendency to be very loud and let everyone in the area know where you are.
Bullets SUCK at OpSec!
The ability to protect you and your loved ones is VERY important in ANY setting. But an over eagerness to engage in conflict runs the risks of unintended collateral damage, injury and/or death to you and loved ones. It also leads to the potential destruction of vital gear and equipment.
Your primary goal is to avoid conflict. Guns are the back-up plan!
And if your plans involve taking others’ supplies by force, you are NOT a prepper. You are a thief. Be forewarned…a large majority of preppers also have firearms, and will not be afraid to use them! If there is ever a time of WROL, attempted robberies will not be dealt with by the police but most likely by the business end of a gun!
Simply going down generic prepper checklists
Let me clarify this a bit. I’m not saying you can’t use those “checklists”. Actually they can be a good “springboard” into your preps; a good source of information to get you started. Just don’t be locked into them or rely solely on them. You should modify the lists as you see fit. Some items you may not need….or there maybe items you need that are not on the list.
The first reason I say not to rely solely on generic checklists is that people need to try and think for themselves. Part of being a “prepper” is to become more self-reliant and less dependent on others for your safety and security. How is going down someone else’s generic checklist self-reliant?
My goal here is to give you ideas on how to be more prepared to meet life’s challenges. Then you take those ideas and apply them as you see fit based upon your circumstances. By formulating your own plans for your preparedness based upon your conditions and environment, you should hopefully be able to generate your own list.
I have been asked a few times why I tend to write some articles in general terms and broad ideas. Well, there are some reasons for this. Everyone’s situation is different and I do not want to give advice that might hinder you based upon your conditions.
This is the second reason I encourage you not to rely just on the checklists, i.e. everyone’s situation will be different.
For example, if you came to me and asked me what you should pack for vacation, I could tell you that you need comfortable shorts, shoes, and swim wear. I would take water “socks” as opposed to flip flops because they don’t slide off your feet as easy. Bull frog makes a sun screen/bug repellent combo that works very well. I’d also suggest a hat to keep the sun from burning your face. And a large, durable beach towel is a must.
That is solid advice, but how useful is it if your vacation is a spring break trip to Aspen, Colorado? It won’t help you much on the ski slopes.
While that example is somewhat simplistic, it is still true. The bug out bag for a young family of four in the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana will be somewhat different than the bag of an elderly couple in south Florida. I can offer you some general ideas for each. But the more specific I get, the less valuable some of my information will be to others. This is true for generic lists.
In my humble opinion if you use these check-lists, they should be a starting point, NOT the end result.
Not keeping up to date inventory/list of supplies
There is more to being prepared than just buying extra supplies. You need to keep track of your gear and supplies.
I will be completely honest and say that at times I let this get away from me. And I shouldn’t. Keeping an up to date inventory list of your supplies and where they are located will help you:
- Make it easier to rotate your supplies. First in, first out is much easier when you know how much of an item you have, where it is located, and when it was purchased
- Let you know at a glance what items you need and what items you already have. Avoiding an accidental duplicate purchase saves you money and space; having a list of items you still need makes it easy to remember when you go shopping
- Helps you keep track of where your items are located. For me, some gear is at my house, some is at my homestead. Knowing where it is makes easy for me to decide what I can leave behind should I have to bug out
If you are like me, I have gear and supplies stored in multiple containers. These containers are clearly marked and labeled so I can easily know which container holds which items. It also makes it convenient if a family or group member needs an item. Who doesn’t hate digging through 5 boxes trying to find something? Now imagine doing it when seconds count…
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