Rookie Preppers: 8 Mistakes To Avoid

This article has been generously contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready NutritionAfter joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999 Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center  specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management & response. 

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As some of you know, I’ve been prepping for a several years now.  Believe me when I say that I have probably made every prepping mistake in the book.  It’s time I admit to these mistakes and begin using them as learning experiences for those of you who are beginning their preparedness efforts.

8 Rookie Mistakes

Don’t Panic

Take a deep breath, sit down and make an emergency plan.  Decide what emergency you are preparing for and what supplies you will need.  Try and stay within a certain emergency time frame and work your way up to larger scale emergencies.  For example, begin planning for a 72 hour emergency and work your way up to a short term emergency and later, a larger scale or  long term emergency.

Take your time and properly plan how you are going to open up your budget so that you can attain these emergency items.  Cutting out the extraneous spending in your budget can free up a lot of extra cash.  The money saved can be used toward your future preparedness items.  Make the choice of using the new found preparedness money or save it for a more expensive prep.  Either way, you will accumulate a little at a time and not break the budget.

Personal Experience – One mistake I remember (and am still paying for) was when my husband and I decided to get a short term food supply.  We hadn’t really researched what it takes to maintain our family’s health during a short term emergency so we impulsively went out and bought $ 200 in canned goods.  Needless to say that we are still living off of that canned good investment.  Looking back, we could have used that $ 200 in a more constructive  manner.

Don’t always believe the experts.

Listen to what the experts say, but make the decision that is best for your family and your needs.  Some expert advice is driven by what makes them the most money or what other experts are saying at the time.  Make a list of what items you are looking for and research those items (include reading the customer reviews).

Personal Experience – An expert was telling everyone that they should have a certain brand of hiking boots.  Well, I went out and bought them because “the expert” said I should.  Because I didn’t research the boots (and the specs about the boot), after purchasing it; I made the realization that they were way too heavy for me.  Luckily, I was able to return the boots and get my money back.  After I researched and read customer reviews, I went out and invested in a different pair of hiking boots that were perfect for what I needed.

Don’t buy cheap preps.

Trying to save money here and there is great, but when you are investing in survival gear, you want to make sure the investment is worth the money spent.  Begin looking at your purchase as an investment for your future.  You want that product to last and perform its desired function with minimal hassle.  And you want to be able to depend on that product to see you through an emergency.   On another note, whatever items or tools you buy, make sure you use it.  If you invest money and buy an item that you do not know how to use, it’s useless.

Personal Experience – I wanted to save a few bucks and bought a basic sleeping bag that didn’t have any bells or whistles.  Later on down the line, I realized the sleeping bag was way too bulky, weighed too much for a bug out situation and had no capacity to really keep someone warm.  I ended up investing in an ultralight backpack that keeps me toasty when I need it the most and is feather light.  Although I made a mistake with the first sleeping bag, I am using it as a back up, so the investment was not a complete loss.  Other items I have found that are worth spending extra money on are good toothbrushes, survival tools, water filtration systems and survival knives.

Buy preps that are multi purpose.

You want to make the most out of your preparedness investment so do some extra research and find preparedness items that have multiple functions.

Personal Experience – I have found a lot of items that have multi uses, so listing  them would be an entire article in itself.  However, here are few suggestions that would help serve a multitude of functions.  Rope, for instance, is a great multi use prep.  It can be used for hanging or securing emergency shelters, used as a laundry line or for hauling.  Other multi-function items are a good knife, multi tool, and emergency foods, such as saltbaking soda, and vinegar.

Buy foods you and your family normally eat.

 This is one of the biggest mistakes that preppers make.  You want to use the food that you store.  To get the most out of your food investment, develop good storage habits.  Further, it’s a good rule of thumb to purchase foods and items that will be used within their allotted time span, so check the expiration date!

Personal Experience – I came across some cans of seafood medley at my local grocery store and thought how great it would be to use it in an emergency situation.  I was so excited about this canned seafood because it was high in protein and vitamins, so I ended up buying 4 cans of this stuff.  Needless to say that after opening 1 of the cans up for a dinner… my family (and myself included) pushed our plates aside and decided to eat cereal instead.  I donated the remaining cans to a food bank.

Eat what you store.

In an article I wrote about storing food, I stated, “Storing food is a continual process of using, rotating and reloading.   If a short term food supply is bought, the food must be used and more food purchased to resupply the storage shelf.  Thinking of the food supply as a small store where the foods in the front have the shortest expiration date and the ones in the back have the longest.  The food storage area should be checked every six months to make sure that appropriate food items are rotated. ”

Personal Experience – I can’t tell you how many times I have had to throw away unopened food because I didn’t use it within its expiration date.  Using and rotating your food supply takes some getting used to.  Many think that the stored food is for emergencies only.  And it is, but it should also be there for you when you need it.  It’s your own personal convenience store.  When you use an item, buy a new one at the store and replace it on your shelf.

Have back ups for your back ups.

This is a golden rule for preppers.  You never know when one of your preps will break or jam up on you.  Having extra items gives you peace of mind because you are not solely dependent on one item for survival.

Personal Experience – When we were researching water filtration systems, we ended up buying a katadyn water filter (A solid investment in my opinion).  However, we began thinking about the use and effectiveness of the filter after mulitiple uses.  We decided that solely depending on one item to give up potable water was not wise.  We not only bought extra filters for our katadyn, but also invested in micro-pur tablets (chlorine dioxide  tablets), and chlorine granuals to make sure that all areas were covered.

Get  your friends and family on board.

In an emergency situation, you will need help from others.  It would be unrealistic to think differently.  Talking with friends and family about being prepared is a great way to awaken the need for their personal preparedness efforts and help you find more “like minded” individuals. Help guide them and give them advise on how to begin.

Personal Experience – We all have stories of people thinking we are “kooky” because we prepare for short or long term emergencies, and I am no different.  I have learned to take the opinions of others in stride, but I have talked with some family and friends who see the need to prepare and have started doing so.  My largest accomplishment thus far has been helping my sister become more prepared.  I have peace of mind knowing most of my immediate family is prepared – at least for a short term emergency.

There will be some friends and family members who are not going to be on board no matter how much you try and talk to them.  There will be some who will be on board and will listen to what you have to say.  Hopefully, after you share your experiences and first time mistakes, they will listen and learn from you.

What are some prepping mistakes you have made?


Prepper's Cookbook

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

10 Prepping Mistakes That Could Get You Killed (And How To Avoid Them)

This informative article has been contributed by Survival Pulse.

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Everyone that is into prepping is doing it for a good reason, to increase their chances of survival. However, there are a number of simple mistakes that can actually make you LESS likely to survive than if you didn’t prepare at all.

In no particular order, here they are, 10 prepping mistakes that could get you killed:

1. Having a false sense of security.

Just because you can put some holes in a target downrange doesn’t make you safe when shtf. Having a false sense of security could make you ignore danger that you would have otherwise responded to.

How to Avoid it: Do not underestimate your enemy! No matter how good you are, there are more dangerous and better trained people out there prepared to take what they want without asking.

2. Failing to get immediate family on board.

You are not a lone ranger. You are not good enough to protect your group alone. What if you get hurt, sick, or worse? Will your crew be able to pick up the slack. If your spouse looks at you like you are nuts when you talk about prepping, this one is for you.

How to Avoid It: Make sure your family has the basic skills and not just you. It’s better to have 2-3 knowledgeable people than one super prepper.

3. Ignoring the “boring” prepping areas.

We all know about the fun areas of prepping. Guns and ammo, bug out bags, food stockpiles, etc. However, without things like a steady supply of water or first aid skills, you could be out of the game within hours when shtf.

How to Avoid it: Make a point to spend time on all the critical prepping areas, even if they aren’t fun.

4. Never actually using you preps.

Probably the most common one on the list. Buying a bunch of crap and never even using it. I’ve seen it with everything from food, survival kits, and even guns. If you cannot act quickly and are not skilled with your gear, you might as well give it away or sell it when the time comes.

How to Avoid it: Be a prepper, not a hoarder. Use the gear that you buy until you are comfortable with it.

5. Falling in love with your plan.

If you have a plan, you are at least a few steps ahead of the game already. However, it’s extremely unlikely that your plan is perfect for every disaster. Being unwilling to deviate from your plan could easily get you killed.

How to Avoid It: Have a plan and practice it, but always have a backup plan. When practicing your plan, throw in a curve ball or two that make you improvise and think about what you would do if part of your plan failed.

6. Telling acquaintances about your preps.

The people that pose the greatest danger to you are your acquaintances. While they seem like decent friends now, that will all quickly change. Believe me, when people start to get hungry, thirsty, and angry, your “friendship” will be the last thing on their mind.

How to Avoid It: Only tell people you trust completely about your preps. If it is not someone that you would trust with your life, they are a potential threat when shtf.

7. Buying large amounts of preps at once.

It should be obvious by now the government is spying on everything you do. Buying a ton of preps from anywhere all at once is not a great idea, but especially when using a credit card or dealing with companies that are in the governments pocket.

How to Avoid It: Pay with Cash when possible and only do business with companies that respect your privacy. Explore alternate payment methods online with prepper friendly companies.

8. Ignoring OPSEC.

Preppers that wear military style clothing or fortify their homes in a way that is visible from the exterior can be doing more harm than good. Things like generators and barbed wire in areas where it is typically uncommon will make others think that you have something worth hiding.

How to Avoid It: Check out some of these articles about OPSEC . Be discreet when fortifying you residence. Make your place look as boring as possible from the outside yet very difficult to gain entry. Keep your visible preps to a minimum or move to an area where it doesn’t raise eyebrows.

9. Completely depending on your preps.

So you got a new AR, 1000 rounds of ammo, and 6 months worth of food and water. That’s great, but what happens if a natural disaster or a fire takes out your supply. Do you have an alternate plan to stay alive?

How to Avoid It: Keep it real. If the shtf, all the preps in the world are only going to give you an edge. Try have some preps spread across different locations or caches just in case something goes wrong.

10. Trying to do it all.

You will never be completely prepared for every scenario. Trying to do this will only result in burnout and may even make you think about giving up.

How to Avoid It: Focus on what you already know until you become proficient at it. Prep for the most likely shtf scenarios first.

Originally posted at SHTFplan.com.


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SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You