Making mistakes is part of human nature. We learn from our mistakes and they help us grow and thrive, and they actually do make us stronger. However, when it comes to prepping, mistakes might be costly- after all, you are preparing for worst-case scenarios and planning in order to survive when things go awry, so making major prepper mistakes along the way can have disastrous effects in the long run.
If you consider prepping yourself, the amount of information available might seem overwhelming and it’s easy to get lost and confused. Thankfully, there is a lot of more experienced preppers willing to share nuggets of wisdom and their tried and true methods for successful prepping.
5 Prepper Rookie Mistakes
Even if you’re not a newbie at prepping, it couldn’t hurt to check if what you’re doing is actually efficient, so here are the 5 most common mistakes that rookie preppers (as well as some veterans) often make:
1. Lack of actual practice
The core of the prepper lifestyle is to plan ahead and be prepared for any given number of disasters that will require you to put your skills and knowledge to the test. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in all the planning and prepping and lose sight of the bigger picture, which actually has a counterproductive effect.
Prepping is not only planning without practicing and trying out your plans in reality. One of the worst things you can do is focus all your energy on coming up with evacuation plans, survival strategies, and emergency game plans without trying out if your plans would actually work when put to the test.
Would you be comfortable playing in the NBA finals with only countless basketball games you watched to back you up? No, of course not- some things just can’t be planned and thoroughly researched, and in order to have a successful outcome, you need to put in a lot of practice. No matter how foolproof and clever your plans and strategies might seem, without testing them out first you can never know if they will actually work when things go south.
Make a trial run of your bug out plan. Feel how it would actually be if you had to evacuate from your home, and take notice of every little detail of the process- is your bug out bag too heavy, are there things you needed and didn’t have, is the route to your bug out location the best one possible- and make sure that your plans are still solid even when put to test.
2. Losing Sight of Realistic Threats
Some preppers tend to fixate on doomsday scenarios, and, unfortunately, that’s how most people see preppers, thanks to the reality show portraying prepper lifestyle in a narrow-minded fashion. This allows people to discredit the actual value and tremendous logic behind prepping, by shrugging the need to prepare off by thinking that the only reason for prepping is for a zombie apocalypse or a meteorite disaster. In reality, things are so much more different.
Of course, who’s to say that there’s no chance of a deadly virus decimating humanity or nuclear fallout, but these events are less likely to occur than, let’s say, a devastating hurricane, earthquake or economic collapse. Preparing for the worst-case scenario that’s highly unlikely to happen anytime soon leaves you vulnerable to actual, very real and plausible risks and threats that happen all around the world every day.
Natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy hit swiftly and unexpectedly, and in these situations, having a bug out plan and survival skills are the things that may well save you and your family’s lives. A blizzard or a tornado can lead to power outages or water and food supply shortage, and just like that, all your prepping will bear fruit. Prepping for real-life scenarios is infinitely more likely to have a positive outcome, than obsessing over extreme scenarios that might not come to pass in your lifetime.
Focus on your area and the common risks and threats that are the most likely to happen. Use the knowledge you have to customize your prepping lifestyle, and ensure that you’ll be able to overcome anything that comes in your way. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t think big- you should actually have a contingency plan in place for those situations too, just make sure you have your priorities set straight, and assess which risks are the most realistic ones, given your place of residence.
3. Focusing On Stocking Up Rather Than Skills
Stockpiling food, weapons, and surviving gear are essential when preparing for worst-case scenarios. Having a basement filled with enough rations to last you a few years, ammunition to spare and all the tools and gadgets that will give you an upper hand when all hell breaks loose actually doesn’t mean you are prepared- it just means you’ve covered one aspect of it.
There’s always a high probability of losing your stash- it can be looted, lost in a natural disaster or just needed to be left behind in an emergency evacuation. That’s where your skills will help you shine.
It’s completely wrong to become lulled into the feeling of false security, and the fact you are fully stocked and prepared doesn’t mean your preparedness will be a foundation for sustainability. Even if nothing happens to everything you’ve stocked, what will happen after 2 or 3 years, when your resources dry up?
It is essential to be able to rely on your own skills and abilities to help you survive in different disastrous situations. Just stop and think, what if everything you prepared to help you survive just vanished when you need it the most- would you be able to rebuild from scratch and adjust to scarcity without a substantial backup?
You should always nurture your survival skills and hone them day in and day out, whether it’s tending your own garden, becoming an expert hunter and a marksman, or just working on your orientation skills. Stocking on survival and prepping books sure is smart, but you’ll need to be able to put all that useful information into use. Developing survival skills is crucial for sustainability and success, and without being able to apply all the knowledge you’ve gained over the years, all will be for naught.
4. Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
The fact that having a bug out plan is a very important part of the prepping lifestyle is an indication enough that you can never count on just one safe location. When SHTF, having all your resources in one place is a recipe for disaster- in case your safe location isn’t destroyed, it becomes a potential jackpot to looters. On the other hand, if you place your food, weapons and other gear in different secure locations, you won’t be left stranded in case one of them was stolen or ruined. It’s really important out of other prepper mistakes.
Just think of having multiple locations for your stock same as of a bug out plan- being able to rely on your home be your fortress in dire times sure is ideal, but there are chances you’ll need to write off your main safe haven and look for another location to survive.
Keep all of your safe locations secure and hidden, and reveal their whereabouts only to your family. Having the people that are closest to you privy to this important information can prove to be extremely useful in case you get separated or something happens to you.
But, it’s not only your valuable stash of food, gear and other necessities that need a backup plan. Create multiple bugs out routes, to ensure you’ll always have a viable way to access your bug out location, no matter the circumstances of the emergency. Keep a bug out bag stored safely in different places, such as your workplace, car, and home. You can never know how exactly will the events unfold and what safe places and resources will you be able to access. By multiplying places you can use for shelter and having more than one location for securely storing survival essentials, you’re also increasing your chances of success.
5. Overlooking The Importance of Communication and Networking
Some of the prepping websites tend to place people in one’s community in the context of looting, chaos and portray them as something to fend off and defended from. Sure, there’s always a big chance that other people can become a threat in the case of disasters and emergencies, but an important part of sustainable prepping is getting to know your neighbors and building a secure network of people who could rebuild and help one another.
Of course, you should always have in mind that sharing information about your stock and preparedness is a delicate business- what you share and who you share it with should always be cautiously handled. Your safe locations, shelters, and information about your resources should be shared only with the people closest to you and revealing this to people other than your family can lead to unfortunate situations and potentially, big problems.
However, that doesn’t mean you should think of yourself as a lone wolf. People do their best when teamed up, and having people work together towards a common goal is a surefire way to both survive and thrive. A good support network can be a priceless asset in times of need, and where better to start than in your own neighborhood? Get to know the people who are living next door, and try to create strong relationships with them, and who knows, it just might be their helping hand you’ll need the most when things go sideways.
Another thing that often gets overlooked is the importance of communication channels. When the power lines go down, how will you know what’s happening outside your own safe haven? Information can be invaluable, and in times of catastrophe, having a way to hear about news and the ability to communicate with other people can be a life-saver. The smartest investment is to buy and set up a HAM radio. You’ll be able to get in touch with people all around the world if need be, and nothing will surprise you if you have a source of information.
What About Other Frequent Prepper Mistakes?
Now that we’ve gone over the 5 most common prepper mistakes that preppers make, you’re probably thinking to yourself, but how to avoid all the other mistakes and ensure you’re preparing efficiently?
Everything people do is just trial and error, and the best method is yet to be decided upon. The safest way is to combine your own common sense with the advice and experiences of prepping veterans. By following your own instincts, as well as useful guidelines, tips, and tricks from prepping pros, you’ll learn from both your own mistakes and the ones other people make.
But, the key to avoiding mistakes and being a successful prepper is to truly understand what prepping is all about. It’s not a hobby, fad or a pastime activity. Prepping is a way of life. Most newbies start off on the wrong foot, thinking that stocking on ammo or canned foods is all that it takes to be a prepper. The reality is, however, quite more complex than that. The essence of preparedness isn’t just in hoarding large quantities of users and resources, it requires commitment, effort, and perseverance. Prepping is a whole package deal, and you’ll need all of your bases covered, and a superficial approach to it simply won’t lead anywhere.
When you truly sit down and realize that at any given moment, your world might turn upside down and that you’ll be forced to fend for yourself and your family, as well as that day, might be much closer than you think, your perspective on life shifts. You’ll begin to understand the importance of sustainability and independence, and that’s when the prepper’s mindset will start to kick in.
At that moment, you’ll realize you’re not prepping to fend off zombies, you’re preparing for a self-reliant, purposeful lifestyle. Instead of wasting your time on trinkets and trivial distractions, you’re actually becoming your best self- the person who can secure their own survival and protect and care for their families in times of need.
People have grown lazy and overly dependent on luxuries of modern life, but deep down, our instincts are in the right place, deep down, each and every one us has the drive for survival and the tools to achieve it with. All you need to do is find that place within yourself, and start preparing for the worst.