Prepping is such a broad area that it’s easy to overlook things and make mistakes. While there are many websites and blogs out there giving advice, they don’t always agree. That makes it easy for the newbie prepper to get confused. On top of that, nobody really knows who the authorities on prepping are and who aren’t. So, whose advice do you listen to?
Prepping is a very individualized endeavor. A lot of how you prep has to do with the disasters that you think are likely to come your way. That varies from region to region and based upon the individual’s knowledge and concerns. Some are very concerned about specific cataclysmic events that the rest of us don’t give any thought to. Based on that concern, they might put effort into things that don’t make sense to you and me.
The truth of the matter is that none of us know what tomorrow has in store for us. The Japanese people who were hit by the tsunami in 2011 weren’t expecting to be the victims of such a horrible disaster. The same could be said for just about all the victims of almost any disaster that you can mention. The truth is, we don’t usually have much notice – if any — for disasters.
As preppers, we must accept the fact that much of what we are going to do isn’t ever going to be used. We will prepare for disasters that never come and spend time and money on equipment and supplies that we’ll never use. But at the same time, we can be sure that some of what we do will be used to get our family through a disaster, making our investment worthwhile.
With that in mind, what are some of the biggest mistakes that preppers make and how can we avoid them?
1. Focusing on only one disaster scenario
If you’ve watched the program Doomsday Preppers, you see everyone they do a story on has one prime disaster scenario they are preparing for. While I’m sure that’s sensationalized for television, I’m also sure that there are people who are that focused. Since none of us know what type of disaster we are likely to face, focusing on only one is a dangerous strategy. You’re better off doing broad-range prepping, which can serve you in a wide variety of calamities. Once you’ve done that, if there is a specific potential disaster that concerns you, you might want to do some special preps for it.
2. Not creating a plan for how to survive
There’s an old saying that “failure to plan is planning to fail.” A mountain of survival equipment, weapons and food won’t help you survive if you don’t have a plan for how you are going to use it. While it’s hard to plan when we don’t know what’s coming, it is possible to plan for a number of likely scenarios. That way, you at least have some idea of what to do if those should occur. Even if a disaster you didn’t plan comes along, you’ll at least have some plan for survival that you can adapt to the situation.
3. Not prepping mentally
Survival is a mindset, more than a specific set of skills. If you are going to survive a disaster, you need to develop the right mindset. You need to develop self-sufficiency. You need to know that you can do it. Take protecting your family as an example. Buying guns and target practice aren’t enough if you haven’t settled in that you will do what it takes to protect your loved ones.
4. Not paying attention to OPSEC
OPSEC (operational security) is important to preppers. With less than one percent of our overall population preparing to face a disaster, there are a lot of people around who aren’t going to know what to do. If they know that you have food, then you can be sure that they will be knocking on your door. You have to keep what you are doing secret, as much as possible. That’s not cruelty, that’s practicality. While we all might want to help others, we have to take care of our family first.
5. Focusing on stockpiling, without learning skills
A good stockpile of food and other supplies is important for surviving many types of disasters. At the same time, you can’t count on only those supplies for your survival. If your home washes away in a flood or is consumed by a fire, your supplies will probably be lost as well. In that case, what will help you survive is knowing the right skills. Knowledge will help you to overcome, whether you have supplies or not.
6. Saying “that can’t happen”
So often it’s the thing we don’t see which comes back to haunt us. I try to honestly evaluate every disaster scenario that “scare tactics” talk about. Most of them are based on some sort of truth. Just dismissing them out of hand may cause me to dismiss a real threat as not being possible. Northern Colorado has been largely flooded in recent months, something that many thought was impossible.
When we say that something can’t happen, we decide not to do anything about it. That’s the exact opposite of the prepper mentality. True prepping is preparing for everything, even those things that aren’t likely to happen. While the unlikely may not get as much attention as the likely, it shouldn’t be ignored.
The best thing you can do to avoid these common mistakes is to get yourself informed. Learn everything you can about prepping and survival. Don’t accept everything you hear; instead use some discretion, bouncing the information from one source off of what you hear from other sources. Between them, you’ll find the truth. Then deal with that truth, so that you are ready to deal with whatever else life might bring your way.