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6 Mistakes People Make When Prepping (And How to Avoid Them)

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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.

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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.

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  1. One of the first things anyone must do to prepare for any disaster possibility is make a threat assessment. Once you’ve identified the threats, you make a list of the most likely on down to the very unlikely. This alone will help you prepare for the disasters that my hit your area. For instance, if you live in Kansas, the likelyhood of experiencing a hurricane is non-existant. But, the threat of a tornado is very, very likely.
    The object of a threat assessment is to apply the resources to the real threats. If you live in a high-crime neighborhood, you better put security at the top of your list. I love reading the articles provided in Off-the-grid-news. Every article doesn’t apply to my situation but that doesn’t stop me from reading every one. I always glean something from them. Keep up the good work in helping us prepare for what we hope will never happen.

  2. My mistake: not having adequate water stored, besides my water heater (40 gallons there).
    I live in northern Colorado in the area affected by the floods recently, but since I live on high ground
    I always thought it would not affect me personally. That is until I could not get to work due to flood
    closed bridges and the water supply was compromised due to water lines breaking where they
    crossed the river. I have many water containers, ready to be filled but they don’t do me any good
    if the water is shut off suddenly. Number one priority now is to clean and fill my water storage
    containers since I just drained my rain barrel due to cold weather.

  3. My concept is to already be there in your safe place – already being well established on your homestead – not having to go there (making a desperate run for cover at the last moment hoping you make it) when the proverbial crash comes. By being prepared for a long term disaster long before it comes, we are by default prepared for all short term disasters as well. So, why not be there, live there, work there rather than go there in desperation and hope that you are ready for what is yet to come?

    We are talking about a lifestyle that prepares us for any short term crises as well as any long term crises such as a devastating economic collapse; or perhaps being faced with the terrible “T”… the Tribulation period. This concept is much wiser than the prepper and survivalist mentality because it extends from Adam into eternity, not just the here and now. To me this is all so logical and self evident to be true.

    This lifestyle we advocate can be labeled as homesteading or Christian community, depending on whether you go it alone or together with like minded friends.

    What is being proposed here is a time tested, lifetime lifestyle that best prepares one for any eventuality in life. In fact this lifestyle is something like 6,000 years old … from Adam to us.

  4. Survival knowledge can be applied to more situations than I can list here. Flooding in Colorado, Early blizzard in the upper Midwest, tornado’s in central Oklahoma. All of these nationally reported incidents have happened in the last 6 months within 6 hours drive time from my home. They happened fast, and with little or no warning. I like to prepare for short and long term incidents as well as those that slap you in the face with no warning. Focusing on a single scenario could easily get you killed. OPSEC in these times can be very tricky. Shopping at the same stores, using credit or debit cards, buying large quantities, unloading items in daylight, or under the watchful eye of those around you, can all cause problems down the line. I won’t even go into weapons as those are registered sixteen ways from Sunday. Mental prepping is one of the least discussed, yet most important, facets of the entire survival situation. Think, re-think, and think again about the who, what, when, where, and why of any possible threats to your survival. Get away from it a bit. Constant dwelling on the negative is just as bad as not thinking about it at all. There is a line between rational preparations and precautions and paranoia. Smell the flowers while you are practicing their identification and reviewing their medicinal uses! Above all, and in every situation……DON’T PANIC!

  5. A nice article. Thank you!

  6. At the tender age of 72 (with a diabetic wife , aged 66) , running and fleeing is out of the question … Like the folks at the Alamo , we’ll make our last stand , here …. Molon Labe , amigos …. fran k. … (N.Va.)

  7. My threat levels are pretty much balanced throughout so I have not concentrated for any particular, rather, all possible. IMO continually accruing trillion dollar debt each year can only result in HIGH or HYPER INFLATION. I have spent some $$ on a few things I may never need but primarily stocking up on things that I will need – rain or shine. Only bad thing is making room for the extra food, water, med supplies, tools, fuel, etc. Good thing is I am paying today’s prices rather than higher prices tomorrow. And on 2nd thought, perhaps I should increase my catastrophic home insurance (in case of fire) to cover my supplies.

  8. think this way, think of a worse case senerio that in a million yrs you think could never happen……and prep for it with a little something for everything, from a flood to a nuclear war with the most important issue being protecting you and your supplies from those who will do anything to take them from you!
    I’m going off the grid in the mtns of Northern Arizona where the only ones who will be able to find you are the ones who also live there for the same reasons! there is quite a few Vietnam vets living in those same mtns off the land and will help with their blood if need be!

  9. Well, as I’m near a river valley I prep for floods, with the rare tornado thrown in, and snowfall. My big disaster prep is if New Madrid takes it into it’s head to finally let go. Really need to find a different job, though. I’m retail and the quickest way NOT to get home will be to be working the day this happens. We can break a million dollars and have cleared shelves simply by the weatherman calling for a few inches of snow. (What is it with bread, milk and eggs/snowfall? Everyone suddenly craves French Toast?) Once the food’s gone from an earthquake hitting the supply lines and people looting of the shelves, the back rooms are next and I’m not planning on being there. Glad I live in a state with a ‘castle law’. That supposed 3 day restock supply in each store won’t last a looting. A word of caution if you are in the stores and something hits, stay away from the supply storage steels shelving in back. The shelves are held to the floor with only 24 bolts into the cement, and some are poorly braced. Having 18 feet of cold, hard metal full of 7, 6 foot wide by 12 feet long shelves of canned goods come crashing down on you is going to leave a smear on the floor. Don’t go for the meat or frozen food, either, those steels are merely pushed into place with no bracing and less bolts. I can shove the cake decorators’ steel around just by running into it with a heavy pallet load of supplies, and it’s only 8 feet high. Chose your battles, trying to beat the crowd to supplies you’ve missed is not a winning move….

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