I have been prepping now most of my life—probably ever since I read My Side of the Mountain as a fourth grader and wanted to run away and live in a tree in the mountains like Sam.
I have seen and made many mistakes. One of the more common mistakes preppers tend to make is that they fall in love with one or two basic preps and concentrate on those to the exclusion of others. The most common example is that of buying guns and ammo along with nothing else. Good luck eating all those bullets.
The opposite can also be true. You can concentrate on providing your family with food from now until the end of time, but if you neglect the guns and ammo part, someone may just come along and take the food from you.
In the prepping game, there are so many little things to think of that many can be overlooked. Here are six that you might be overlooking in your preps.
A Good Knife
What is in your pocket right now? Hopefully whatever is in there it includes a good pocketknife. A knife that you will use should be with you at all times possible, or at least all times legal. I honestly cannot remember a day in my adult life that I haven’t had a pocketknife in my possession. (And no, I haven’t flown since 9/11.)
In addition to a good pocketknife, you should get a decent field knife. A heavy knife is almost a requirement for cutting up a large game animal. I prefer one with a thick blade for field use (I carry a large Bowie) and a thinner boning or butcher knife for use around the homestead.
A multi tool is a good thing, but the ones I have owned really don’t replace any of the stand-alone tools they are equipped with. I like a knife with a handle, not a backwards pair of pliers.
Make sure you have enough extras in case of breakage, because knives do break on occasion.
A Good First Aid Kit
Do you have a first aid kit? Have you looked inside it? Many of the cheap first aid kits on the market today are nothing more than a glorified box of band-aids. This may work in many situations, but what happens when you need more?
You should get a serious first aid kit. There several available on the market. After you get one, open it up and remove all the contents and figure out what is actually in it. After you know for sure what is in the kit, start adding to it.
Things to add include:
- A field surgical kit
- Maxi pads (for stopping bleeding wounds)
- Triangular bandages (once you learn how to use them you will understand how handy they are)
- Any prescription medication that you may need for an extended time in the field
- A wound staple gun
- Super glue (seals cuts quickly)
- More of anything you think you might need
A first aid kit is a personal item, so you really need to decide what works best for you. Just because you have that plastic box with a red cross on it doesn’t mean you are good to go.
A Flashlight That Works When You Need It
Be honest, how many non-working flashlights do you have lying around or stashed away somewhere? Just doing a quick mental count, I can think of at least six at our house. To be fair, we moved into my grandparents’ house several years ago, and their marginal-quality flashlights just haven’t gotten tossed yet.
We have a couple of the Russian squeeze lights that we bought for our kids when they were little. They work but are noisy and put out very little light. They would do in a pinch, but I don’t want to use one to head out to the chicken coop in the dark. I have not had the chance to try a shake light yet, so I can’t comment on them.
My preferred light is a rechargeable LED work light. They are cheap and put out quite a bit of light.
My wind-up radio has an LED light on it that lasts all night. We used it as a night light for the kids one night when we were without power and they were scared of the dark. A few minutes of cranking had the light still shining—albeit dimmer—eight hours later.
If you prefer a regular flashlight, a good old Maglite is hard to beat. They put out a lot of light for a long distance, and as many in law enforcement know, they can double as a baton. I’ve even known someone who, wanting to prove how tough their Maglite was, threw it out the window of a car going highway speed. When they went back to get it, it still worked perfectly. Make sure to stock a considerable amount of batteries (or rechargeables with a charger) to keep it lit.
Make sure to have a good main flashlight you can use in emergencies and a couple backups that don’t require batteries for long-term emergency use.
A Wind-up Radio
Speaking of my wind-up radio, I don’t know how I got along before my wife bought it for me as a Christmas present a few years ago. I can listen to the game while lounging around outside and never have to worry about batteries.
A radio is very important to have in weather emergencies. I know in our case, we lose power and can no longer get storm updates. You can listen on your car, but who wants to run out in a storm and get in their car just to listen to the radio?
A small battery-operated radio will work, but how many times have you turned on a battery operated whatever that has been sitting for six months and gotten nothing because the juice is gone?
A Sewing Kit
A sewing kit is something no one thinks about until they need it. If you don’t have one, pick up an inexpensive traveler’s sewing kit. Then get some extra needles and thread. I like using a curved needle for sewing holes in animal hides, so you should get a couple of those also.
These little kits are compact and cheap. Get an extra one for every bug-out bag in your family. Put one in your car kit also. Being able to repair clothing or anything else that may need sewn is well worth the small price paid.
Batteries… does anyone in the world have enough batteries? Well, maybe that bunny guy. Stocking up on batteries when you find a good deal is a great idea.
Batteries (alkaline) stored at room temperature or cooler lose less than 2 percent of their charge per year. When the temps get up to 85, the rate climbs to 5 percent, and at 100, the rate is 25 percent. So, as you can see, cooler is better for storing batteries. You may have heard to store your batteries in the freezer, but experts say the colder temps add very little to storage life. A cool, dry place seems to be the best idea.
On the other hand, NiMH and NiCd discharge at a much higher rate, and research has shown that cold storage slows the discharge considerably. Batteries that are stored in electronic devices themselves lose their charge much faster.
To be really set in the battery department, pick up several sets of rechargeables along with chargers that work with wind and solar.
These six are just the tip of the iceberg. Prepping is something that is slightly different for each of us. Look at your own situation from the outside and try to see what you may be missing.
©2012 Off the Grid News