Thankfully, now, I’m older, wiser, and know a lot of things first-hand from the mistakes I’ve made (not to mention the time, money, and resources I’ve wasted) in the process. Thankfully, this is my chance for redemption, as I’m going to help pass along my knowledge to you.
Whether you’re a brand new prepper just starting out, or you’ve been doing this as long as I have , you can glean some wisdom from this article. So here’s my list of…
24 Mistakes You Need To Know Before Prepping
First of all, before I get into this, I wanted to show you a short video covering some of the basics. This is great for first-timers and good reminders for those of us that have been prepping for a while:
1 – Test Everything
You’ve just purchased a ton of great new survival equipment that claims to be the best, fastest, and most valuable thing on the planet. So therefore, you need to test it out to be sure.
Too many people assume their gear is going to work, only to get in a situation where they need it and it breaks halfway through. Do yourself a favor and test the quality of the product, and practice using it over and over so you know how it works.
2 – Don’t Break The Bank
It can seem exciting (and overwhelming) to get into the prepping world, and it’s easy to feel pressure to buy all your supplies at once. However, this can often be a mistake, since you often bust through your budget in the first ten minutes.
Take your time and find good deals as sales pop up, and shop around to compare product reviews and prices, while making sure to keep your finances in check.
3 – Keep Physically Active
I can see you rolling your eyes right now, but I’m serious – this is important stuff. Your health and physical well-being are key factors in your ability to survive.
After all, t’s likely in a crisis you’ll have to lug around your bug out bag, hunt around for shelter, and potentially travel great distances.
You don’t have to be a body builder – doing little things like jogging, walking and participating in a sport or workout class can do wonders for your health and help give you the best chance at survival.
4 – Think Outside The Can
So many people get stuck in what I call the “Campbells crisis mode” that they only stock up on canned items for their disaster pantry.
Now don’t get me wrong – I like chicken noodle soup and canned carrots as much as the next guy – but your body needs more nutrients than what canned food can provide (plus all that sodium is no good for your body).
Mix it up with freeze-dried and dry foods to keep your nutrition up and your stockpile diverse.
5 – ALWAYS Know How To Get Home
Lots of preppers forget that emergencies are often random, and don’t stop to wait for you to get home to your loved ones. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan if disaster strikes while you’re at work, in your car, at the grocery store, etc.
If you can’t get home, plan on a meeting place that you and your family can get to if SHTF.
Which leads me to another point….
6 – Never Assume
Everyone’s got an idea of how, when, and what type of disaster is going to strike. But in the end, that’s all they are – ideas.
Rather than just preparing for an economic collapse, also consider what you would do to survive in a tornado, flood, EMP, terrorist attack, active shooting, job loss, fire, etc. The point is not to “be right no matter what” – the point is to be prepared no matter what.
7 – Don’t Forget Your Pets
It isn’t fun to think about, but the day might come when SHTF and you need to decide whether you leave your pet in the crisis or to bring it with. If you decide to bring them, also consider you’ll have needed to save up food, water, and supplies for them as well.
You’ll also need space to store all this in the meantime, and the ability to carry it in a crisis.
Before you start worrying about food plans, we’ve got you covered with our Emergency Dog Food – it offers complete, balanced nutrition for dogs and cats of every life stage, and has a shelf life of five years! You can see it here.
8 – Stock The Foods You’ll Actually Eat
It seems like common sense, but hear me out – preppers can get so wrapped up in buying all this “top notch” survival food that they never take the time to actually try the stuff (only to find out later it tastes like garbage).
In other cases, preppers want to be sure to eat nutritious food, and so they put tons of frozen veggies/fruits away that they (or their kids) don’t actually like and will never touch. Here’s a bit of advice: if you don’t like it now, you won’t like it then.
True, survival can help encourage you to “get over” the bad taste in your mouth, but your family’s morale will be a lot higher when eating stuff that actually tastes good.
9 – Plan To Help People With Special Needs
It’s important to remember the sick, elderly and disabled will need to have their medication, walkers/wheelchairs, oxygen, etc. to survive in a crisis. Therefore, it’s important to remember to prepare to help these people in addition to yourself.
Start by setting aside supplies for friends, family, and neighbors that might be affected. A little bit of preparation by each person goes a long way in keeping these people safe and healthy.
10 – Rotate Your Food Supply
A good food supply will be chock-full of delicious foods that have long shelf-lives. However, it’s easy to forget about what’s down there, and to let time go by and the food to expire unknowingly.
That’s why it helps to adopt the FIFO (First In, First Out) method. Use food that’s nearing its expiration date first, and keep that stuff at the front. Keep food with expiration dates further out toward the back. Shift the products forward accordingly as you buy.
11 – Keep A Running Inventory Sheet
It’s important to keep a running inventory of what food, gear, water, supplies, etc. you have on-hand so you don’t buy duplicates by mistake (and you don’t run out, either). Keep track of everything you have by writing it down, and edit it as you use things.
12 – Rotate Your Medication
Much like your food, your meds need to be rotated as well to keep them from going out of date. It also can be helpful to have certain amounts in various places, such as three days’ worth of meds in your car, two weeks’ worth in your purse or backpack, four days’ worth in your medical kit, etc. This will help you stay prepared no matter where you are.
13 – Have More Than One Way To Make A Fire
It’s important to have a variety of fire starters and tinder in your bug out bag. For example, matches and lighters are obvious, but you can also get creative – for example, ordinary cotton balls dipped in vaseline burn long and hot and make excellent fire starters.
14 – Don’t Forget Your Hygiene
It can be easy to forget your sanitary needs when you’re busy stocking up on water, food and gear – but this one is just as important as those. After all, staying clean helps prevent you from getting sick (which is the last thing you want in a crisis).
Note: It’s often best to use biodegradable toilet paper in emergencies. Here’s a case of 80 biodegradable rolls to get you started.
15 – Take Your Time on DIY Projects
DIY projects are great, but they can be intimidating due to the time, tools and skills you need to get the job done well.
Before you let self-doubt settle in, take some time and really contemplate what you’ll need, and get some help from friends, family and professionals to help you along.
Also, don’t feel like you have to get it all done that day (or even that week) – just make small steps of progress every single day. It might take longer than what feels comfortable, but in the end you’ll have a great addition to your prepping, and perhaps a new skill or two to show off.
16 – Save The Scraps
Make sure to save the scraps from finished DIY projects (such as leftover fabric, nails, etc.), and put them in a storage container. Next time you need them, you won’t have to run to the store.
17 – Practice, Practice, Practice
Think you’re prepared for anything? Here’s a fun way to tell – have a buddy (who’s also a prepper) give you a call sometime during the week (at random).
Have them give you a surprise emergency drill, and run (literally) through everything you’d do to survive in that situation. Then talk about what you did, and how you can be quicker and more efficient next time.
Next week, you call them.
18 – Share The Weight
Strap on your bug out bag and carry it with you around the house for a few hours. How long can you go without becoming exhausted?
If you find the weight is too heavy, distribute what you can into plastic bags with handles, and then put these back in the bag. When you’re in an emergency, this will help you to distribute the supplies among your group when you get tired.
Are you worried you have too much stuff in your bug out bag (or maybe not enough)? Click here for the essentials you’ll need.
19 – Stash The Cans
Grab a small amount of canned fruits, veggies and meat (as well as a few plastic utensils and a reliable manual can opener) and stash them under your car seat. That way, you’ll have food with you wherever you go that won’t require heating.
20 – Practice Living Beneath Your Means
It can be so easy to keep spending money as we normally do, thinking we’ll have income forever and never stopping to think of the consequences. That’s why a great solution to this is to begin saving money by living beneath your means now.
Think of luxuries you can go without (like your Netflix account) and throw these things out/cancel the subscriptions for a while. You’ll be surprised at the amount of money you save, as well as how much time you’ll have freed up to focus on more important matters.
21 – Invest In Sturdy Shelving
It can be tempting to purchase cheap shelves for your food/gear storage, but think of it this way – you’ll be piling a lot more stuff on these throughout the years. Make sure they can stand up to the added weight. Wire shelving, for example, is a great, sturdy alternative.
22 – Store Tons Of Water
Humans, on average, can survive up to three weeks without food…but can only last about three days (or less) without water. Be sure to store lots of water, and keep more than you think you’ll need (you’ll end up using more than you think you will).
When disaster strikes, water will be your most important ally, so treat it as such and stock up.
23 – Don’t Store Water In Milk Jugs
It might seem smart and convenient to store water in used milk cartons – after all, you’re consolidating resources, right? However, this is can have very dangerous consequences.
Oftentimes, the residue from the milk is hard to clean out beforehand, and bacteria living in that residue can leach out into your water and make you sick.
Rather than worrying about it, store clean, filtered water in storage containers and barrels for worry-free drinking.
24 – Always Have A Method Of Water Filtration
This is a huge one for me – if you’re bugging out, it can be cumbersome to carry lots of water jugs in your go-bag. That’s why it’s crucial to have a water filtration system for both your house (while bugging in) and on the go. One way is to keep pots with you to boil water to ensure its safety.
Water filtration is no laughing matter – as your most precious resource, water can rehydrate you and replenish you – or it can kill you if it’s full of bacteria and disease.
However, like I mentioned, you don’t want to weigh down your bug out bag more than you have to (which makes it hard when you have to bring pots and pans to boil water). So what do you do?
A fantastic option that I personally love is our LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. This incredible survival tool was named “Invention of the Year” by Time Magazine, and for just cause – it’s one of the best portable water filters out there, transforming dirty water into pure drinking water in just seconds.
It’s so easy to use, too – just submerge the LifeStraw into water (seriously, any water – no matter how dirty) and drink out of it like a straw. In seconds, the LifeStraw filters out 99.99% of the water’s bacteria, parasites, and fine particles, giving you fresh, clean drinking water in return.
You won’t have to worry about the LifeStraw weighing you down, either – this little gadget weighs only 2 ounces!
My favorite part, though, is it gives one person clean drinking water for up to a year. That’s an extra year of survival water you no longer have to worry about.
Click here or on the picture below to check out this extremely powerful water filter and see what all the hype (91 5-star reviews!) is about.