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Saturday, August 21, 2010

New to prepping? Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

Loose lips might sink ships bwImage via Wikipedia
Once people wake up to the idea that the .Gov isn't going to take care of them and that when bad things happen you can't count on running down to Wall-Mart they decide to start prepping.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid. I share these with you not because I'm the prepping guru but because I've made many of these mistakes (or seen others make them). Hopefully you'll find them thought provoking.

1) Get Overwhelmed: When you think about all the things that can go wrong and try to prepare for them it can be daunting. Don't get overwhelmed. Start with the most likely scenarios that can happen in your life and build from there. Don't get overwhelmed and throw your hands up in defeat since you can't prepare for everything tomorrow afternoon.

2) Try to buy everything at once It's easy to read about the supplies other people have and forget that they've accumulated those stocks over years. Don't try to go to the store and in one big shopping trip buy everything you'll ever need. It just flat doesn't work. You end up buying crap you don't need and overlooking things you do. Start small, focus on one area at a time (say medical supplies or building an extra month's supply of food, etc) and build from there.

3) Fail to consider local events It's easy to get fixated on big national events (what if the grid collapses!!!!) and fail to consider local events. Is there a chemical plant upwind from your home? How about a rail line that hauls chemicals from those plants? Are you downstream from a large damn or reservoir? In the midst of a forest prone to fires in the dry season? Lots of storms come through your area? Do you live near a bank that gets robbed a lot? How about a river that floods?

Which leads to the next point...

4) Focus on one type of event It's easy to fixate on a Mad-Max style total catastrophic societal collapse that turns the entire US into Red Dawn II. While that does have a certain romantic appeal you can't think of "SHTF" as one specific monolithic event.

5) Fixate on one type of prep I've said before having a 2,000,000 gallon tank of water doesn't make much sense if you have no first aid supplies. The goal is balance. The corollary to this is to avoid becoming fixated on firearms. They are fun to shoot and discuss but they are but one aspect of a balanced prep plan.

6) Loose Lips Sink Ships When people first turn on to prepping their natural inclination is to want to share their new philosophy/Epiphany with friends and loved ones. "How do I convince a non-prepper" is a common thread topic here. While it's admirable to want to "spread the message" keep in mind that you don't want people knowing what you have. Keep your supplies and efforts to yourself.

7) Buy best quality you can afford This is a tough one but it's a lesson I've had to learn over and over and over again (especially since I'm a card carrying GearWhore). Buy the best you can afford. You can risk getting the one good item out of the 100 crappy ones, or the 1 bad one out of 100 great ones. The choice is yours. A $15 backpack that *might* hold up (or might dump all your gear out at the worst possible time) is no deal compared to the $85 one that will only fail when struck by lightening.

The only caveat to "buy the best you can afford" is that you have to pick your battles. To me a $600 Aimpoint for a rifle is worth it, on the other hand the $5,000 water filtration system isn't. Someone else might think the Aimpoint is dumb. Point is, I've made a calculation that I can live with smaller water filters and use the resources in other ways (and bought the best water filter within the limits of my budget).


These are some of the common rookie mistakes people make when they jump into prepping. Likely many of us here have made some or all of them along the way. Don't worry, none of these are crippling if you've made them. Just be aware of the pitfalls and try to learn from us dummies who fell before you!

Hope this is helpful.

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