prepper mistakes to avoid

Prepper Mistakes On The Way To Higher Level Preparedness

Prepper mistakes during prepping and preparedness. We all make mistakes along the way. I certainly have, and still do make mistakes. The best we can do is try to learn from them. So I thought that I would list some prepping mistakes to avoid during your journey towards being prepared on a higher level.

Prepping & Preparedness Mistakes

It’s just my opinion, and thoughts are in no particular order (let’s hear yours too in the comments below..)

Not enough focus on the most core essential of preparedness – water.

We take it for granted. That is, the constant availability of water. However, water is ridiculously essential for survival. Not only do we need clean drinking water to stay alive, but also for the many additional day-to-day uses.

Two things to consider. The first is easy, and most preppers easily accomplish this. The second thing though, is where preppers need to focus more of their time, assuming you’re prepping at a higher level.

First, obtain a supply of drinking water for short term situations. Get a good drinking water filter. Easy enough, right? Okay, but here’s where some lose focus..

Second, however, is ‘the long term’. And, the really long term. Should the worst happen, and if you are unable to procure water day after day after day.. you will die. Period.

Do you live on a lake, river, constant stream, or spring? Excellent! All you need now is the method of transport back and forth to your castle, and again, a great water filter (and spare filters).

However, many or most people do not live on, or very near, one of these water sources. You better figure out what you’re going to do about getting water. That is, if you’re considering SHTF scenarios such as grid-down and/or infrastructure collapse.

I’ve written about this very topic a number of times here on the blog. And I believe that avoiding the details and mitigation of long term water procurement – is one of the big prepper mistakes that could happen along the way towards a higher level of preparedness.

Not thinking through the reality of surviving without the power grid – longer than just the short or medium term outage.

Again, on the road towards a higher level of preparedness, the many potential and very significant impacts of a non-functioning power grid. Short term is easy. But a long, or very long grid-down timeline will be quite difficult, and could even become deadly.

The prepper mistake is to not evaluate this like it should be (at least for a much higher level of overall preparedness).

Consider every single thing, appliance, utility, or whatever it is that’s powered by electricity in your home and throughout your day to day living. A few major concerns come to mind, if applicable..

  • Got a well pump? What about the long term without power?
  • Do you have alternative energy? Enough of it?
  • If you have alt-energy source(s), what about EMP protection?
  • How are you going to heat your castle during the winter? This is an important priority for those living where deadly winter cold could kill you..
  • Non-electric appliance alternatives for those which you may consider necessities.
  • Think about your kitchen without electricity..

You get the picture? It can become pretty daunting to consider surviving without electricity for a long term period of time. It may be a mistake to overlook giving this some deep thought and mitigation.

Overestimating what you have for stored food, figuring that you have enough.

Maybe you do have enough! However, thinking that you have enough – could be a very big prepper mistake. Believing that you have plenty of stored food for a long, or very long term SHTF situation – could be wrong.

The fact is, each person will require about 3/4 of a million calories of food to survive for one year. That’s right, about 750,000 calories for each person, at a minimum. Got that one figured out properly?

A prepper mistake is overestimating what they have on their food storage shelves, or in their pantry, closet, stash, wherever.., with regard to the number of calories.

It’s easy to stash several weeks worth of food, or even a month or two with some more effort and space. However when you’re looking at 6 months. Or a year. Or more? And for each person in the castle..

Obviously it all depends how long you want to take it. In the context of a higher level of preparedness, that’s up to you. I like to think of it in terms of enough to get through at least a partially failed garden the following year. And that assumes you can produce enough in a self-sustaining sort of way. But that’s another topic..

Not putting enough emphasis on your personal and home security to get through a long, or very long term SHTF.

While an uncomfortable subject for some, there will likely be significant security risks during a period of SHTF collapse. Although no one will be immune or free of this, your location will greatly impact these risks.

There’s lots to consider and lots to do for your personal and home security if you want to be in a higher level of preparedness for SHTF.

I’ve written about this topic quite a number of times here on the blog. The bottom line is that we’re talking about a security situation where it’s going to be dangerous (for some more than others).

There are more potential prepper mistakes to be made. Better to think about it ahead of time. Measure twice, Cut once.

[ Read: Prepper Food Storage Mistakes To Avoid ]

[ Read: Security Concerns During Timeline Of The Rolling Societal Collapse ]


    1. Ha! Good one.. That’s another valid ‘prepper mistake’ (on the way to higher level preparedness).. mistake being not giving it serious thought, and action – before none may be available soon into a SHTF situation.

      How much? No right answer to that one. That depends, right? Like NRP likes to say, is 600 rolls of TP enough?

      1. Ken, not to put you on the spot, what’s your estimate in the general sense as you see it…..?

        1. To Realist, it’s difficult to answer your question, even in the general sense. Because in the general sense, there are varying factors that would contribute towards the rate of lessening inventory over time.

          That includes how much someone may go through inventory during their normal practice sessions. This varies A LOT! Some people really can go through quite a lot, whereas others not nearly as much.

          The extent of which you’re expecting the needs (of inventory) thereof. Population density of said location versus increased likelihood of expending more inventory during a worst case collapse situation, for example.

          The number of others within one’s group that will also need to draw from that inventory.

          Number of ‘tools’ within one’s possession, each of which may require more or less inventory, depending on the tool’s most likely uses and purposes.

          The number of times that one might expect to need said tools during the collapse period versus one’s threshold of comfort having enough inventory to feed those tools.

          So, generally speaking, is 600 rolls of TP enough? (grin)

      2. Ken, That is a tough one. I think it would take a crystal ball. In part, it will depend of on how much S. actually hits the fan…duration and severity’
        Who will be using what? Are you clearing a property or “picking off? We just don’t know. Younger, less experienced members that may be involved will need something less complicated. They will be backup…maybe…maybe not. So, it is not just a matter of amounts but whom is going to be the primary user of what? Just like many cans will need can openers, this discussion needs to include not just number of rounds, but, Vanity Fair magazines. I hate to just spell things out, with the I.R.S. carrying these days… I am such a girl…:)

    2. Rough Rider:
      How many rounds?
      Just one more K of each caliber I’m thinking.
      “Is 600 rolls really enough?”

      1. Stand, 10k that’s close for personal weapons but what about in addition for bartering as in a failed anything this will be the gold standard, along with food. I have been stacking it deep up for several decades, no kidding and it does not go bad. Secret in my book buying in bulk, you get not only better price but free shipping.

        1. Realist:
          Seems I’d be a little paranoid bartering ammo for other goods.
          Letting others know you have ammo to trade seems to me a little iffy.
          I guess if’n you do trade ammo I’d make dang sure to do where’s you have enough security for the recipient not to take everything you have. If you catch my drift.

          Guess I’m wayyyy to mistrusting when it comes to after TSHTF.

        2. Yes understand the paranoia aspect, but I suspect barter fairs will spring up in protected locations ……..but levels of trust will be established as things are needed and two individuals see the mutual benefits….I also think like the wild west you manners and actions will be more prone to the lever action, instead of legal action.👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻

        3. Realist, I am just a girl, but if I had ammo, I would not barter it, unless the person was A. My best friend, B. My Best friend. C. It was a caliber I no longer owned. I would refer to the reasons already listed as being reason enough.
          Stand My ground… X amount for limited range, but enough to get the job done without going through walls, should you have a house invasion. X amount to use in another ‘yard clearer”, X amount for every household member to carry. Lots of pinging “stuff, to keep everything automatic, where it becomes second nature. No one has mentioned mags or cleaning kits. Those who reload, will need some different stuff. Remember what they say about the need for your last round.

        1. Kula:
          Lost everything I had to that Boating accident on Navajo Lake. 😬

        2. Didn’t Brandon also say something about F-15’s? If I could only figure out where to put in a runway…..

    3. Rough Rider,

      No real answer, but in my way of thinking…a lot more than you think you will ever need x two (or three). My reasoning being an immediate depletion of availability should things go bad south suddenly…followed by years, maybe even decades before becoming available again. Your legacy to your kids and grandkids may (should) include feed for the firearms you pass down in addition to your other possessions.

      I don’t delude myself into believing I will be heroically fighting off hordes of marauders and bandits and using up thousands of rounds of ammo in the process…but I do see my descendants having need for protection and hunting equipment long after I’m gone. I would sorta like being remembered for my foresight to make sure they had it.

      1. Dennis, we do think the same, my preps are hopefully in depth and sufficient for myself…..but secondary they might be for others “down the road” because i choose to live remotely I am the lone wolf and any help I would ever hope to have will have to come to me. Almost all my contacts with ‘others’ now are people who no longer are very open or responsive to my views on prepping, so be it at my age I will deal with the situation as it unfolds……to all of us here on this site we are a family of common sense proactive people. God bless all who have him as a savior. See you sometime on the other side.

  1. Another potential prepper mistake when it comes to higher level prepping… Normalcy bias may creep in and slow down or even stop the process of becoming better prepared.

    Because “it” hasn’t happened yet, therefore things will remain this way.. (fill in the blank for SHTF “it”).

    The problem is, “it” can happen real quick. Or, it can be a creeping “it”. I believe we’re in a fairly rapid deployment of “it” as we speak.

    1. Ken, Normalcy biases are big! I think of our age and what our friends are doing, while we are killing myself. Sometimes, I do something normal, like a short two day trip. Now we are so into the garden and new chicks, we can’t even do that. I wish we could live a normal life. Some of the kids think so as well. Maybe they are afraid of what their inheritance will look like.
      Biggest mistake, was to move, when we had everything in place, to start over in an area we thought would be safer.. farther from a sketchy town. We thought we could not do it all anymore. We should have stayed put and just kept what we couldn’t use covered. I think we would have used it this year. Now, we have half as much and had to spend more.
      Our short term can good roll down, so it is easy to put the replacement of the top in the back. There are other mistakes, but I will not discuss them in front of Brandon. It is what it is and will be what it will be.
      On bartering…I would not make up cute little care packages for the neighbors with a little of this and a little of that. This screams that you saw it coming and prepared. Keep offerings and bartering primitive in nature…My two cents.

  2. OK, you wanta know the BIGGEST prepper mistake, bar none???
    Lack of OPSEC. That’s right, OPSEC (OPerational SECurity).

    How many people out there know you are a “Prepper”?

    You have children? Have they even mentioned to a friend that Mom & Dad have a lot of stuff in the house” you think kids won’t talk/brag?

    How about where you buy your 600 rolls of Toilet Paper?
    And 500# of Rice n Beans?
    Those checkout people at stores know exactly who the “Preppers” are.

    And to be honest it don’t matter if you pay with CC, check, or $. Your local store knows. Look around EVERY store has security cameras. AND they record your purchases.

    I could go to mention even the County Assessor knows how many fruit trees and the garden you got.

    So, yes Water, Food, Security, So-On are a huge problem.

    Those people that know you “Got Stuff” are your biggest problems AND mistakes in not having better OPSEC.

    But just my 2 cents worth.

    1. Spot on. In the book, ONE SECOND AFTER, the author profiled those who had prepped and what they faced from their local “friends and neighbors.” If you have school-age kids or school-age grandkids you are taking care of; remind them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS they are NOT to talk about their family situations at school or with their friends. When the balloon finally goes up, you do not want some desperate soccer mom or beta male banging on your front door for food and water. Things are headed towards an inevitable catastrophe. Read Selco’s stories. Bleib ubrig.

      1. “desperate soccer mom or beta male banging on your front door for food”
        If this has happened, you have already got that Inevitable Catastrophe in your lap and your security has failed.
        Not trying to be picky but these folks should NEVER be given that close of access to your family/homestead. This is a problem I continue to work on.

        1. Yep. I would have failed. However, with the widow next door and a beautiful Christian family with six children two doors down, I have an obligation. My wife and I have discussed this and planned for it. I also have a range card which focuses on the lines of drift-a railroad bed-about 200 yards north of our property. I have a clear field of fire across a golf course. If the trolls and orcs which inhabit Spokane can get through the patriots who live in Otis Orchards and Liberty Lake, my tribe and I are ready.

          “My wife and I have discussed this and planned for it.”
          No, you have not failed, you have addressed the issues and ‘Planed’ accordingly.
          There is a difference

      2. The series of books by “Joe Nobody” , they detail a similar line of thought with many ideas and methods in a total failed society, I was a little put off by the name until I started reading and gleaned some very relevant ideas from those books.

  3. Mine is a rookie mistake…and on the lower end of def con list, I put cornmeal in mylar bags , thinking they were rodent proof. Rat snuck in my storage building, chewed thru a whole box full on these prepared bags of meal…they loved it. prep list now includes rat traps….ha ha ha. Now I need more cornmeal, mylar bags AND some rodent proof buckets.

    1. USADR:
      I can relate to the “rodent” problem.
      I’ve have had Pack-Rats chew completely through food grade plastic buckets.
      Needless to say my storage is now devoid of entrances for “critters” of all species and size.
      And if something happens to get in, I have a few special “Hotel California’s” set up just for them 😵‍💫

    2. Rat / Mouse bait to kill.
      Buy cheap plastic storage containers. Cut hole large enough at one end for rat or mouse to get in. Buy some Jiffy Cornbread mix. Mix equal parts of mix and soda.
      Put in container and set out. Soda upsets their digestion tract and they die. hard way to go but effective and could be smelly if they die close by.

  4. I think alternative power is my weakest point, but then again ive been looking to party like its 1779

  5. My dimes worth, clean plastic empties, all sizes, for reducing storage of bulky items, to pass out care packages with items like rice, or even water, notice the illegals in the news crossing over carrying water in glass or plastic anything. We all are prone to overlooking items in the now mindset instead of the what if mindset. My parents went through 10 years of the depression and empty glass containers were considered a very desirable thing to have and reuse. Currently when I go to Walmart I pick up from the trash recycle box at the store entrance 2 or 3 bags that contain plastic sacks, I recycle them at my casa for many things e.g to get rid of dog poo and used cat litter, use them to protect items I put into storage, to dispose of oily or smelly items….the list goes on. Plastic bags are slowly disappearing from the stores, get them while you can. Save my used motor oil for chainsaw lube, money saver there for over the last 40 years. Tell us your ideas on recycling.

    1. Realist:
      “My dimes worth”
      Holy CRAPO inflation has finally hit MSB hard… lolol
      Will agree on the recycling though.
      We Americans are spoiled as all get out….. change is a coming

  6. One of our mistakes in prepping was thinking we were far enough off the beaten path to keep most people away, but now anyone can pull up google maps and almost count the chickens in their pen. The county uses satellite images to measure the littlest shed for tax calculations. Our cell phones betray every movement. Hunters and delivery people know EVERYTHING along with the weekend explorers in their side-by-sides. The solar panels and orchard are visible to all the above. No hiding from anyone anymore. We’re counting on like-minded friends and family to help quell any nefarious folk (including freeloading friends and family).

    Our biggest mistake, and an irritating ongoing issue is rotating supplies. I hate putting stuff away when I have to pull everything out and put the new products in the back. Not only food, but bathroom supplies, otc meds, garden seeds, paint, caulk, superglue, batteries, etc, etc.

  7. My beginning blunders very early in my prepping, pretty much my first two years back in the early 2000’s

    -1 just buying random things with no plan.
    -2 kept most everything in an upper level bedroom that got to near 100*F on some summer days.
    -3 that girlfriend that cost too much, yes really.
    -4 not doing better with powdered drinks/sugar, it all turned into blocks.
    -5 not saving for specific things(a plan), just buying whatever I thought I needed at the moment.(some rare times that still happens)
    -6 bothering to get my girlfriends into it, complete waste of time, both thought it was stupid and a waste of money.
    One was management at a grocery store, literally brought home what she needed every single night.
    -7 Trying to get anyone into it, nobody wanted anything to do with it but they all now know I’m into it to some degree.
    -8 not forcing myself into some minimal gardening years ago, I didn’t see a need.
    -9 wasted monies on a few (it’s so cool) g unpurchases, I dumped them and only lost a small amount.
    -10 much more recent, spending far too much on a stock of AA and AAA batteries that were supposed to last for years in storage. rayovac and acdelco.
    Many leaked, many simply somehow discharged. (many is an understatement) now it’s energizer max.
    -11 bad life choices, very relevant.

    If I could start over it would be concentrating on long term food first, with a plan on storage, items, amounts.
    I could have saved several hundred if I learned early on about buckets-mylarbags, 02 absorbers.
    Then defensive tools.
    Nobody needed to know, ever.
    Better life choices.

    lezssee if Ken needs to correct this one too : )
    Now I feel the fool telling everyone what a failure I was at this
    Still not great because I don’t rotate. cans.

    1. Horse:
      Not a fool by anymeans, it’s called being human and a learning curve.

      I know of only one (maybe lots) that have never made a mistake, Brandon, and he lies constantly so that don’t count.

      I will tell ya, that coming from parents & Grandparents that lived the Great Depression.
      Prepping comes naturally BUT ya still make HUGE mistakes at times very costly mistakes, but at least were still working on it.

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