Saturday, September 7, 2013

Rookie Preppers: 8 Mistakes To Avoid

Tess Pennington
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As some of you know, I’ve been prepping for a little over 3 years now. Believe me when I say that I have probably made every prepping mistake in the book. It’s time I admit to these mistakes and begin using them as a learning experiences for those of you who are beginning their preparedness efforts.

Don’t Panic

Take a deep breath, sit down and make an emergency plan. Decide what emergency you are preparing for and what supplies you will need. Try and stay within a certain emergency time frame and work your way up to larger scale emergencies. For example, begin planning for a 72-hour emergency and work your way up to a short-term emergency and later, a larger scale or long-term emergency.

Take your time and properly plan how you are going to open up your budget so that you can attain these emergency items. Cutting out the extraneous spending in your budget can free up a lot of extra cash. The money saved can be used toward your future preparedness items. Make the choice of using the new found preparedness money or save it for a more expensive prep. Either way, you will accumulate a little at a time and not break the budget.

Personal Experience – One mistake I remember (and am still paying for) was when my husband and I decided to get a short-term food supply. We hadn’t really researched what it takes to maintain your family’s health during a short-term emergency so we impulsively went out and bought $200 in canned goods. Needless to say that we are still living off of that canned good investment. Looking back, we could have used that $200 in a more constructive manner.

Don’t always believe the experts.

Listen to what the experts say, but make the decision that is best for your family and your needs. Some experts' advice is driven by what makes them the most money or what other experts are saying at the time. Make a list of what items you are looking for and research those items (include reading the customer reviews).

Personal Experience – An expert was telling everyone that they should have a certain brand of hiking boots. Well, I went out and bought them because “the expert” said I should. Because I didn’t research the boots (and the specs about the boot), after purchasing it; I made the realization that they were way too heavy for me. Luckily, I was able to return the boots and get my money back. After I researched and read customer reviews, I went out and invested in a different pair of hiking boots that were perfect for what I needed.

Don’t buy cheap preps.

Trying to save money here and there is great, but when you are investing in survival gear, you want to make sure the investment is worth the money spent. Begin looking at your purchase as an investment for your future. You want that product to last and do it’s desired function with minimal hassel. And you want to be able to depend on that product to see you through an emergency. On another note, whatever items or tools you buy, make sure you use it. If you invest money and buy an item that you do not know how to use, it’s useless.

Personal Experience – I wanted to save a few bucks and bought a basic sleeping bag that didn’t have any bells or whistles. Later on down the line, I realized the sleeping bag was way too bulky, weighed too much for a bug out situation and had no capacity to really keep someone warm. I ended up investing in an ultralight backpack that keeps me toasty when I need it the most and is feather light. Although I made a mistake with the first sleeping bag, I am using it as a back up, so the investment was not a complete loss. Other items I have found that are worth spending extra money on are good toothbrushes, survival tools, water filtration systems and survival knives.

Buy preps that are multi purpose.

You want to make the most out of your preparedness investment so do some extra research and find preparedness items that have multiple functions.

Personal Experience – I have found a lot of items that have multiple uses, so listing them would be an entire article in itself. However, here are few suggestions that would help serve a multitude of functions. Rope, for instance is a great multi-use prep. It can be used for hanging or securing emergency shelters, used as a laundry line or for hauling. Other multi-function items are a good knife, multi-tool, and emergency foods, such as salt,baking soda, and vinegar.

Buy foods you and your family normally eat.

This is one of the biggest mistakes that preppers make. You want to use the food that you store. To get the most out of your food investment, develop good storage habits. Further, it’s a good rule of thumb to purchase foods and items that will be used within their allotted time span, so check the expiration date!

Personal Experience – I came across some cans of seafood medley at my local grocery store and thought how great it would be to use it in an emergency situation. I was so excited about this canned seafood because it was high in protein and vitamins, so I ended up buying 4 cans of this stuff. After opening up 1 of the cans for a dinner … my family (and myself included) pushed our plates aside and decided to eat cereal instead. Needless to say the seafood medley was horrible. I donated the remaining cans of the seafood medley to a food bank.

Eat what you store.

In an article I wrote about storing food, I stated, “Storing food is a continual process of using, rotating and reloading. If a short-term food supply is bought, the food must be used and more food purchased to resupply the storage shelf. Thinking of the food supply as a small store where the foods in the front has the shortest expiration date and the ones in the back have the longest. The food storage area should be checked every six months to make sure that appropriate food items are rotated. ”

Personal Experience – I can’t tell you how many items I have had to throw away unopened food because I didn’t use it within its expiration date. Using and rotating your food supply takes some getting used to. Many think that the stored food is for emergencies only. And it is, but it should also be there for you when you need it. It’s your own personal convenience store. When you use an item, buy a new one at the store and replace it on your shelf.

Have back ups for your back ups.

www.OffgridOutpost.comThis is a golden rule for preppers. You never know when one of your preps will break or jam up on you. Having extra items gives you peace of mind because you are not solely dependent on one item for survival.

Personal Experience – When we were researching water filtration systems, we ended up buying a katadyn water filter (A solid investment in my opinion). However, we began thinking about the use and effectiveness of the filter after multiple uses. We decided that solely depending on one item to give up potable water was not wise. We not only bought extra filters for our katadyn, but also invested in micro-pur tablets (chlorine dioxide tablets), and chlorine granules to make sure that all areas were covered.

Get your friends and family on board.

In an emergency situation, you will need help from others. It would be unrealistic to think differently. Talking with friends and family about being prepared is a great way to awaken the need for their personal preparedness efforts and help you find more “like minded” individuals. Help guide them and give them advise on how to begin.

Personal Experience – We all have stories of people thinking we are “kooky” because we prepare for short- or long-term emergencies, and I am no different. I have learned to take others' opinions in stride, but I have talked with some family and friends who see the need to prepare and have started doing so. My largest accomplishment thus far has been helping my sister become more prepared. I have peace of mind knowing that most of my immediate family is prepared – at least for a short-term emergency.

There will be some friends and family members who are not going to be on board no matter how much you try and talk to them. There will be some who will be on board and will listen to what you have to say. Hopefully, after you share your experiences and first time mistakes, they will listen and learn from you.

What are some prepping mistakes you have made?

Contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition.

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years.

This article may be re-posted in full with attribution.


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Anonymous said...

Why don't you post where you bought some of these items? I may want to look into them and even buy them!!!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to make a comment regarding the disposal of out of date canned goods. Just because the government forces food canning companies to put expiration dates on their products doesn't mean they're unusable anymore. Canned food loses a little bit of nutritional value and taste/consistency over long term storage, but doesn't really go bad. Just be sure to rotate your food and use it up eventually and never eat any canned item, where the can is compromised or blown up like a balloon. I've been storing for years, since Y2K, actually, and have found cans that were years out of date and used them, noticing virtually no discernible loss in taste or quality. Just be careful. Smell and taste are your best guides.

Anonymous said...

HELLO...Sam's, Costco, and B.J.'s stock canned foods that expire in 2014 and 2015, and even Walmart does the same. Try any Camping World, or sporting goods store for supplies, some places like Boating world carry many things you will use in a survival situation. When the elec. goes out you need propane or a solar powered-generator to continue with the basics, even lanterns will work fine for lighting. How about wipes (like baby-wipes) for cleaning. Don't forget you outdoor bug spray for those annoying pests that bite you. Remember you pets also need care during that time. Hope this helps!!!!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the article & thanks anonymous for the heads up re canned goods and their 'sell by' dates. check out Republic Broadcasting dot org for great shows & hosts

Anonymous said...

In a old earthquake kit we had. The bottom of the cans corrode out and everything on the bottom of the trunk was pretty nasty. I stopped doing cans for that reason.

Mountain House has some good foods with a pretty long shelf life. I bought some dinners, breakfasts, and the big cans of different vegetables, and a ton of ramen noodles.

Dry goods do well also. Rice, oatmeal and beans.

Anonymous said...

Great article by the way.

Another solid investment, IMO. Get a book, with good pictures, and in your region of edible and medicinal plants.

I'm west coast, but out of all the books I bought I like this one the best. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, by Gregory L. Tilford

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