The 11 Cardinal Sins of Prepping – Mistakes to Avoid

This is an updated post on Prepping Mistakes to Avoid. Our first post was published in 2016, and we will continue to update as we learn (hopefully not the hard way!) new mistakes to avoid.

As with many things in life, there are pitfalls on the way to becoming a true prepper- ready to be in control in any situation regardless of the emergency. While we notice many preppers are guilty of at least one of the cardinal sins below, (ourselves included!) we all can continuously strive to improve ourselves to make ourselves stronger and better prepared. Avoiding these prepping mistakes will make you much more prepared in the long run.

Identifying our weak areas and working to improve them is a lesson in itself, so take a look below and see if any of these cardinal sins apply.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


Prepping Mistake #1: Over Sharing

Sharing too much on social media about your prepping lifestyle can backfire easily. Check your privacy setting on all social media accounts if you have them. Make sure you are not geotagging photos that you post online.

Do not post about daily routines or when you will be away from home- many home intruders are people you have met before. Be careful where you talk and who you talk with about your prepping plans and equipment in person as well. People are often listening and watching, both in-person and online, so be vigilant.


Prepping Mistake #2: Not Using FIFO Storage Techniques

FIFO stands for “First In, First Out”, a method of storing supplies so the earlier items stored get used earlier. This prevents expiration and provides a better command of inventory. An inventory list, like prepping mistake #5 talks about below, can help with this technique to ‘cycle’ through your inventory.


Prepping Mistake #3: Focusing on Stuff Rather than Skills

While tools and gear are great, learned skills are where true preppers can excel in emergency scenarios and even everyday life. Learning the basics, including creating fire, tying knots, and self-defense not only allow you to be resourceful during emergencies but each and every day.

The list of learnable skills that apply to prepping is huge, and you should consider learning all of them. It doesn’t even have to be that hard, here are a few skills you can pick up from the comfort of your couch: 9 Survival Skills You Can Learn Sitting on Your Couch.


Prepping Mistake #4: Not Knowing How to Use Gear

Buying gear and survival tools and never making time to learn how to use them can be a severe handicap in a SHTF scenario. While all gear is important to know how to use, it is especially important to be trained and knowledgeable on first aid and self-defense equipment.

It can become dangerous if you are using this equipment without proper training and understanding.


Prepping Mistake #5: Not Keeping an Inventory of Supplies

An inventory of supplies is crucial to know exactly what you have and any expiration dates your supplies may have. This prevents you from storing expired food, having duplicate items, or having missed crucial parts of your kits. An inventory of your supplies allows you to easily critique your supply cache and gear and allows you to share with trusted preppers for critique as well as to get new ideas.


Prepping Mistake #6: Not Identifying Your Risks

Many preppers begin prepping without having completed risk analysis. Knowing the probabilities and educating ourselves on the high-risk scenarios before concentrating on the low-risk scenarios can make us ‘balanced’ preppers.

While some risks cannot be imagined, being a well-rounded prepper makes you resourceful for unknown scenarios as well. Think you know all your risks? Test yourself with our comprehensive TrueRisk Analysis.


Prepping Mistake #7: Limiting Your Options

Bug out or bug in? Be prepared for both. Many concentrate too hard on one area, limiting their options when the time comes to decide which to choose. Having a ‘tacticool’ bug-out bag, but not even having 72-hour disaster supplies for your family is a large misappropriation of resources. Besides the flawed risk assessment used in that situation, the inability to bug in could be disastrous.

Cover your bases by:

  1. Creating a basic preparedness plan
  2. Having a bug-in survival kit
  3. Having a bug-out-bag

Prepping Mistake #8: Underestimating People

Whether a threat or an asset, other people are usually present during a disaster or emergency. Prepping is not a game of solitaire; you will encounter people and need to interact with them. Do not underestimate people’s generosity, greed, or irrationality.

You may encounter people willing to help you, hurt you, or who have no idea what they are doing. It is in your best interest to identify which category they fall into as quickly as possible.


Prepping Mistake #9: Armchair Prepping

All the magazines, blogs, websites, and printed guides cannot prepare you for disasters and emergencies. While these are great tools for staying educated, action is necessary to prepare and hone your resourcefulness.

Practice your plans and use your gear- they are not relics to be kept in a case. Don’t get us wrong, picking up a copy of a prepping book or magazine and keeping up to date is great, just be sure that is not all you are doing.


Prepping Mistake #10: Not Dispersing Assets

If you keep all of your preps in a single room in your house, and that specific room becomes unavailable to you during an emergency – what then? Dispersal of assets is not a new concept- the military uses this technique to minimize loss when attacks or emergencies are expected.

It follows the old “don’t keep your eggs in one basket” phrase- you don’t want a single weak point where an attack or emergency can render your gear useless. You can find out more about resource dispersal in our write-up: 3 Ways to Use Resource Dispersal to Improve Your Chances when SHTF


Prepping Mistake #11: Stubbornness

While being solidly confident is great for a prepper, crossing the line into stubbornness can be dangerous. Being set in your ways can be dangerous in an ever-changing world where there are always new skills to learn.

Staying informed, being open to changes and new ideas, and being adaptable is all very important for survival. This is the mother of all prepping mistakes to avoid- don’t let your arrogance be your downfall.


The Final Word

Avoid these pitfalls on your prepping journey and you’ll be much better off for it. If you haven’t started prepping yet, then what are you waiting for? Get started prepping now. If you don’t know why you should be prepping, we have you covered as well: Why You Should Prepare for Emergencies. Here are a few other good reads you may be interested in:

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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The 11 Cardinal Sins of Prepping

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer by day, but a prepper 24/7. I am an Air Force veteran that developed emergency and disaster plans as an emergency manager and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters worldwide. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

3 thoughts on “The 11 Cardinal Sins of Prepping – Mistakes to Avoid

  • You also need to not believe that “ALL ___________ PEOPLE ARE ROBBERS AND RAPISTS”. Or that “___________ PEOPLE ARE SPREADERS OF DISEASES”. A majority of American donors are not WHITE people. Plasma collection centers pay people to donate their plasma.
    Some preppers are slightly paranoid about telling anyone that they are preppers. You need to practice the GREY person Concept. Be careful about what you put in your trash. Do not leave boxes that once had expensive stuff in it by your curb. If you buy special clothes; do not wear them until absolutely necessary.

    Reply
  • I have always kept a year plus supplies around but it’s been getting crazier and crazier here in the USA over the last 3 years.
    I have been pumping up my supplies for extended survival over the last year and even being careful it’s an expensive proposition to be able to live on my own if things go to hell. I’m getting pretty close though to being able to provide enough food continuously for a very long time as long as one doesn’t get sick of chicken.
    The preserving of everything I can grow along with being able to also grow my own food for chickens and be able to propagate, butcher and preserve them is within my grasp. My problem with it is I am pretty well dependent on being able to can everything. I have enough propane to be able to accomplish this for around 10 years but the one weakness is the stinking canning lids. I do have enough for about 6 to 8 years though so still collecting them.
    The one thing I’m really weak on is consistent water supply and I’m preparing as if there is no power or gas what so ever.

    Do you guys know if there is a hand pump that could go over an existing well that’s 90 feet deep to pump water.
    I have a 1 horse motor on my well I’m going to purchase a generator as soon as I can and have things reworked to be able to provide water to fill jugs and storage containers but that’s not going to be an indefinite source because of gas usage.

    Love your sight guys there’s copious amounts of information it’s really opened my eyes. Thank you for your work and sharing. Guy

    Reply
    • Looks like there are a few hand pumps that go up to 300 feet, but we’re not familiar enough with the different models to suggest one. FJ is our resident well guy and he’s out of pocket getting his new place set up (and getting a deeper well drilled!)

      Glad we’ve done a small part to help you get closer to self-sufficiency!

      Reply

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