When people first start prepping, they usually make a few mistakes. I know I did. Sometimes it’s because they get caught up in the idea of preparing and rush into it without taking time to plan and really consider what they’re preparing for.
Other times, it is simply because they don’t have enough information. If only I had known then what I know now. As Alfred Sheinwold said,
Don’t waste your time, money, and energy by repeating the same mistakes that I and so many others have already made. Instead, read this list of prepper tips I wish I’d heard before I started prepping.
21 Prepper Tips Before Start Prepping
1. Start Living Below Your Means Right Now
You don’t want to just buy all your food and supplies with a credit card. Instead, look for ways to lower your bills until you have some money left over for preps.
2. Don’t Blow All Your Money In The First Month
Preparing is something that should be done slowly and steadily. Oftentimes, there are survival items you think you need, but later you find out there’s a better deal somewhere or that you already have a suitable substitute. So try to be patient.
3. Store Plenty Of Water
Water is technically more important than food, and you’re going to go through it faster than you think. You don’t have to just buy bottled water.
You can collect your own water and store it in collapsible containers or barrels for long periods of time in your garage or basement.
4. Don’t Store Water In Old Milk Jugs
It is so tempting, and it seems like a good idea at the time, but it will end in disaster. It’s hard to wash out all the milk residue, which means you could end up with harmful bacteria growing in your water. Also, the plastic is not hardy and will eventually break down, creating a big mess.
5. Don’t Buy Food Your Family Doesn’t Eat
Finding a great deal on a case of canned spinach may seem like a great way to fill the shelves in your pantry, but if your family refuses to eat it, you will have wasted time, money, and space. It’s nice to find a great deal, but if it doesn’t fit your family, pass on it and wait for the next one.
6. Store More Than Just Canned Food
There is this idea that a food pantry must be loaded with canned foods and nothing else. You need to have a variety of canned, dry, and freeze-dried foods in order to diversify your diet.
Otherwise, you will get bored with canned food, and all that extra sodium will be bad for your health.
7. Use Sturdy Shelves For Your Storage
Those flimsy, particle board shelves may be inexpensive, but they will not hold up long when you start piling bags of beans and cases of canned goods on them. Your best option would be wire shelving. It is sturdy and can tolerate more weight.
8. Don’t Put All Your Preps In One Place
You never know when disaster will strike. Your entire food storage could be wiped out in the blink of an eye. Place some caches around the area where you live, keep a bug-out bag in every vehicle, and if possible, keep some supplies at your bug-out location.
9. There’s More To Prepping Than How Much You Store
It takes knowledge and skill as well. Here are 20 skills you might need. For each of these, you need to get training and hands-on experience.
Have a nice library of reference materials stashed away as well.
10. Don’t Forget About Hygiene and Sanitation
Stocking up on toilet paper and soap is just as important as stocking up on food and water. You have to stay clean in order to avoid becoming sick. Getting sick during a survival situation–when hospitals are either closed or overrun–could end up killing you.
11. Don’t Forget About Those With Special Needs
Some people might need insulin, glasses, medication, oxygen, wheelchairs, etc. Make the necessary preparations for them as well.
12. Don’t Forget About Your Pets
If you have pets, you have two choices: plan on feeding and caring for them or abandon them. If you care about your pets, be sure to store pet food, water, and other supplies for them.
Make the decision about what you will do with your pets today, and don’t wait until the heat of the moment when your emotions are already running high.
13. Don’t Be The Only Prepper In Your Household
Your entire family needs to be on board. They don’t have to be as excited as you, but they do need to have the knowledge and know-how. Make sure you incorporate them into your preparation as much as possible.
14. Don’t Tell Everyone About Your Preps
You don’t want to advertise what you have. If and when disaster strikes, you will have a line of people at your door, and you won’t be able to help them all. So keep your plans within the family and a select group of trusted individuals.
15. Try To Stay In Shape
Many preppers are going to find themselves completely exhausted after just one day of disaster. Hiking from place to place, carrying supplies back and forth, repairing damaged roofs or windows, etc.
All of it will wear you out fast if you’re not in shape. It’s easier to get in shape than you think. A half-hour of power walking a day will make a huge difference.
16. Don’t Assume Your Stockpile Of Guns And Ammo Will Keep You Safe
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have guns for self-defense, but you want to do your best to avoid confrontation. Learn how to be stealthy and avoid drawing attention to yourself. Your guns cannot protect you from being shot by others who have guns.
17. Have A Plan For Getting Home
Many people forget that disasters don’t wait for you to get home. They can also happen when you’re at work, school, or elsewhere. Do you have a plan for getting home or a place to meet with the rest of your family?
18. Don’t Make Assumptions About What Will Happen
Some people just assume they’ll have to bug out, while others assume they’ll be able to bug in. But you don’t know what’s going to happen.
You have to have a plan A and a plan B. Every prepper needs a backup plan.
19. Test Everything Yourself
Don’t assume your tools will work properly when you need them to. You have to try them out.
Also, don’t just store several of the same tools because if that tool ends up not working for you, you might need a different type of tool. As Graywolf Survival says, “Carry redundant capability, not redundant gear.”
20. Take Baby Steps
Some DIY projects are so big and complicated and require so much education beforehand that you really have to be patient.
If you try to get it all done in just a few days, you’re going to get frustrated and burned out. Remember, lots of baby steps will quickly add up to a very long way.
21. The End Of The World Isn’t Tomorrow
Yes, technically it could be, but odds are it isn’t. And if you always think it is, then you’re liable to panic and make bad decisions. Be prepared, but enjoy all that life has to offer.
Don’t become so focused on prepping for doomsday that you forget to enjoy what you have today. And keep in mind that doomsday might never happen.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 4, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.