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Top Ten Common Prepper Mistakes To Avoid

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In this article, I’m going to cover some of the more common prepper mistakes I’ve seen over the years. By understanding mistakes made by others, we’re better armed to avoid those prepper mistakes.

As always, this post is to inspire action and trigger a discussion. In other words, it’s just my opinion here. 🙂

Left Field Already 😉
Skippable“Trigger” doesn’t have to be bad, that’s just the way it’s being used today. Hey, what famous actor rode a horse named Trigger way back? I’ll leave the answer at the bottom of the post for the youngsters LOL. 😉

Biggest Prepper Mistake – Not Having A Solid Preparedness Plan

image - Biggest Prepper Mistake - Not Having A Solid Preparedness Plan

Right at the top of the list is a plan. Most people that have dug themselves out of debt understand the importance of creating a budget and sticking to it. The same is true for a plan to become more prepared and self-reliant.

When it comes to something as important as keeping our families safe, we don’t want to just shoot from the hip. We want clear preparedness goals listed by priority for our own personal skills, location, and situations.

Here’s a post I’m sure will help you understand and develop your own preparedness plan: Building YOUR Realistic Preparedness Action Plan

You can actually avoid many of the common prepper mistakes below just by having a solid preparedness plan of action.

Buying The Wrong Gear And Supplies

Common Prepper Mistake - Buying The Wrong Gear And Supplies

This is probably one of the most common and hard-to-avoid prepper mistakes. There’s SO much cool stuff, and those YouTube videos – wow.

I had accumulated so much gear over the years that I gave my youngest son (In his mid-thirties) two large packs filled with everything imaginable.

I even created a post on some of the items I regretted buying, but there was so much more. Survival Gear I Didn’t Need And Shouldn’t Have Bought – A Couple Of Real Examples

Not Training With Or Using Our Preps

Image - Prepper Mistake - Not Training And Using Our Preps

Just this morning, I posted a quick prepper tip video to Instagram about using our preps. Not only do we want to like the food we store, but we also want to know how to cook it and store it.

I just started a new series on this site called Off-Grid Cooking From The Pantry. There I’ll cook meals straight from our pantry using off-grid cooking methods.

Major Prepper Mistake – Not Knowing Your Gear

Don’t wait for an emergency to figure things out.

Gear And Tools – I know a prepper that bought a pressure canner years ago and never learned to use it. I offered to teach her, but she just couldn’t bring herself to use it. That’s a shame because canning can put prepping into overdrive.

I’ve seen videos on YouTube where people share the gear in their bugout bags, load-outs, get-home bags, etc, and everything is clean and unused. Sometimes the gear is still in the original packaging.

My advice: Break into your gear like a child on Christmas morning. The last thing you want to do in the middle of an emergency is try to figure out how to use the gear you need to survive.

Keep in mind, depending on the emergency. You may not have the ability to find a “how-to” video on YouTube. You could find yourself in a panic situation that could have easily been avoided.

Not Taking Advantage Of Local Resources

Image - Narcan Kit

The covid has temporarily squashed many of the events here in Michigan, but there’s a wealth of local resources available. I bet you have many local resources in your area as well, unless you’re really isolated.

Meetup often has meetups on foraging, hunting, fishing, camping, canning, Ham radio, etc.

In fact, I just noticed a local Family Emergency Readiness Expo going on in a couple of weeks. This is the largest preparedness expo in Michigan, and it’s free. I’m just 50 miles away, and I’m going!

For the last two years, I took a local Narcan class (First aid for opioid overdose) given by our county. After the class, we’re given a NARCAN® nasal spray kit.

Over the years, I’ve taken classes on CPR training from the American Red Cross, a Heartsaver® first aid course from the American Heart Association, hunter safety, home/self-defense, and draw & live fire from a local gun range.

In fact, we have a local gun range that offers a red dot class, low-light/night shooting, ff-hand & alternate shooting positions, surviving CPL / stop the bleed, FLP legal seminar, moving & shooting, draw, and fire (I took this one), home defense shotgun, (I took this one too), AR-15 classes and even gun cleaning class.

Friendly farms and orchards are often willing to help. Just ask.

Don’t forget online training and resources.

Resources aren’t only classes. Local meat and vegetables aren’t only a healthier alternative. Those relationships can pay off later if food gets scarce. Don’t forget local eggs, too, if you don’t have your own hens.

Not Teaching Our Family & Friends

Add A How-To Guide To Your Emergency Binder

I’ve been guilty of this one on multiple levels. I believe many preppers like me tend to think we need to do it all.

The problem with us doing everything and not showing others what we do is. Obviously, they’re going to be in a bind when you’re not available.

Some things can be addressed with simple instructions followed by a quick guide. For example, starting a generator. It occurred to me that my wife may need to start and use the generator when I’m not there.

I took her into the garage and went through the steps of starting and using it.

  • Checking the oil and gas.
  • Which gas to use, and where it goes.
  • Setting the choke and opening the gas flow valve.
  • Setting the throttle and using the electric start.
  • How to pull start the generator if the battery fails.
  • Where to run the generator.
  • Where the extension cords are and how to use them.
  • On and on…

See how complicated something like that can be to someone that has never used it?

I knew without a doubt she would not remember everything six months down the road when she needed it. So I created a quick guide and added it to our preparedness binder.

The biggest way to teach is to get everyone on board and active in the day-to-day prepping activities. For example, how many people in your home know how to:

  • Use the pressure or water bath canners?
  • Use the dehydrator?
  • Re-seal a vacuum-packed jar?
  • Use mylar bags. Or even open a five-gallon pail?
  • Apply a tourniquet or pressure bandage?
  • Fill the car with stored fuel?
  • How to maintain the devices with your solar setup?
  • Etc, etc., etc.

Planning For The Wrong SHTF Events? A Risky Prepper Mistake

Image - Bunker

My buddy Mic brought this up in our latest live prepper panel video – many preppers tend to get tunnel vision and focus on a single SHTF event. Fear can be motivation, but it can also send us off in the wrong direction.

We hear it all the time, a prepper stating what they’re preparing for. I wonder who told everyone we were limited to a single SHTF event to prepare for?

You hear, “I’m preparing for a financial collapse,” “I’m prepping for an EMP,” or “I’m prepared for an active shooter.” All that’s fine and dandy, but in my opinion, it’s best to prepare for the more likely events that will disrupt your way of life and happiness.

It’s best to prepare for the more likely events and will disrupt our way of life and happiness.

Soon to be famous quote by Brian D. Hawkins

Related Article New Preppers and Fear-Addiction – Mic-Roland.com

Panicked And Getting Overwhelmed – One Of The Hidden Prepper Mistakes

Image - Panicked And Getting Overwhelmed

The news and many on social media are experts on selling fear. Fear sells. The end-of-the-world scenarios are a dime a dozen and are almost always a massive exaggeration at best. Not all prepper mistakes are apparent.

I devoured this book – Hate Inc. Why Today’s Media Makes Us Dispise One Another.

If you cover everything like there’s no tomorrow, what happens when there is, in fact, a tomorrow?

Matt Taibbi, Hate Inc. (Paperback, page xiv)

We must pay attention and learn to recognize nonsense when we hear it. Don’t fall victim to another person’s prepper mistakes or, worse, their agenda.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does this story sound legit?
  • Can I verify this story with at least a couple of legitimate resources?
  • Is this likely to affect my life?
  • Is there anything I can do about it?

Actual world-ending events beyond our control are a waste of time if everyone’s going to die anyway. Right? Do you want to be one of the 16 people that survived an extinction-level event like a comet impact?

Another issue overwhelmed preppers often experience is panic buying.

For example, during a discussion on a prepper email group, I’m a member of, someone mentioned having pre-cut plywood and studs to cover their windows.

I believe they already had the wood, but the last month would have been about the worst time to buy lumber. Panic buying lumber would have been an expensive experience.

Not Paying Attention To Current Events

This is something my buddy Todd Sepulveda talks a lot about – ignoring the news and events because it’s too stressful or tedious or whatever.

We can’t dodge a crisis if we don’t see it coming. It’s very easy to miss important issues today, with the alternative electronic distractions available.

When we spend most of our time listening to Audible, podcasts, and music apps like Pandora or iTunes, it’s easy to miss out on the latest news and current events.

I bet this is a pretty common prepper mistake since so many of us are addicted to podcasts and audiobooks.

The solution to that is setting up alerts on the types of things we want to stay ahead of or setting a particular time of the day to scan the news – even as disgusting as the media is right now.

Not Being Ready To Pivot

Image - Can't Pivot

Proper planning and preparation, as vital as they are, do not guarantee any level of success in any situation.

The universe doesn’t care about our plans. We need to be agile and ready to pivot as needed.


Here’s an example of being ready to pivot:

The stuff hits the fan, but it doesn’t matter because the power went out. It looks like you have enough fuel to run the generator for a few weeks if you’re very conservative.

After day two, your generator decides it’s done. It’s broken, and there’s no way to get it repaired until things improve.

No worries, you can use your car and inverter to keep your fridge and freezer cold – for a while.

You’ll pivot and use candles for light, and you will start canning thawed meat before your inverter decides it wants to go belly up too.

Our plans must be flexible because life never sticks to a plan.

Very Common Prepper Mistake – Not Taking Action

Image - My Backyard Garden
My Backyard Garden

Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote, “Overthinking causes a delay in action. Analysis paralysis” in Building YOUR Realistic Preparedness Action Plan.

Overthinking is not the only challenge we may face that causes a delay in action. Fear and just feeling overwhelmed can keep us in the danger zone as well.

Take tiny steps with a clear objective in mind at first. Each step will boost confidence as well as the desire to do more.

For example, let’s say you want a six months supply of food, water, and supplies. That is a task that took me years to obtain. That is an overwhelming goal if you’re just getting started.

Start with a two-week supply. Once you have that two weeks of preps, you can double it. You did it once. You can do it again. You see where we’re going here. We’ll have that goal met without much trouble if it’s a top priority.

Excuses are the other action killer. My Prepper Pantry video has over a thousand comments on YouTube, and thankfully, only a few of those are excuses. “I don’t have room for a pantry“, “I’m on a tight budget“, or “My husband/wife isn’t on board.”

Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.

―Edward R. Murrow

Wrapping Up Top Ten Common Prepper Mistakes To Avoid

Preppers are people, too, so we could go on for days on common prepper mistakes.

The thing is, if we go on talking about prepper mistakes for days, we ain’t taking action. That’s one of the biggest prepper mistakes.

Call To Action / Next Step

Avoid many of these prepper mistakes by creating your Preparedness Action Plan right now.

Stay safe. Stay prepared.
Hawkins Out.

Click here to see who rode Trigger?
Roy Rogers rode a horse named Trigger in many movies and his TV show in the early 1930s to the early 1950s.

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Brian Hawkins

Father, grandfather, Veteran, animal lover, law-abiding taxpayer, homeowner, trucker, and a United States Citizen. Oh, and I'm also a prepper, survivalist, responsible gun owner, and hiker.

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