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3 Common Mistakes Preppers Make and How To Avoid Them

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So you have this prepping thing down, right? You have plenty of supplies to weather any contingency and there isn’t much left that you haven’t purchased or thought of. You and your family have every base covered, every T crossed and your stuff doesn’t stink. Congratulations! Now, you have joined an elite group of people who have stuff. Now what?

Prepping is unique from the perspective that some people get all caught up in the initial rush of the act of prepping. They devour news and information. They study the issues and scenarios, make plans, lists and begin the path to being a more prepared person. At some point though the newness wears off. Either that or the sense of urgency doesn’t seem as strong as it once did.

When Preppers believe that they can finally sit back and relax that is when we can become complacent. If we let this go on long enough we aren’t going to be too much better than someone who hasn’t prepped at all. If you let your guard down or think you are “finished” you can make mistakes that could affect your family or your group adversely and we never want that to happen. Above most other things, we don’t want to waste the time and energy and focus you placed into prepping in the first place.

Forgetting to Rotate your supplies

Most of us acquire our food from several different routes. It is wise to have a good mix of long-term storable foods like dehydrated or freeze dried food that can last years. Then we have food that has a few years shelf life like grains or canned vegetables (just speaking in generalities here) and perhaps MRE’s and Mainstay bars to add into the mix. Lastly we have our store bought foods that you can purchase at the local grocery store and then the freezer and fridge. It is easy to see a stocked pantry and sit back with contentment about how you are preparing to feed your family. I know because I have fallen into this trap also. The food you have stored is great, but you have to rotate all of it to truly have the longest shelf-life and highest capacity for nutrition.

Foods from the grocery store are the easiest to apply this principle to, but the mechanics aren’t always the best. Any foods you purchase should be used and resupplied with the FIFO process. FIFO simply stands for First In First Out. Pretty simple and every realizes this, right?

I have found that this isn’t as simple as it sounds without either a great system or a lot of discipline. When you go to the grocery store to purchase more groceries, what do you do with your newest cans? Do you have a system to put the newest in the back and move the oldest to the front? If you are storing canned food, there are simple solutions that can be purchased or built using plans online called a rotator. The process is brilliantly simple and removes almost any thought and effort from the whole FIFO equation. You simply add your new cans to the rotator and they force the old cans out to the front. These are great if you have them, but if you don’t. you need to have a system for rotating your cans or else you might have a pantry full of bad fruit and veggies that nobody will eat or worse. A drawback is that these systems are fairly expensive.

What if you don’t have a fancy can rotating system? There are relatively inexpensive cardboard options from Can Organizer that I am going to purchase and I will write up a review on those later. Optionally, you could just have the discipline to add your cans and reshuffle the stock after every grocery trip. This takes more time, but it is free and doesn’t take up any space.

Along with this is regularly checking for stores that are expiring. I know that a lot of dates are more like guidelines, but you still don’t want to have a lot of medicine that is out of date by two years if the SHTF. Ideally, everything would be fresh so those big mega packs of vitamins and aspirin you purchased need to be rotated out with fresh supplies.

Forgetting to resupply

How many of you have taken your First Aid kit along with you on a camping trip and had to use it? This has happened to me and I was thankful I had the supplies I needed to treat minor injuries. I think the people who I treated appreciated it also, but what happens when you use supplies? They need to be resupplied.

If you are using your preps, that is great for a lot of reasons. You are prepared for contingencies first of all and gaining practice and familiarity with your provisions. Don’t make the mistake of using all of your rice and not buying anymore though. If a storm comes along and you have to use your spare propane tank, make sure you get a replacement as soon as it is feasible. If you have used your spare gas to fuel the lawnmower, go get that back up tank filled the next time you are out.

Not knowing how to use your preps

This is probably the biggest mistake we can make because it can cause us to act recklessly in the future. Let’s say you purchased a big new yacht and you took it out for its maiden voyage, would you want to know how to work the lifeboats or would you just be content that they were sitting right there on the deck? Sure having life boats is great, but if your new toy hits an iceberg in the middle of the night and you are up there trying to read the user manual when you are tired, scared, maybe its raining too, will you regret anything?

Tools are necessary I believe and they have a place in everyone’s preps. Would it be ideal if you were Bear Grylls and could just use your survival mirror to catch some twigs on fire to survive? Yes, but knowing how to use your striker or even a lighter to build a fire in the first place is important too.

A lot of us have purchased a grain mill and hundreds of pounds of hard red winter wheat, but have you ever ground that wheat into flour and cooked with it? I have and for starters I was surprised at just how long it takes and I have a pretty decent mill. Maybe I was doing this wrong, but I had to run everything though the mill a couple of times and keep adjusting the grinding stones so that the consistency of the flour was right. This may not be a life or death lesson, but I did learn more about grinding than I thought I knew going into it. The same could be said for canning. If you buy a dozen cases of Ball canning jars and lids and a big old pot, but you have never canned, you may be in for a rude awakening. We have had a couple  canning mishaps that caused us to eat more veggies than we were planning on, but it taught us invaluable lessons. Like, don’t start canning red beets in a pressure cooker at 10 at night if you plan on sleeping anytime soon.

If you have firearms but haven’t ever been to the range to become proficient with them, they may end up being worthless to you when you need them. When you really need a firearm, you want to know how it works instinctively. Can you feel if the safety is on even in pitch black darkness? Do you know how to reload or clear a jam without looking at your firearm?

I and others have called Prepping a lifestyle and I believe that if you live life by using your preps instead of just buying them and throwing them in a plastic bin under the stairs you will be better prepared for whatever comes your way.

If you have any other ideas, please let me know in the comments below.

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  • Keaton

    A lot of places that i’ve worked at use a numbered FIFO system where you write down the week number on the cans/boxes. You could use that to FIFO goods and just always use the lowest number item.

    • prepperjournal

      Great idea Keaton! Thanks for stopping by.

      Pat