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As a “late prepper,” I am often forced to sift through conflicting recommendations. I comb through 2-3 hours per day of videos and articles as I learn how best to prepare for whatever is to come. When I see contradictory material, I seek additional perspectives to see who is right. Thankfully, prepping isn’t difficult so it doesn’t happen very often.
Occasionally, I come across recommendations that are demonstrably bad. I wish I had documented them all, but I was able to compile this short list of things that preppers should definitely avoid. I’ll accumulate other pieces of bad advice to share going forward, but here’s what we’ve seen so far…
125 ml Water Packets
This particular piece of advice came from a prepper channel that I generally admire. Everyone makes mistakes, and this was a big one.
Several companies sell mylar packs with around 125 ml of water in them as “emergency water.” While these may be useful in a bugout bag for the sole reason that they are less likely to get contaminated over several years, there’s a big problem. They’re a waste. A case of 64 of them is expensive, coming to around $28 per gallon. Considering that we need 1-2 gallons of water per day, that means someone would need several dozen of them to survive.
In a bugout bag, it may make some sense since we often pack our bags and let them sit for a long time, but if you’re checking on your bag every few months then you can rotate out bottled water which is far more economical and can last for a long time.
Create a Post-Apocalyptic Gang
I’m not sure which show this was on but a site I read referenced the “Apocalypse Gang” that had chosen to only prepare for crap hitting the fan by accumulating guns, ammo, and burly men. Their idea was they wouldn’t need to store food if they could just go around and take what they wanted from everyone else. This is, of course, a very bad idea.
However, it should act as a reminder that when society starts to collapse, there will be desperate people who will try to take what you have. Firearms, ammunition, and other self-defense resources are imperative in such a situation. It may be a bad idea to plan to rob everyone else, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for when people try to rob us.
Prepackaged Food Buckets Are All You Need
The reason people buy prepackaged food buckets with various meals in them is for convenience. I can completely understand and appreciate pushing the “easy button” because not everyone wants to or has the time to get into canning, building our own food buckets, freeze drying, or sealing food away in mylar bags. Those who want to simply set it and forget it can visit our emergency supply sponsor, who has plenty of packages available.
From a financial perspective, it makes better sense to build your own buckets. For example, Augason Farms Rice is currently selling for over $60 for a 24 lb bucket. It’s convenient and I bought a couple (granted, when I bought them they were $38 but even that is too expensive), but then I learned how easy and inexpensive it is to get my own 5 gallon buckets with lids, 5 gallon mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and bulk rice.
Many stores carry 25 lbs for $10-$15. The buckets at Home Depot are around $4-$8 with lids. Five-gallon mylar bags and oxygen absorbers can be under $5. To make what Augason Farms is currently selling for over $60 takes ten minutes and under $20.
I Don’t Need to Be Entertained
In a long-term bugging-in situation, you’ll want to be entertained, especially if power and internet are down. Most preppers recommend books, board games, playing cards, or dice among other things that can help pass the time and keep the family’s mind off something other than the approaching apocalypse. Psychological health will be challenged in a societal collapse so don’t expect to sit around and chat with the family all day, every day, as your way of coping.
My Pets Are My Backup Food Supply
There may come a time when we get so desperate, we’re forced to look to unacceptable sources for food. I don’t want to recommend it and I’m definitely not planning for it, which is why I won’t link to the story that had a chart showing how many calories you can expect to consume from mid-sized family pet.
Only Buy Long Term Food
My plan is to have bug-in food that works in stages. For the beginning when we can’t just go to the grocery store for our needs, we have what’s available in our refrigerator and some of the expiring pantry items. When those run out, we’ll move to our midterm storage items like canned foods, shelf-stable meals, and freezer items. When those are exhausted, I’ll pull out the buckets and #10 cans of freeze dried long-term storage foods.
I’ve heard on a couple of occasions that you should just store food that will last for decades. I can understand why, but it’s neither cost-effective nor practical. We will keep our long-term storage food items untouched until we have completely exhausted our more perishable food.
One brief note: the reason that I count my freezer items as midterm storage is because we have a solar generator to keep it running if the grid goes down. If we did not, I would include the freezer items with short-term storage foods because the likelihood of the grid going down seems very high in a crap-hits-the-fan situation.
Focus on Bugging Out Instead of Bugging In
It’s funny because around half of the prepper items on the market today are designed for bugging out. Since the most likely scenario for most Americans is one where economic or societal collapse puts us in a bugging in situation, I prefer to make sure I’m stocked up at home.
With that said, we should all be prepared to bug out on a moment’s notice. I have a plan for instant bug out scenarios where we only have time to grab our bags and run. I also have a plan for a quick bug out scenario where we know we’re going to have to leave in hours or even days. Do not get so attached to your bug-in fortress that you’re not willing to leave it if you have to because there are scenarios in which bugging in is simply not an option.
I generally only recommend prepping ideas when I have two or more experienced preppers validating them. If you hear something that sounds weird, double- and triple-check it. Like I said earlier, prepping isn’t hard. You just have to be cognizant of who NOT to listen to before the crap hits the fan.
Image by Nestle via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
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