Let’s face it: survival is a very complex issue. It’s not hard to start prepping, but it’s easy to make mistakes, particularly if you’re a newbie. You are obviously going to make mistakes, but that’s a good thing. It means you’re actually putting things into practice.
The following piece will help you to avoid some of these mistakes. Since talk is cheap, let’s go ahead and see what they are.
#1. Reusing canning lids
Glass jars are reusable but canning lids are not. The dents and cracks that may occur after the first use means air could make its way inside the jars and compromise the food. This is why you should always use new lids every time you do some canning, regardless of the food you’re preserving.
Also, don’t forget that these lids may be hard to find post-collapse. You might want to stock up on them now why they’re dirt-cheap, since they’ll make a good bartering item.
#2. Not taking care of medical issues before SHTF
Things like a bad back, bad knees or cavities are going to be impossible to treat post-collapse. Instead of buying yet another piece of gear, why not make treating your medical issues a priority? You’ll not only feel better but you’ll also be in a much better position to survive whatever may come.
As we age, our bodies become less and less flexible and, sometimes, we’re unaware that our stamina is not what it used to be… so starting to work out just 2-3 times a week in addition to taking care of your medical issues is critical, particularly if you’ve been sedentary over the past few years or more.
#3. Not knowing that temperature variations can affect food
It’s not just high temperatures that affect shelf life, variations are bad too. If you live in a colder climate, for instance, and you keep some of your food inside your attic, you might get low temperatures most of the time and a few warmer ones during the summer. You should definitely find some other place to keep your stockpile, such as a ventilated basement.
#4. Eating Snow
The problem with snow is, it’s really cold. Because of this, your body will spend a great deal of energy to warm it up, something you don’t really need in a survival situation. Plus, it’s going to create discomfort and even health issues. Not the kind of problems you’ll want to have in a bug out situation, where every calorie counts. If you’ve eaten snow as a kid, you remember how weird it felt.
The simple solution is to warm it up first, and use a bandana or some other piece of cloth to purify it. In general, rain water and water coming from snow are safe to drink.
#5. Not stockpiling enough water
You should always keep a balance between your food and water stockpile. The reason is, you’ll survive much less without water than without food… What good is it to have a 6 months food stockpile if you only have water for 3 weeks?
Plus, water is cheaper to get, easier to store and you can easily rotate it.
#6. Arguing over survival
We all know by now most people don’t care about prepping. Whether we like it or now, we’re in the minority.
Convincing other to prep is sometimes possible, but is it worth spending time and energy to do it? Sure, it’s good to have a group of likeminded people to talk to, of folks who can help you if things go down south… but taking someone from complete oblivion to commitment is not easy.
There are plenty of likeminded people on the internet, hanging on blogs like this one that can help out with advice or even meet with you in person if they live nearby.
#7. Focusing on bugging in
Most preppers expect to bug in in a survival situation and they may be right. After all, being out there, with no medical assistance, no law enforcement and limited supplies isn’t going to be easy, but there’s more to the story.
I think one of the reasons folks prepare to “bug in” is because it’s easier that to prep for bugging out. They can focus more on gear and stockpiling and less on survival skills.
This is exactly why you should also focus on bugging out, because learning skills is tougher, yet much needed in survival situations.
Some of the most important bugging out skills include: fitness (walking, running, hiking etc.), navigation, starting a fire keeping it going, bartering, self-defense, camping, and cooking outdoors.
#8. Stockpiling bleach
Quick disclosure: If you visit a link in this article and then you buy something, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure here.
Unscented household bleach is great for water purification, but it only has a shelf life of about 6 months. Not nearly enough for stockpiling purposes. You could rotate it every 6 months and be able to use it post-collapse, but even when SHTF, you can only use it for the next 6 months or so.
Water purification tablets, on the other hand, have a shelf life of up to 5 year, they’re cheap and lightweight. Also, a personal water filter such as the LifeStraw can purify up to 1,000 liters of water and the Sawyer Mini can purify 100 times more, that’s 100,000 liters of water (or, roughly 26,400 gallons).
So before stockpiling bleach, consider the alternatives.
#9. Buying gear they don’t need
As a newbie, the moment you realize how unprepared you are, the first impulse is to buy everything. Only problem is, once you gain some experience from articles and books, you’re very likely to realize you either got the wrong stuff, that you could have gotten it cheaper somewhere else, and so on. Heck, you might even realize you’ve been prepping for things that have a small chance of hitting you!
If you just found out about survival, I urge you to resist the temptation of buying anything for now, and instead read as much as you can. The more you know, the less mistakes you’ll make.
One of the mistakes I made as a newbie was that I bought this huge BOB backpack. BOBs should be smaller than what I had gotten so they’re easier to carry. I didn’t know that at the time, so I bought something that’s better suited for an INCH bag.
One could write a book of survival mistakes alone but I hope these will get you thinking. What are the mistakes you’ve made along the years? Don’t be shy, let us know in the comments below, so we can all learn from each-other.
Dan has come into contact with homesteading when he was 4 years old, and would spend summers in the countryside with his grandparents. The skills and the mindset that he’s learned now allow him in his mid 30s to better prepare for whatever may come.
10 thoughts on “9 Mistakes Prepping Newbies Should Avoid”
You made some good points. I’d like to remind readers to save the rings from canning jars. They are made to be reused. If you stockpile lids the seals will eventually deteriorate from oxidation. The shelf life can be extended almost indefinitely by vacuum sealing them or storing them in an airtight container that has been purged with CO2 or dry nitrogen and stored in a cool place. In this case oxygen is not your friend. Along with heat that is the major culprit that will deteriorate the sealing compound on the lids.
I read somewhere that you can use the granulated chlorine made for swimming pools to sanitize water and that it has an extremely long storage life.
Just my two cents worth………..
A cheap and stable substitute for bleach is pool shock. You want the only active ingredient to be calcium hypochlorite. Example: https://www.amazon.com/DryTec-1-1901-Hypochlorite-Chlorinating-Treatment/dp/B009S85LEA
It doesn’t have to be from Amazon, I picked up mine from Walmart. As long as it is calcium (or sodium) hypochlorite, it’s good. Keep it dry and it will last 20 years. Mix up batches of bleach as needed.
That’s the stuff I was talking about, but couldn’t remember what it was called……………………
My big mistake? Not keeping track of what I had in stock. Just yesterday I found a Get home bag that I put together AND one I bought….Both of which never made it to the vehicles….so for Christmas I got BOTH of us a premade bag that isn’t near as good as the ones I put together. Sigh. Waste of money (and not just a little bit of money, on my salary) Since I bought everything twice I am out funds I could have used to buy something I needed more of. Don’t be me. WRITE IT DOWN so you know what you have. And the corollary, PUT IT WHERE IT BELONGS, so you don’t duplicate things and waste your time and money.
A couple things here. Please pardon the length here in advance.
First, think long and hard about what is realistic for your area and for YOU. What’s actually likely to happen that you would have to respond to and how would you need to go about that? For instance, if you live in many parts of, say, Wyoming, a downed tree across a road isn’t probably something to worry about but if you live somewhere where such a thing is a high probability your use for a chainsaw is much higher on the list.
Along with this realistically consider what is possible for you. I have a guy I see daily who’s a prepper but he’s unrealistic. He’s got his “get home back” with 20lbs of gear. Great but he lives nearly 40 miles away. He’s not realistically walking home. It’s just not in the cards. He’s middle aged, overweight and doesn’t the proper gear to actually do it. In the summer it’s hot as all get out around here and in the winter it’s often life-threateningly cold. He’d have to cross places where whiteouts are common in the winter and the summer winds will dehydrate you so fast it will make your head spin. Think his porky rear is gonna make it there on 1.5L of water (with no options for resupply from natural sources) and a few Powerbars? Heck no he ain’t. Without a vehicle, or a serious plan (which he doesn’t have) he is SCREWED. You know what? So am I. I’m not porky either. I’m in darn good shape. I just know that it’s a heck of a hike through some dangerous areas (weather speaking and two legged predator speaking as well) and I live nearly as far away as he does. It’s a multi-day hike that needs to be planned out with proper stops and foreknowledge of where you can get things like water and more food, not a jaunt where some extra socks, an N95 mask and a small pack with two meals in it are going to get you though (usually).
Secondly, Cass is worried about duplication. Yes, unnecessary duplication is worthless. However, there are a great many things where the rule “two is one, one is none” holds true. Compasses, lights and knives are good examples of this. You don’t need to duplicate everything but, again, think long and hard about your REALISTIC NEEDS and duplicate where it’s a good idea. If you’ve got a piece of gear you NEED and it goes down do you have the ability to repair or replace it? You should. Know that guy that goes camping with you and ALWAYS needs to borrow stuff? Yeah, in an actual serious situation that dude is dead.
Third, (and finally so this doesn’t turn into a book) when it comes to medical conditions realize that they can’t all be fixed. Got a member of the household with diabetes? That brings up A LOT of considerations. This person will most likely need meds but they also will need to balance their food intake. Powerbars won’t work for them for long. They need a balance of protein to carbs and to balance that vs meds vs physical demands. Since you can’t “cure” this person with a few doses of some medication you need to consider their needs carefully and be prepared for them. Otherwise they’ll have troubles that will cause you more troubles if SHTF. Know the problems AND the solutions before you have to apply them.
…buying foods your family will not eat in bulk… so buy limited quanity for first purchase of any items not usually eaten. No need in buying 10 lbs of brown rice if the family won’t eat it/ or it would go rancid beefore ti could be rotated out.
Do buy cans of food you already eat in quanities to use for rotation and monthly use.. end of month see what used, replace those… assess what was used and if anything needs to be replaced with a different selection…and buy another selection of foods to add to the stockpile. Date cans..in some system to keep a first in first out on all items.
…another mistake… Buying foods that you can prepare premade. Make your own jerky, can your own beans. You will save a small fortune.
This is a very insightful post. I will take note of these tips. Thanks for sharing!
For the posters who had a 40 mile hike to get home. Consider a folding bike. In an EOTW situation plan on making 10 as the crow flies miles per day. You may walk more than that, but in that situation, you probably will not be able to go directly from point A to point B. In that case, it will take you at least 4 days to cover a 40 mile direct distance. That distance is doable in two days on a bicycle. Folding bikes have become quite popular and come down in price fairly dramatically. If I had a long commute a folding bike and spare tubes, tire pump, patches, wrenches, flat fix and my bike shorts would all be in my car along with my get home bag at all times. A folding bike will easily fit in the trunk of your car. Sure, it’s not the bike to take on a club ride with a bunch of hammerheads, but it sure is a lot faster and easier than shank’s mare for getting home. Ask your local bike shop how you can prepare your tires to withstand more road debris. Do not ask the clerk in the chain store.
Hi, could you tell me how much bleach to use to clean a 3 gallon glass container?
Also, what would the amount and procedure for a 1 gallon pitcher?
Thanks for the information
Ive been canning for over 40 years and have reused canning lids for jams and items with high sugar content. During the Depression many times people didn’t have lids and resorted to using wax as a sealant for jams, and jellies AND reused lids. With high sugar content items , you might get a little mold on the very top, if the lid doesn’t seal but it doesn’t hurt you. When I was a kid, We would remove the wax on the jar and sometimes there was a little discoloration or mold, but we dug that out and all the jam underneath was fine.
Also in Europe people save their jars with POP up lids (ones that make a pop sound when opened like tomato sauce jars, jam jars etc. They reuse the lids too. I have been doing this technique for jams, jellies, chutney, and apple sauce; when occasionally one of the jars doesn’t seal we use that bottle first and store it in the fridge. THE ONLY TIME I don’t reuse a lid is with meats and anything that is susceptible to botulism.
Also, we bought chlorine pellets for pools and have it as an emergency supply.
The Life Straw has a family model as well.