In the Beginning There Were Mistakes … and I Made Most of Them

DSC_0726       Today is Confession Day for me. If there are any mistakes common to all new preppers made on this journey I probably made all of them.

  •      The first and biggest one was to not spend a bit more time de-cluttering the house first before trying to bring in lots of new things to be stored. I’m not a hoarder but I do love my collections so have more and not less about the place. Because I have always enjoyed the vintage farmhouse look even here in Florida, I have my collections. With a husband from Italy, we enjoy espresso so I ended up collecting espresso pots by accident. I also love all the old kitchen goodies and have favorite green glassware and even old Ball canning jars. You get the idea — collections that take up space. I have learned now to use much of these collections to aid in storage instead of being part of the problem. But less clutter in the beginning would have made it all easier and neater!
  •      Another common mistake is to not buy what your family or group normally eats. That 900 lbs. of wheat or 400 lbs. of rice or 1,000 MREs all sealed for 25 years shelf life may seem like a good idea until you go to actually eat it. Have you tried cooking any of it before? Store what you can cook and what everyone will eat. Later as you add longer shelf life items, add them to the diet so everyone is used to them.
  •      Put your stores in small useable quantities. Having a couple hundred pounds in one large mylar bag means that you will have to use it up relatively quickly once opened. This would be logical only if you were feeding an army. Instead consider repackaging any bulk purchases into more manageable amounts. This helps to eliminate possible spoilage or contamination by insects and/or rodents.
  •      Organize right from the beginning. At least start a basic inventory and rotation system. Boy, did I make myself a mess on this one. I now have 15 cans of condensed milk I did not rotate, keep track of dates on, or even turn over every couple months because I lost track of them.
  •    Think about where you will keep any longer term items. Here in Florida most food items will be kept inside rather than in attics or garages due to flucuations in temperature. You want to keep wherever you keep the constant temperature at safer levels. Garages up north will freeze if not insulated.
  •     Put where you can find items and get at them easily enough to actually use. Once or twice during power outages here we couldn’t find flashlights without tripping over furniture. Not being able to find matches to even light candles didn’t help either. Maybe you live in an earthquake prone region. Remember to have sturdy shoes handy in case of danger. Same with that flashlight.
  •      Speaking of that flashlight, remember the batteries. Dead or missing batteries will not be helpful. I have managed this fiasco myself especially when it involves rechargable batteries I didn’t remember to recharge. While you’re at it, make sure radios and other such equipment are even in workable condition. Older batteries left in an appliance can leak and corrode making an item non-useable. This leads to the next common mistake.
  •  Make sure you know how to actually use anything you buy. Also make sure you follow any safety procedures too. Having a generator that you can’t start or burn up the first time you do will not leave you prepared for anything. Even a propane cook stove or grill has a learning curve associated with it. Practice and know your equipment and how to use it. This goes double for the next common mistake.
  • If you choose to invest in knives, swords, guns, weapons of any type, don’t do so without taking lessons and safety courses. I am not a weapons expert but I know enough to realize I don’t know how to use them properly or safely. Weapons of any type in the hands of the inexperienced can very well be turned against you even if you haven’t first hurt yourself or worse! For those who do choose to store weapons, obey all laws in safe handling and storage. Keep out of the reach of children — lock up to prevent thieves too. Take safety classes and practice proper usage at gun ranges. Then consider how to store all necessary supplies to go along with your purchases including but not limited to repair and replenish equipment.
  • Buy the best equipment and supplies your budget allows. Buying cheap will make you feel prepared but may give you a shock when you go to use any of it. Cheap equipment breaks easily — how will you repair or replace in an emergency? Cheap food may spoil rapidly or worse yet taste horrid. That bargain soap may smell disgusting.
  • Think location, location, location. Many preppers want a “Bug Out Location” (BOL) but if you buy one, will you be able to get there in a reasonable and safe, timely manner? What type of BOV (Bug Out Vehicle) will you use? Maybe like our family, you can’t afford a secondary location. Consider your present one carefully. Moving to a new place isn’t always possible either due to family or financial constraints. Think instead of what you need to do to this one to make it better for your family prepping. Research if your present location allows you  to have chickens for example. Maybe your HOA restricts this even if the local ordinances do not. Be informed. Some communities will try to discourage you even if the law allows it. Know your rights ahead of time. Collecting rainwater in some places is against the law. How deep you can drill for a well is often regulated also. You will find that even gardens are falling under some legislation now and zoning regulations. Be informed and have the homework done if you need to defend yourself!
  • Make yourself lists. Determine what your family needs and wants depending on the type of preparing you want to do.Certainly stocking 3 days worth of food and water is practical no matter what. But then are you preparing for a power grid failure – or maybe you think we face certain economic collapse. Are you concerned over terrorist attacks or a pandemic? In any event make a list of what you would need to meet the threat you are worried over. Perhaps you like ourselves are considering being generally prepared as the best scenario. Consider also how many you need to prep for and who they are. This will lead to an important suggestion for today.
  • This is a biggie and I’ve made it too! Be careful who knows what about your preps. Telling someone casually you plan to start prepping may seem harmless but it isn’t. First people will naturally ask you questions and then voice opinions you probably don’t want to deal with. It can become an ugly political hot potato depending on what your reasons for prepping are. Most of the people around me know I raise chickens and rabbits. They may even know I believe in storing extra food. Yet I also believe it is important to not let everyone know everything about what I do or have. Even though I post here and on other forums, no one will ever know totally everything about me. Some may suspect I have a lot more — and they could also be very wrong in making those assumptions. As I have said before, I am not one who is a fan of tin foil conspiracies and I do not advocate violence so many assumptions would be foolish to jump to about me. But the reality is that people do make those assumptions so you want to be circumspect about what you do or do not do. As my son often jests, “Hey I don’t have to prep. When stuff happens, I’m coming here for your stuff!” Sadly that is truth for many others! So remember many of those will be happy to come to your house too!
  • While organizing and researching, make notebooks. You will come across more information at times than you can handle. That’s okay. Simply save it for another day so you can study in leisure. Buy books when you can afford to. E-Books are great — I have a ton too but hard copies are good for referring to when working on a project. Watch for them at garage sales and flea markets — there can be some great bargains!
  • Last but certainly not least is the suggestion to not stress, don’t become overwhelmed by all of this. Have fun with it. Make this into family projects and fun nights. No, I am not referring to emergency drills on the front lawn in hazard suits and gas masks! But building our chicken coop and watching the chicks grow has been fun for all of us from the grandchildren to the great grandparents! Our learning curves on gardens also have been fun. As we go about all of this it has given us time to listen to the older generation recount stories of how it used to be for their families. We have learned so much from them in the process. Stick to the budget for your family so that you avoid stress of making more debt. The goal is to be more self-sustaining and prepared. Don’t become someone who needs a bailout!
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