Biggest Prepping Mistakes – 11 Things You’re Doing Wrong!

empty grocery store shelves

Current events have all of a sudden thrown the world into panic mode. Some justified…some not so much. One thing is for sure, a lot of the panic people are experiencing is due to a lack of preparation. As supermarkets and grocery stores were being wiped out, many folks began to realize they are not even prepared for short term disruptions in the supply chain.

This is a huge problem. Outside of incidents like a global pandemic, there are many things that can occur where having a basic philosophy of preparedness is paramount. Natural and manmade disasters are not uncommon and can have a great impact on daily lives.

Now, we have been suddenly thrown into a scenario where a lot of people are having to stay at home or will be soon. Most folks are not prepared for this, mentally or physically. For the first time, people are realizing what they don’t have or what they are missing from their supplies.

For many, the idea of preparedness, or prepping if you prefer, is a looney concept. Why would anyone need to have emergency food? I think current events are answering that question. With all of this in mind, let’s look at the biggest prepping mistakes people make.

Being Consumed by Prepping

This is a big one. However, before we get going, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I fully believe in being prepared and I believe everyone should be participating in self-reliance to the best of their ability.

With that being said, it should not consume your thoughts, your time, your life, your money, and/or anything else. Preparedness is not a response to living in fear and paranoia. It’s a physical and mental state of well-being allowing you to live life confidently and to the fullest.

Don’t make the mistake of letting preparedness and emergency consume your life. That’s not the point. It’s quite the contrary.

Not Starting

One of the things I keep hearing from folks as of late is they wish they had started sooner. Especially, now that it has become a reality for a lot of people. However, it’s never too late until it’s too late.

Instead of spending extra cash on frivolous stuff, start incrementally increasing your level of preparedness. It doesn’t take much to start adding canned food and shelf-stable items. It also doesn’t hurt to add comfort items as well. Think of things like snacks and alcohol. Don’t go crazy on alcohol and confuse comfort with self-medication.

Not Having a Plan

It’s easy to prepare for a few weeks…maybe even a month. You can do it with little to no planning. However, once you start to get out to a month and beyond, It takes a little forethought and more detailed planning.

Get a plan together and move forward. Stick to the basics like:

  • Physical Fitness
  • Financial Health
  • Self-reliance (food, water, etc.)
  • Hard skills
  • Physical resources (books, print material, etc.)
  • Preparations to bug out
  • Community

Looks at events that have occurred over the last 5 years and make a determination if you have taken the necessary steps to easily make it through those scenarios. If not, maybe it’s time to adjust some things to tighten up your plans.

Not Balancing Knowledge with Things

youtube search

There is no doubt about it, we live in a consumer-based society. Of the many downsides of this is the fact people have replaced hard skills with things. What I mean by that is, in general, we have lost a lot of the skills needed to get by in a world without technology. 

If we need to do something, we hop online and search for a YouTube video. If we want to build something, we can download blueprints or instructions on how to do it. However, what this has done has caused us to live in a world where we do not have to retain that information. We just access it on a needed basis.

A plethora of information is readily accessible at our fingertips. But what happens when it’s not? We need to have as many hard skills as possible in addition to tangible resource material. Things like guides, reference books, magazines, and print material, related to various aspects of preparedness can be invaluable. Make sure you have these items and that they are from trusted sources.

Also, in your search for knowledge, be sure you are taking legitimate training from vetted instructors. There are a lot of folks out there claiming to be experts in various disciplines. Use due diligence when you’re deciding who to spend your hard-earned money on. These types of skills are extremely valuable so you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Not Planning Hygiene

Firearms, ammunition, and food seem to get all the attention. However, hygiene is going to be a very important element that’s often overlooked. This is even true for short term events.

Recent scenarios have shown us how people react to any indication of something wrong in this system. Just take a look at how people responded with buying toilet paper.  We have a scenario where folks completely wiped out stores for no reason other than because other people were doing it.

Thanks to social media, this created even more panic and hysteria, which caused a greater surge in people trying to buy those items. This also translated into folks pretty much buying every sort of hand sanitizer, bleach-based product, or any other product used for sanitation or hygiene.

The whole point of this is to encourage you to plan ahead for hygiene. Basic items like toilet paper, soaps, toothpaste, shampoo, bleach, vinegar, ammonia, and other cleaning products, are going to be in high demand.

You don’t have to go crazy on this stuff,  but you do need to have enough on hand to make it through any sort of short-term or intermediate event. You don’t want to be out with the rest of the herd fighting over the last roll of toilet paper. 

Not Storing Water

water container

Water is another area of concern that often gets overlooked. We often take for granted and are complacent when it comes to this valuable resource. For most Americans, it is something that we readily have access to at any given time. However, if that resource is taken away we need to have plans in place to mitigate that scenario.

This is one of those areas that is extremely subjective depending on where you live, the knowledge and skills you possess, your resources, etc.  We will get into more details on this topic in a later post, but the bottom line is you need to start making provisions to have enough water to sustain you through these short-term and intermediate events.

Even looking at something like a global pandemic, what happens when the skilled workers at water treatment facilities are taken out of the equation due to sickness or having to care for family members?  

What happens if you live in an area affected by a natural disaster, a chemical spill, or something like that? If you are forced to shelter in place you need to be highly aware of your water situation. Don’t make this mistake.

Focusing Strictly on Guns and Ammo

Being hyper-focused on guns and ammunition is a common mistake as well. I get it. I love guns, shooting, training, as much as the next person. However, that can often consume our time and finances.

The reality is there are things just as important or more important than this area. You need to find a balance as with all things. 

How many guns do you need? What types of platforms are going to be the most beneficial? Do you have various weapons chambered in the same caliber? What specific weapon systems are suited for each of your family members? These are all questions you need to think about for your overall firearms and self-defense plan.

If you have solid, dependable options in each of the three categories, rifle, shotgun, and handgun, and you have a sufficient amount of ammunition for those platforms, you should probably focus on training with those weapons and then shift to the other categories of preparedness.

Not Thinking Long Term

It is usually easy to convince someone to have a couple of week’s worth of food, water, and supplies. Heck, most folks typically have that much laying around their house or in their pantry.

But, when you are in a scenario where people are panic buying and are consumed by hysteria, folks may be hard-pressed to find the resources they need to extend their provisions out past a couple of weeks.

You need to be thinking about intermediate and long-term longevity. For me, I would consider intermediate planning to fall somewhere in the 3 to 6-month range, maybe even up to a year. Anything beyond a year would be considered long-term.

If you feel confident you can get by for a couple of weeks if you have to self isolate or if you are quarantined, you should start looking at a one month plan, then a 3-month plan, and beyond.

Once you get to the point where you’re planning for intermediate to long-range events, you’re going to have to get much more detailed and strategic in what you’re buying and how you’re storing it.

It’s not as easy as just going to the grocery store and buying a couple of cases of canned food. You’re going to need to look at dietary requirements and make sure you have supplies that allow you to have a solid balance.

These are the kinds of things often overlooked by a lot of people. However, with a little planning, you can tackle these issues with confidence. More to come on this later.

Not Keeping Your Counsel

tape on lips to keep quiet

What does it mean to not keep your counsel? In a nutshell, it is when folks have loose lips and want to talk about all of the preparations they have in place.

In a civilized and normally functioning society, this is not a problem. However, when you get into a scenario that becomes desperate for a lot of people, they begin to do things they wouldn’t normally do.

This has the propensity to lead to a situation where the rule of law starts to break down. When this happens, people will begin to do desperate things. If you have made it known you have preparations in place to handle food shortages, medical emergencies, and things like that, you may have painted yourself as a target.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t share or take care of other people in times of need. But, what I am saying is you need to do it in a smart and methodical manner. Do no broadcast your preparations so anyone with devious intentions can try to take advantage of you.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an abundance of things, you need to pick and choose who you share those with based on their needs and not their desires.

Not Having Cash

When it comes to cash, it is rare for folks to carry around very much any more. It’s even rarer for anyone to have cash in a quantity more than is needed for a few days of convenience purchases.

But, cash can be an extremely important asset in an emergency. There are a lot of scenarios where digital transactions may not be able to take place or where they are considered devalued. Having cash can get you what you need easier and quicker in emergency situations.

Having a month’s worth of cash on hand for and emergency is considered a good idea. Everyone’s monthly expenses very, so this is going to be unique to you. However, you may want to add extra as a contingency for things that are going to be added on to your normal expenses during times of crisis. 

Furthermore, if you have the ability to have more cash than simply a month’s worth, you should strongly give it some consideration. However, remember you have to securely store this cash somewhere. 

Cash kept at home is going to be more vulnerable to all types of things like theft, fire, etc., and those need concerns to be accounted for. Storing it in multiple secure locations within fireproof containers would be advisable. 

This is one of those things where you need to balance good judgment with the need to have cash on hand.

Not Using What You Have

garage tools

One of the problems living in a society where everything is disposable is people are not used to really using the things they have. In general, we normally do not have to be resourceful and responsible for making things last a long time and/or using those things for alternative uses other than their intended purpose.

Most of us are surrounded by a ton of stuff in our houses and apartments that could be used for a variety of applications if we had the right attitude in how we evaluate things. 

Another problem is we have so much stuff we actually do not know what we really possess. If you find yourself in an emergency situation you need to know what you have, how it can be used, and where to find it.

A lot of times this involves getting things organized and getting rid of the junk that actually does not have a purpose. Make sure you’re organized and be resourceful with what you been given.


This article isn’t meant to beat anyone up or to discourage folks. It is actually meant to be used in a way that will prevent some trial-and-error and instill a little confidence in your current preparedness level.

The bottom line is you need to be proactive and not reactionary. Spend a little time, get a plan together, and execute. What you’re going to find is you’re going to be more organized as an individual and as a family, and better prepared for what life has to throw at you.

This is meant to create an environment where you can carry on with confidence, doing the things you enjoy with the people you love. We don’t walk with a spirit of fear because of things that might happen. We walk with confidence knowing that we have taken the necessary steps to handle life’s challenges.


With over 17 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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