Well, here we go. Last week’s column on common prepping mistakes generated a much more manageable 11 comments, as opposed to the 190+ comments on the column before that (since last week I didn’t specifically discuss marijuana, guns or amateur radio).
Thankfully I did see one suitably disparaging comment (I’m always disappointed if I don’t get at least one). This person took exception to my statement, “Buying prepper supplies on credit is a numbskull maneuver.”
His reply? “Why? If the SHTF, nobody is going to be paying the bank back any kind of money. I also cannot picture a Bank of America lawyer knocking on my door with a foreclosure notice, 30 days after an EMP attack.”
When I wrote of my disapproval of buying supplies on credit, I just knew someone would argue that point. So let me make it plain: Using this person’s argument would mean you should take all your retirement savings and blow it on a great vacation. After all, you’re going to die someday, and when you do, you won’t need any more money. Right?
Is prepping the right thing for to do for Christians? Or should we just be trusting in the Lord? Learn about that balance in “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups – “Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble.”
And it’s true, we’re all going to die and that’s certain. But unless you know the date of that unhappy event, doing the financial equivalent of Sherman’s march through Georgia is a numbskull plan. That Bank of America lawyer mentioned by the commenter might not show up 30 days after an EMP, but what if he shows up six months before?
Don’t go into debt prepping. Don’t be a numbskull.
Today, we’ll finish up on rookie mistakes made by preppers. There are a few more I could mention, but space limitations mean that I’ll save them for later. So let’s get cracking. Here are four more “don’t do’s.”
Failing to stay (or get) fit
All the prepper toys and experience in the world won’t do you much good if you’re physically incapable of taking advantage of those toys or that experience at need.
So run a little test. Imagine your favorite end-of-the-world scenario. Tell yourself that if you can get down to the grocery store parking lot five blocks away from your house, you’ll be saved…but only if you can get there on foot and in the next 10 minutes. No problem, right? Go ahead, give it a try.
Oh, but don’t forget: you’ve got to carry your bug-out bag, your baby daughter, and the guns and ammo of your choice. How’s that working for you?
Getting into reasonable shape is simply a good idea no matter what comes your way. You’ll feel better, look better, be capable of handling stress better, and be healthier to boot. And in the event of a catastrophe, the difference between life and death might be determined by the simple ability to do a single pull up…or being able to run five blocks carrying your child.
Relying too much on technology
I wrote a previous column featuring my cousin Sam that touched on this subject. In Sam’s case, it was having too much gear with too little knowledge. But in the event of a major failure, it’s just as dangerous to assume high tech equates to high-survival potential.
In one conversation I had with Sam (after being called upon to admire his solar panel array), I asked: “Hey Sam, what would happen if a jealous neighbor – you know, the ones you’ve never tried to meet – was to sit up there on that hillside with a rifle and put a round into the center of each of your panels?”
Sam answered sheepishly that his solar array would no longer work. For some people that would be very bad, but for Sam it would be catastrophic. Because you see, Sam has planned his entire post-catastrophe life on those panels and the power they might provide.
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High-tech stuff is great, but high-tech stuff is often high-maintenance. If the ability to maintain your gear is degraded or goes away completely (such as trained repair personnel or replacement parts) following a disaster, then those solar panels become nothing more than expensive sunshades.
Make sure you have low-tech alternatives in case your high-tech solutions fail.
Not having an escape plan (or three)
You’ve got the world’s greatest bug-out bag. But if it becomes necessary for you to use it, do you know where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there? And even if you do, what happens if something unforeseen occurs along your planned route? Highway 37 may be a great way to get out of Dodge, but what if it’s blocked? Do you have a workaround ready to go, or will you be spinning your wheels?
Practice your bug-out plans. Drive and/or walk your escape routes. Look for and note alternative ways to get to your destination. Apply the Rule of Three (three is two, two is one, one is none) to your actions and not just your equipment.
Thinking OpSec will protect you
OpSec is originally a Vietnam-era military abbreviation for “operational security.” You can find a good definition here. The prepper community has pretty much taken that abbreviation and twisted the original definition to mean keeping quiet about your prepping endeavors.
Well, I’m sorry to rain on anyone’s parade, but if you’ve been prepping for a while, practically everyone knows about it – particularly if you live in a rural or semi-rural location. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but you have a slightly better chance of hiding your prepper plans and activities in an urban environment than you do in a rural one, simply because you can get lost in the crowd.
Facing facts, here’s a very incomplete list of the number of people who probably know you’re a prepper:
- The friends of any friends you’ve told
- The friends of those friends
- The UPS/FedEx/post office employee who delivers all the packages that eventually end up in your hands, as well as everyone he/she knows
- The nosy neighbor with the high-powered binoculars who watched you unload your food supply/safe/water tank/camo-ed gear/etc. from your vehicle, as well as everyone he knows
- The trackhoe operator who dug your root cellar/command post/underground lair, as well as everyone he knows
- And of course, the federal government with their miles of digital storage in Utah containing all of your emails, product orders, conversations with fellow preppers and all of the replies you’ve posted to columns like this one (which means everybody else)
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m suggesting you put up a sign announcing you’re a prepper. But OpSec can be a two-edged sword. You can become so concerned about hiding your intentions that you lose community, which in the prepper game is sacrificing a queen to take a pawn.
That’s all for this week. Until next time, do some pushups, and take a long and observant walk … and get prepared.