Editor’s note: if you enjoy this article, check out Doc Montana discussing this same topic in much more depth on The Survival Cache Podcast; find it here: Seven Deadly Prepper Sins
Recycling cans is good. But recycling faulty intel is bad. Yet so much of the general prepping information floating around includes recycled information based more on wishful thinking and popular fiction than on science and historical lessons.
By Doc Montana, contributing author to SHTFblog and Survival Cache
Common sense has its limits. Sitting in a comfy chair designing your post apocalyptic survival strategy can be entertaining, but play your scenario out further with all the grit of a real SHTF and you will quickly see that many prepper plans might be little more than lipstick on a pig. So here are my 7 Deadly Prepper Sins based on my observations while hanging out next to the recycling bin to see what people toss into it.
- SEARCHING OUT OTHERS WITH LIKE MINDS. Everyone can disagree about something. Spouses who have pledged their lives to each other still snap and growl over the smallest things. Even tight families blow up at each other over the holidays. So why would you want to shack up with or bug out with a bunch of people that you don’t plan on being able to disagree with? My point exactly. You should stock up on smart people, talented people, skilled people, strong people. Avoid those “yes men” who you think share the same values, purpose, and identity as you. Instead, you should be ready to make a community work with diverse ideas, skills, honest disagreements, and dare I say, democracy. But if you need a dictatorship of like minds to survive, then I’d give it a 50/50 chance of ending well for you and your clan without the likely intervention of competing clans. Under constant stress, I’d give a compound of like minds ten percent or less chance.
- HAVE PLENTY OF ITEMS FOR BARTER. I hear this all the time and cannot believe it’s still a thing. So much so that I’ve met preppers who have easily crossed the line from prepping to hoarding. Barter is fine when things are good, but barter at any other time is just asking to be robbed or worse. Now I’m not against bartering, but Doc Montana’s rule for Barter is simple: My skills for your stuff. Or my skills for your skills. Once your own stuff enters the barter equation, you are on the losing end of the deal. Unless you are trading with a truly virtuous person, you will be considered a minor soft obstacle between your stuff and what someone else wants. And those truly virtuous will unfortunately be weeded out quickly by the black evil that will populate the WROL landscape.
- THERE WILL BE A NEW CURRENCY OF BULLETS OR SILVER COINS OR…. The simple brick wall that a new currency will hit is in the unknown quantity. The paycheck-to-paycheck prepper sees the small picture. But those with real assets will need to move wealth around in more than scrap gold or pre-1965 dimes. All hard assets will rapidly exceed the value to small pseudo-currency items. If we are to maintain an economy of scalable resources like housing, land, and employment, then there will be a need for large-scale asset movement. And boxes of .22 shells won’t cut it. Further, for a currency to work, it must have an agreed upon value that transfers between people. Paying a million dollars for a painting does not mean you have a million dollars of collateral. It just means in your personal economic sphere, you chose a painting over the liquid asset of a million dollars. It also means you now have a piece of colorful canvas that requires care and feeding if it is to reamass any value when we emerge from darkness. But until then, the currency of the future is limited to the need and imagination between any two parties at that specific moment in time. And as we’ve seen even today, people will trade anything to save a loved one’s life. And I’d argue that it’s impossible to negotiate fairly when one of the parties has an empty belly.
- STOCKPILE FOODS YOU ARE USED TO EATING. Recycled wisdom will have you believe that you should store food that you eat regularly. That way your digestive system and taste buds will be fine with eating on the run. This Bug Out Mistake is doubly bad. First, bug out food should be chosen on an entirely different nutrition philosophy than daily food. In fact, it is roughly the opposite. Your daily food intake should be a balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates with a preference towards the freshest foods closest to their natural state. In other words not processed. Bug out food, on the other hand, is highly processed with a long shelf life, high in sodium, preservatives, and far from fresh. And if your current daily diet mimics bug out food, well then you likely have some dietary issues that will cause you more serious problems whether you need to bug out or not. Just sample your prepping food to know what you’re in for.
- COUNTING ON ONLY NINE MEALS FROM ANARCHY. The concept here is that civil society will only remain so as long as bellies are full. And after three days of no food, it will be game-on WROL. In reality, the WROL alarm clock will go off long before the pangs of hunger drive our reactions. More likely the flow of information or lack there of will push society over the edge. An EMP would cause near instant reaction, and not in a good way. The first unchallenged looting will signal the end of civility. And using recent history as a model, depending on the situation, it could be three days, three hours, or even three minutes to anarchy. So read the signs and jump the gun.
ENDING YOUR PREPS WITH THREE WAYS TO MAKE A FIRE. The mistake here is not in the number of ways to start a fire, nor in the selection of choices, but rather in the outright lack of ways to maintain a fire. Campfires are hungry beasts. Even a small fire requires pounds of fuel per hour. A cooking fire even more. So the focus on fire starting at the expense of continuous firewood processing is an oversight that can be deadly in more ways than one. The initial tinder of a fire is small and fast burning, but a mature campfire requires a supply of larger fuel that will only burn as efficiently as the wood is processed. Dragging a downed tree across the fire is hardly a smart play for controlling a bug out fire. So have on hand big tools including an axe, a bow saw, a hatchet. In fact add a splitting maul, splitting wedge, and sledge hammer if you are truly serious. Don’t forget the gloves!
- BELIEVING YOU ARE PREPARED. A common theme that runs through prepper-oriented advertising, and in fact the very word prepper, is the belief that you can be prepared. In reality, “prepping” is nothing but a continuum or spectrum of possible situations for which you have potential solutions. Of course you should work towards preparedness, but the deadly sin here is to reach a point of contentment where you now believe you have the means and skills necessary to survive your predicted scenarios. But here’s the catch: things on planet earth are actually quite good right now. If you’ve invested money, time, energy, and loads of thought into a project, it is easy to let that project drive your future decisions. Patiently waiting for a collapse, or hoping for a little economic or civil shakeup so you can go into active prepper mode is not only dangerous, but also unpatriotic. It means you have given up on the great American experiment. Any downfall might get your prepper juices flowing, but it will traumatize and terrorize children who are the next generation of leaders of this great country. Stockpiled preps should never be a comfortable excuse to burn down institutions that America built over centuries. Like a 250 year old tree, once you cut it down, the landscape is forever changed, and it will never be as good as it was. At least not for another few centuries. So prep with goodness in your heart, not darkness in your future.
While there is plenty of room for debate here with these 7 Deadly Prepper Sins, all seven are based in reality. Whether science, psychology, history or economics, we humans have amassed a great wealth of knowledge and personal predictability. Therefore imagining anything to the contrary is pure fiction simply because there is little evidence to support the recycled intel, and ample evidence to discount it. Oh, and stay tuned for my 7 Deadly Bug Out Sins.