Man reading a survival kit list

Let’s start by acknowledging you are probably more prepared than most Americans.

As a reader of this blog, you understand preparedness means a lot more than having a weather radio or emergency kit stored in the garage.

However, even the best of preppers make mistakes – and end up paying dearly for them when disaster strikes.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 prepping mistakes in hopes that you can learn from others before it’s too late.

1. Stocking Up on Emergency Food You Don’t Like

One of the most common prepping mistakes we see is stocking up on long-term emergency food you – and your family – don’t like.

People tend to think any food is better than no food, which is true. But if you have time to prepare, you might as well purchase emergency food your family will actually enjoy eating.

Pro Tip – Instead of purchasing a one-year food supply right away, start smaller, so you can try some of the emergency food out to see what you prefer.

2. Buying a Survival Kit and Thinking You’re Prepared

Another common mistake is purchasing a pre-assembled kit and assuming you’re fully prepared.

This couldn’t be further from the truth!

First of all, many of these kits are designed for only a specific number of days. And, if you purchase the kit and immediately put it away, you run the risk of not knowing how to use everything in the kit.

One time I opened one of these assembled kits only to discover some of the supplies, such as a light-up whistle, required batteries, which were not included.

When you purchase an emergency kit, make sure to familiarize yourself with all the contents.

3. Focusing Solely on Supplies and Gear

Being prepared for an emergency means a lot more than simply having emergency supplies.

Do you know how to use these supplies? Have you thought about everything you will need beyond the cool gear – such as first aid supplies and medicine?

What about emergency preparedness skills? Do you know how to build a fire or create a shelter? Do you know how to perform basic first aid?

Focus on developing your skills just as much as you focus on stocking your shelves.

4. Keeping Your Family out of It

Emergency preparedness should involve the whole family. If you are the only one who knows where supplies are kept or what to do in the event of an emergency, that’s a big problem when disaster strikes.

Instead, involve the entire family in your emergency plan – even your kids. You should also work together as a family to develop skills.

Man holding cell phone up high trying to get service.

5. Believing You Won’t Need Books

Even some of the wisest preppers depend on electronic resources to get information. But what if the grid goes down? How will you find the information you need to survive?

Building a physical library of survival books, such as medical guides and plant books, will prove especially helpful if you find yourself bugging out without electricity.

6. Only Preparing for Apocalyptic Scenarios

Shows like Doomsday Preppers highlight men and women who are only prepping for apocalyptic scenarios.

Sure, we want to prepare for the worst case scenario, but realistically, we should be just as prepared (or even more prepared) for natural disasters.

While you may have tools to fight zombies, you also need supplies for surviving a flood or fire.

7. Forgetting about Important Documents

People tend to focus more on acquiring new things that they forget about the important things they already have, such as birth certificates and wills.

These items need to be safely stored in a fireproof, waterproof box. Ideally, you want a box with a handle so you can grab it and go.

8. Neglecting Comfort Items

As mentioned in #1, people sometimes think any emergency food is better than no food.

Sure, this is true, but comfort goes a long way in disaster situations.

As you stock up on long-term emergency food, don’t forget about comfort food (such as coffee), spices to make meals tasty, and personal items.

When stocking your emergency supplies, try to think of the items that would be really hard to live without but aren’t necessarily necessities, such as card games, blankets, and photos.

Sad dog sitting on the street

9. Overlooking Pets

Your pet will be affected by a natural disaster or emergency just like you. That’s why it is critical to keep your pets in mind when stocking up on emergency supplies.

Make sure you store food and water for your pets and keep track of their veterinarian records.

10. Thinking in Terms of One Season

A mistake many preppers make is thinking of only one particulate season when packing supplies.

For example, many Northerners are taught to always keep extra clothes in their trunk in case they get stuck in winter weather.

This is excellent advice. The problem is that people often forget to change out clothing based on where they travel or the season.

Winter clothing won’t do much good if you find yourself stranded in a sweltering summer.

When stocking up on emergency supplies, make sure you consider the climates of different seasons.

11. Packing Bags and Bins Too Heavy

Sometimes people go a little crazy with their stockpile and pack way too much in their bug-out bags.

The weight makes it difficult to lift, let alone carry and run. This same thing happens when stocking food and water indoors.

For example, if you only have a big barrel of water, you will find it extremely difficult to move due to its weight should you need to.

Spread your supplies out and test their weight.

12. Storing Items in One Easy to Find Space

Should SHTF, people will be desperate to find survival food and gear. If others know you have it, they will head right to your door.

If they know where it is stored and it is all stored in the same place (aka your basement), they will wipe you out. Desperate people take desperate measures.

Instead, store your emergency supplies in various places, such as your pantry, a go bag, your car, and under your bed.

Woman standing in front of empty pantry shelves.

13. Spending Too Much on Gear and Not Enough on Food

Let’s be honest. There is a lot of really cool, really expensive emergency gear on the market.

It is very easy to get caught up in the “must-have” feelings some of these ultimate emergency tools cause.

But, if you spend your allotted emergency budget on fancy gear and not on the most important supplies, like food and water, you’ve got a problem.

Likewise, don’t buy lower-quality emergency food that won’t last or taste good just so you can spend big bucks on gear.

Prioritize your most important needs first. Then, go crazy with gear.

[Related Read: 5 Emergency Supply Upgrades You Need in 2022]

14. Not Familiarizing Yourself with Supplies

Whether you order gear for yourself or receive some as a gift, it is important to familiarize yourself with it.

In an emergency, you may not have time to learn how to operate a device or discover you don’t have the necessary additional equipment for it to work properly.

Take your supplies out, try them out, get comfortable with how to use them, and then put them in a safe place.

15. Failing to Remember What You Already Have

The last prepping mistake on our list is forgetting what you already have and buying items you already own.

This is especially true if you are creating a large stockpile.

Most people don’t have the funds to buy an entire emergency supply at one time. Instead, they buy here and there, and it eventually adds up to a nice stash.

Avoid re-buying things by keeping a running inventory of what you own.

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