I’m a skeptic of just about everything. My wife will tell you I was born disgruntled and contrary, so when I hear certain pieces of prepper advice, again and again, I can’t help but question it. In no particular order, here are 5 pieces of overrated prepper advice that drive me crazy.
- Stock up on lots and lots of wheat. Okay, we did that and then realized that our family eats very little bread and we feel a lot healthier on lower-carb diets. My wife buys one loaf of Ezekiel bread (tastes like sandpaper to me, but she likes it), keeps it in the freezer, and it lasts for 3-4 weeks. Here I am, sitting with 10 5-gallon buckets of wheat, almost ready to open a commercial bakery, because that was “the prepper thing to do” when we first started out. Yes, if there is ever a total economic collapse or EMP attack, we will eventually make it through that wheat, but in the meantime, it takes up a lot of space in my food storage pantry. Preppers who have since discovered they or someone in the family is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease could have spent that money on something else. Stocking up on a lot of wheat? Totally overrated advice.
- Focus on preparing for worst-case scenarios. Some time ago I received an email from a woman asking, “How do I prepare for when we don’t have electricity anymore?” Huh? I think someone has been reading too much prepper fiction. Yes, an EMP attack could take out the power grid for quite some time, but focusing on that as a prepper is short-sighted. I mean, people with this point of view aren’t interested when I recommend something like rechargeable batteries (this set can be charged using any USB charger) because they’re convinced we will shortly be living in the stone age, so why bother. “The end is near” — yeah, probably not. You’re a whole lot more likely to get stranded by the side of the road, flooded by a massive rainstorm or hurricane, or have to shelter in place for one reason or another. Get fully prepped for those, first, before you follow this particular piece of prepper advice.
- Stock up on “survival food”. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s scammers, and there are plenty to be found in the prepper/survival niche. They prey on people’s fears. My wife’s aunt is one example. Somehow, she got on the mailing list of a well-known “survival food” site and began receiving emails that terrified her. Naturally, she began forwarding them to us asking, “What should I do??” The text and videos in the emails were designed to scare her into spending thousands of dollars on so-called survival food — freeze-dried meals in pouches. Now, I’m not against this type of food and we have a bit in our pantry, but the truth is, freeze-dried meals are usually not the very best type of food to store. These meals have their place, but you are limited to those specific recipes — spaghetti with meat sauce, turkey tetrazzini, mashed potatoes. You’d better love those foods more than life itself because you’ll be eating the same things meal after meal after meal.
- Better get a bug out location or you’ll die. This one really kills me because in reality, a “bug out location” is a second home. If you’ve ever owned a lake house, a cabin, or another second home, you know it can be a real financial burden. You first have to buy the house/property, make payments, get insurance, furnish the house, pay certain utilities even when you aren’t there, worry about vandalism and other property crimes, and, as a prepper, equip the house and property with everything from stored food and water to medical supplies, fuel, self- and home defense, and so much more. It’s just not practical and for many people, not even desirable. Now, the pro bug-out-location people are going to say, “You’re not supposed to just visit your BOL, you’re supposed to live there.” Well, again, if it’s that easy, most preppers would do it. The truth is, most of these armchair survivalist warrior types work regular 9 to 5 jobs like you and me, and very few of those jobs are possible from some remote BOL. Better advice? Have a number of “safe houses” in mind, varying from 5 or 10 miles away to 100 miles or so. These could be homes of relatives/friends or familiar campsites. Just anywhere you could head to if you really do need to evacuate your home for a few days. After Hurricane Harvey hit, people living in flooded 2-story homes simply moved everything upstairs during the mucking-out and rebuilding so their kids could continue with school and they could continue with their jobs. Their BOL was right under their noses, so to speak.
- Read prepper fiction to get some really good prepper advice. Here’s yet another overrated piece of advice because what tends to happen is that people read these books and then take them as gospel truth. Try to convince a die-hard fan of One Second After that most vehicles will continue to run just fine after an EMP and that airplanes won’t fall out of the sky. William Forstchen wrote a compelling book that tugged on their emotions so everything he wrote must be true. There are millions of variables at work in the scenario portrayed in One Second After, and many experts agree that, perhaps, just 30% or so of vehicles would be fully disabled with the others experiencing no effects at all or just needing a quick turn of the key to restart. All prepper fiction comes from the imagination of authors who are only human. They do their research, some more than others, but their main purpose isn’t to provide training but entertainment. Entertainment equals sales, which is very smart on their part. Enjoy prepper fiction but before you stake your life on any particular piece of advice, weigh it against information from experts and your own common sense and experience.
Is there any prepper advice that has rubbed you the wrong way? You know everyone believes it, authors and bloggers pass it on like it’s truth with a capital T, but you aren’t so sure it’s 100% reliable and something everyone should follow without question. What’s on your list of overrated prepper advice?