Rules. The word itself makes me cringe. I have been antiauthoritarian all my life, so I bristle at the idea of rules in general. Still, as something evolves it tends to make up some rules on its journey. Prepping has been no different. There have been guidelines by which all people who call themselves “preppers” adhere.
These rules or guidelines tend to help grow a community because they define what the community is all about. My biggest problem with rules is that the world is not yes or no, nor is it black or white. Prepping is no different. There is nuance and circumstance to consider.
In this article I hope to shed some light on 5 prepping RULES that are actually myths. You will be surprised by some of these, but I will also tell you how to get these practices right, so they can benefit you again.
Dehydrated Food Storage Meals Last 25 years
Preppers put a lot of merit into their food storage and rightly so. It will take some serious amounts of food to survive a full-on collapse. Luckily for preppers there is no shortage of internet retailers selling long term dry food storage.
The questions come when we start talking about the purported 25-30-year shelf life. One thing we all can agree on is that good food is not meant to sit around for 3 decades. Of course, we aren’t depending on our survival food to be the best meal we’ve ever had, right? Still, what is this 25-year shelf life all about.
Most companies will spend the large print on this promise. What they rarely mention is that this shelf life is only attainable by keeping your food storages at temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Of course, this changes everything. Who has a climate controlled room for their food storage?
Very few preppers can store even a minimal amount of food storage at this temperature. So, your long-term food storage is not as long term as you think.
GET IT RIGHT:
To truly win at the game of food storage is to practice rotation. You must be using all that you store. Do not put a single thing on your shelf that you don’t plan on using. You can keep a stockpile, but you must also keep it moving.
Avoid the sales on items you are not going to integrate into your stockpile.
The myth is that your food storage will last for 25 years. That doesn’t mean you cannot have a years’ worth of food on hand. If you are actively eating that food and rotating it, then you will find success.
One of the cornerstones of all prepping, the bugout, is supposed to get us out of harms way in a hurry. You cannot find a prepping website that doesn’t feature an article or several about the bugout. You might be surprised to find this on the list but its true, for most preppers, the bugout is a myth.
The idea of the bugout is something that gets passed around. Of the people who have a bugout bag and read the articles, I often wonder how many have executed a bugout in just the way it would go down. Moreover, how many people have executed a bugout with the whole family?
Most preppers have not even made it as far as writing their bugout plan down. The very basics of a practice like REDOUT.
Beyond REDOUT there are things like routes that need to be considered, rally points, caches and, of course, alternate routes if you find that your initial bugout location is compromised.
The bugout is by far the most over simplified prepper rule that, for most preppers, is a myth.
GET IT RIGHT:
If you want to turn this myth into a reality you need to follow the process from start to finish. Then you need to rehearse the process. With a notebook and maps you must sit down and plot your course. Here is my quick 10 step written bugout process.
- Print 8X10 maps of your neighborhood, your town, your city and your bugout location
- Looking at the maps decide on two short distance bugouts, areas you can travel 5 miles or less to escape danger
- Now seek out two locations that are 20 miles or more away mark them on the maps
- Plot your courses on these maps to each bugout location
- Notate food, water and other resources along the way
- Notate locations to bury caches
- Notate rally points
- Place all this info into a binder
- Put your bag on this weekend and go find a spot
- Come home and start modifying your plan to deal with real world issues you find on your treks
Successful and Sustainable Foraging
I love foraging. I have field guides and I eat as much wild food as I can, when it’s easy to get. I have watched homesteaders truly take advantage of wild foods and I am always looking to them to see prepper skills in practice. The homesteaders are taking the action that most preppers are only talking about.
The studying of foraging is not the rule that is a myth. In fact, if more preppers diligently studied foraging and practiced it in their areas they would be better equipped in the wild. They would also better understand its limits.
All that said, foraging alone will never sustain you let alone your family. This is the fundamental issue with foraging. You can eat all the berries and cattails you want this week. They will not sustain you like meat or fish. More importantly these resources will be gone once you have consumed them.
Foraging is not a substitute food source it is merely a bridge between meals.
If you attempt to do more than this with wild foraged plants, you are going to starve. Be very careful about how much you depend on foraging in a survival situation. I prefer it as a peripheral task while waiting for animal or fish traps to yield protein.
GET IT RIGHT:
Foraging is a subsidy. You must treat it like such. Do not spend your entire day foraging unless you have protein traps set, meat smoked or some other method of getting better nutrition.
To get foraging right you must give it a lot of time and practice. You must read, see, handle and taste these wild foods. You need to know which ones you like and how your body reacts to them. This is crucial.
Wild foods deserve your respect and attention, but plants and seeds will never get you through the long haul. You must have skills to get yourself some protein
Preparing for Martial Law
Martial law or overbearing militant government rule is one of the most popular post-apocalyptic themes in all of prepping. The idea that post collapse our government will gather together a mighty, well-armed, well organized force to monitor all the metro areas is just not reality.
Where would this great force of fighters come from? How would a force of any size monitor some 300 million people?
We need only look at some of the most recent disasters to understand what the government and the military are truly capable of. Relief and aid would take up most of the military force across the nation. Sending the rest into neighborhoods to control the population, confiscate guns and instill curfews would be suicide.
Nationwide martial law is a myth.
GET IT RIGHT:
There will be some semblance of law struggling to stay in power. This will be true of all localities. In this event your family will be at risk. You may have individuals who have been given too much power or desperate people making decisions to keep order. Murder without justice, is what I mean.
Rather than preparing for nationwide martial law you must be prepared to gather emergency intelligence using things like police scanners, short wave radio and HD camera drones. When you get your cues and you find that the police are disbanding, it’s time to hit the road or at least head to one of those short-term bugout locations we talked about earlier.
You are no match for a gang of armed thugs. You may be a veteran, you may be highly trained, but you have a weakness that is never discussed on tactical forums. You have a family.
David Jones, a 24-year army vet, taught me about acceptable casualties one day. He explained that when a fighting force engages a target there are acceptable casualties. As a prepper you do not have any acceptable casualties.
Who is an acceptable casualty? Your wife? Little Timmy? I mean, you don’t even want to lose your brother in law.
The gang you are facing does not share the same sentiment for their men at arms. While tactical training and movement drills can prove to be helpful in a collapse scenario, you should really be moving away from conflict and keeping quiet to avoid any altercation.
If you find yourself daydreaming about your .300 blackout, body armor and gunfights, you are going about this thing all wrong. Focus on a strategy of deterring and avoiding conflict until it is totally unavoidable.
GET IT RIGHT:
You are not a warfighter. You are probably a father or mother and based on US averages you are probably out of shape. Don’t put the people you love in danger by taking unnecessary risks. Being aggressive and offensive will not end well.
Tactical training doesn’t just have to be about shooting guns and breeching homes. You should pay attention to military formations and how these groups move silently. Also, you can focus on SERE training to avoid capture and detection.
To be tactical as a family leader and a prepper focus on communication, intelligence and stealth.