10 Things That Preppers Get Right

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Everyone likes to read about someone else’s mistakes so that they can learn from them.  When you think about it, that is a great way to avoid common pitfalls and to save yourself some of the grief and set-backs that are bound to occur along the road to preparedness.

As useful as that might be, I started giving some thought not to the mistakes that Preppers make but to the things that they get right.  And there are a lot of them.

Today I share with you my take on ten things that Preppers get right.  I list them in no particular order although I tend to think the first and last might be the most important.

10 Things Preppers Get Right 2

10 Traits of the Successful Prepper

1.  Have the Will to Live

Prepper’s approach long term survival with gusto.  As busy as they might be with job and family obligations, they are laser focused on insuring that they will be safe for the long term.  They want to live and want to enjoy the bounty of life itself.  To that end, they are prepared to endure hardships and are prepared to defend what is theirs.  They want to live, no matter what, and want to be a productive member of society.

2.  Thirst for Knowledge

There is always something new to learn and to keep the Preppers brain engaged.  There is never a time when they say “enough”.  As difficult as it may be at times to grasp the truth, Preppers seek knowledge and truth and relentlessly pursue just one more skill and one more fact that will help them prevail if their world goes to heck.

3.  Believe in Family Values

The family as a social unit is important – whether it is a family of two or a family of twenty.  Preppers know that and embrace and protect the family unit because it provides a sense of belonging is well as an environment for honesty and respect.  However the family unit is defined (and each of us may define “family” in different terms), the core ideals remain the same: responsibility, accountability and love.

4.  Possess the MacGyver Instinct

Every Prepper is a handyman.  We fix stuff.  We make things work by cobbling together odd bits and pieces into something newly purposed.  We throw away nothing, lest it have some useful purpose down the road.  We strive to jerry-rig our way out of just about anything sometimes with only some paracord and duct tape.  The words “I can’t make it work” do not exist in the Prepper’s vocabulary.

5.  Have Compassion for Others

Wikipedia defines compassion as “the emotion that we feel in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help”. The so-called survivalists of old were stereotyped as loners.  These days, most Preppers understand the value of being around others and feel a strong emotional connection to helping those that are unable to help themselves.

This is not to say that we as a group are a bunch of bleeding hearts that will give away our hard-earned preps to anyone who comes asking.  Quite the contrary.  What it does mean is that we show compassion for those that are disabled, elderly, ill or simply lack the financial means to do more than a modicum of preparations.  From these individuals we will seek knowledge and skills rather than physical possessions.

6.  Stay Physically and Mentally Fit

To stay on top of the game, we must be able to move around freely and in an unencumbered manner.  This means we must get regular exercise now so that we will be physically fit if we ever have to face an evacuation of bug-out situation.  We must also stay nimble of mind so that rational decisions can be made quickly under the most adverse of circumstances.

Most Prepper’s know this and work toward a goal of physical and mental fitness each and every day of their lives.

7.  Are Critical Thinkers

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. For some this comes naturally, but for most, this is an acquired skill that is honed by the thoughtful examination of risks and rewards before coming to a logical and decisive solution to a problem.  By considering various catastrophic scenarios in advance, Prepper’s make plans for dealing with the risks most inherent to their geographical location and personal circumstances.

8.  Know How to Drive a Hard Bargain

With very few exceptions, the Preppers I know live within the confines of a budget.  In addition to funding their daily life and daily activities, they must fund the acquisition of supplies, outdoor gear, water storage facilities and extra food.  They do this by shopping for bargains, searching for used items at thrift stores and garage sales, and by trading those items they no longer need for items they do.

They practice the skill of bartering services for goods and goods for services.  By doing so, they are able to acquire what they need not only for now, but for long term survival.

9.  Understand the Value of Networking

Preppers understand that not everyone knows everything and not everyone has every single skill they will need to prevail.  For that reason, they surround themselves with other forward thinking and like minded individuals.  Some of these individuals may be local and others may only be accessible virtually over the internet.

Regardless of where they are located, the vast majority of Preppers seek others in a respectful and open-minded manner.  They know that when the going gets tough, they will have someone to share with and together they will watch each other’s backs.

10.  Have Faith

Having faith and having optimism go hand in hand.  Whether that faith is tied to organized religion or not, it is there none the less.  Coupled with the will to live, having faith is what keeps us going.  It allows us to put one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward, one baby step at a time.  Some will pray while others will quietly reflect in their own manner.

Faith is important and most if not all Prepper’s have faith.

The Final Word

It took me awhile to come up with this list.  I pondered the top traits of the Preppers I know while taking a quiet hike along the trails near where I live.  I thought about the hundreds if not thousands of emails I have received these past few years and boiled down the experiences that have been shared with me into these ten things that Preppers simply get right.

Chances are that you possess a majority of these traits.  In fact, you may claim ownership of these traits and not even know it.  Today I would like to challenge you to look at this list and to evaluate your own top Prepper traits.  Celebrate those that you have and work on those that may need work.  At the end of the day, if the world goes to heck, you will find that having these traits will allow you to prevail if not in comfort, than in safety.

I invite you to share any traits I may have missed in the comments area below.  And blessings to all of you in your pursuit of preparedness.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin: Remember this rule of thumb: first purchase what you need to get by and later, as budget allows, add the extra items that will enhance and add dimension and depth to your existing survival gear.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, Hemp Peppermint: Dr. Bronner’s fans are almost like a cult. I have given the peppermint soap a thorough test in my own home and now consider it a favorite. Same thing with Sal Suds – perhaps even more so.

Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, Quikclot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.

Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage: This is another inexpensive, yet critical item for your first aid kit. Combat medics, trauma doctors, and emergency responders all recommend this Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) for the treatment of gunshot wounds, puncture wounds, deep cuts, and other traumatic hemorrhagic injuries.

Solo Stove_21Solo Stove: Emergency Survival Stove: The Solo Stove is perfect for cooking beans and rice using just a pot, some water and biomass as fuel. A step up is the EcoZoom Versa. Remember when I spoke of redundancy? I have both plus a Volcano II collapsible stove. I suppose you could say that going hungry is not high on my to do list.

Chemical Light Sticks: Pick your size (length) and pick your color. Just be aware that if color does not matter, some colors are cheaper than others. Be sure to read Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting.

Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards: This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out. Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness panty.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite The Sunday Survival Buzz   Volume 22: Don’t let the $20 price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price. Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant. I can not recommend these enough.

Ticket To Ride: I love love love this game.  It is a bit pricey but still, it is less than a dinner out for two at a modest restaurant.

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10 Things That Preppers Get Right — 35 Comments

  1. “Have compassion for others” BS, others will kill you for your shoes and when it comes to water and food, they will do worst. People will be on their own and it is dog against dog. I will kill to stay alive.

    • i agree with you.I’ve heard that people used small children as a ruse to get people to open their doors after katrina.they were then attacked.Soldiers in viet nam were often blow up by children with grenades If it ever ges to a SHTF situation and im in full on defense mode child or adult will be warned”get off the property or be shot”.That said an orphaned child might get some compassion in the form of granola bars and bottled water.I will decide on a case by case basis

    • Three wet noodles for me? Maybe, maybe not. I need to ponder your remarks a bit – thanks for the reminder that if the SHTF, all will not be rosy and compassion may have to go by the wayside in a dog eat dog world.

      • no i think it comes down to personal beliefs and abilities.I’m on a very limited budget so I’m barely able to store preps for me and my wife .If you have the ability to spare more for others thats great.I think it comes down to a case by case basis

  2. I have spoken to my wife about the compassion issue also. Richard is mostly correct, although I wish he wasn’t. We have family & close friends that does nothing for prepparedness. I don’t discuss it anymore, nor what we have done. I can’t prep for everyone, although I know I will need to help my family & others that are very close. However, we will all need to make decisions about people we do not know. You can’t take in and care for everyone, but we can’t live alone either. You may need to just give a jug of water and send them on their way that you might meet later in life. Or, the very worst may happen and you will need to kill to keep your loved ones alive. I have gone over this in my head so often. Societies have collapsed in the past and we are not immune to it in the USA.

    I think that Preppers have the ability to asses and think of different possibilities & know how to act when the time comes. Most will make good choices, because we have gone over different scenarios before.

    • decisions will have to be made about family and friends too. if they have not listened? if they ignore what you might have warned them about? if they are willfully ignorant and deliberately blind? then those are also the ones that would be turned away from my door.

      i have all i can do to prepare, stock up, save or hoard for myself and my family. i simply can not do that for 3 or 4 families. especially for those who would not listen or those who brushed me off.

      also if you help out someone or another family?? there is that onerous thing of word of mouth. family #1 feels really bad for family #2 and tells them that you will help. yeah, ok you help them out with food and/or supplies. hey, look here comes family #3 who also heard about your generosity and they need help. where do you draw the line? and what happens when you draw that line? what are those people going to do??? are they simply going to say, “oh ok, no problem we will just simply go away”. nope, they are going to get angry, maybe angry enough to come after you, yours and what you have!!! they are not going to care one bit that they are putting your family in jeopardy.

  3. Compassion ends when shtf. I’ve talked, taught, given free canned food, and prayed. Still my friends refuse to listen. I lost a few when they stated that if the shtf they were coming to my house. I told them they’d just get shot. I prepare for me and my family. I have no money for you, but they had plenty of money. One was a nurse practitioner and her husband a doctor. Their idea of prepping was make me their slave. Not gonna happen.

    • i can well understand what you are talking about! i’ve spoken to a few about being prepared and they have thought and given voice that i’m buying into all the hype and fear. even asking them about tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and fires, just natural everyday things that can happen? they still think i’m out in left field.
      but like you? if shtf and they decide, ” hey lets go to echo’s house, she can help us.” ummmm, NO. echo is not going to help. if they push it and try to force the issue they will be met with armed resistance.
      i would have been more than glad to help in the beginning when first talking to them, but not after it happens.
      i pretty much don’t discuss any of it any more. or if i do? it’s still in generalities as in “natural disasters”.

  4. I would one thing preppers do is have the courage to look at this, face it, and make a plan. I taught a class for caregivers in emergency preparedness. (It is their continuing ed, so they had to come.) I can’t tell you how many said to me, “I don’t want to talk about this or even think about this.” Really?! I was very surprised how many didn’t want to even talk about it.
    I keep an extra large bag of rice to give to those who may not be prepared. I would help people, and yet, I do have to look out for our large family that includes three little ones. The babies here have to come first. I recently traded some long term-food storage supplies that I had bought with a friend (who has limited income but has wanted to have some storage) for an extra generator she had inherited. It was a win/win for both of us. I care about her, and it was disturbing to me that she had nothing. I will replace what I gave her with supplies for myself. Her husband doesn’t see the need, so now she has it and traded something for it.

    • Gayle – What you have described is the compassion that I feel and I know, from my emails, that others do too. We must use our heads and our brains when doling out assistance. Any trade, even one that is not balanced, is a good trade. Goods for services works well, too.

      The situation that gets to me is the spouse or partner who has no tolerance for prepping yet loads up on every other type of insurance imaginable. Or who spends thousands at the mall or vacations or on dinners out but complains they can not afford the most basic of preps. No compassion there from me.

    • before shtf its diffrent theres room for compassion and even more room for teaching.pretty much anything can be replaced now but in griddown when the stores are empty?. I currently feed stray cats it seems with each passing day more cats show up,so does the food bill.Imagine if it was people

      • and not to mention that it would enforce the mindset that says, “see i knew someone would help, so why should i have any need to prepare”. and in the end that person would be just a hanger on. a mooch without purpose.

        people whose only thoughts are to drift along only thinking about today or until this weekend are part of the problem we find in today’s civilization world wide. why in heavens name would “they” have to bother with all that “stuff” if it’s only handed to them in the end anyway?

  5. Compassion- I will try to help those that I can without jeopardizing my family. I will treat the injured and give aid if I can. I will protect my family from those who mean them harm, with deadly force if I have to. But I will do everything I can to be compassionate.

    If good people don’t help each other, what are we trying to live for? I am not talking about the lazy, thieving, bullying idiots that want to take my stuff and harm my family. I’m talking about the people that truly are decent, hard working, good people that just weren’t ready or don’t know what to do.

    I have stores set aside for my family. Food, medical supplies, weapons and some bartering items. We are proficient with our weapons and I can handle most of the medical/trauma needs. We can survive for a few months on what we have and I can hunt or forage after that. But to what end?

    To live as only an animal, without hope of a better life for my children, is not a life worthy of living.

    Without compassion for others, the future seems bleak.

    Guarded compassion, cautious compassion, skeptical compassion. But compassion.

  6. i am all for compassion, giving aid, helping out, sharing and caring. but……..

    when it comes down to shtf and any of those that i have tried to talk to that have brushed it all off. those who have buried their heads in the sand. those who are willfully blind, deny the possibility, ignore or laugh, make jokes or ridicule because ” i have prepared “? NO, they will find none of the above items at my door. they will be told sorry but i can’t spare that now. i prepared for me and mine. i didn’t prepare for you and your family.

    those who do think ahead, who plan and prepare if only because they worry about “natural disasters”? those are the ones that i will help, befriend and possibly join with.

  7. Excellent article, Gaye. I’m going to bookmark it and, with your permission, link it to another forum I frequent [ TSP ]. The comments bother me, though. I wonder how much is on-line bluster, and how many folks could actually look into the eyes of a hungry child and say “NO”. I, for one, could not and I don’t think I’d care to associate with anyone who would.


    • if it were a child? yes i would give the child help and or food. but not the adult who refused to believe or listen. i would even take the child in but not the adult. so i guess maybe that would make me someone who would be not worthy or socializing with? at the time of that shtf? i don’t honestly think anyone is going to be doing much socializing.

      oh? why would the fact that it would make me an outcast? because i would be willing to help the child but not the ? adult ? caregiver who may or may not be the child’s mother or father. so possibly in the end making that child an orphan. it come back to the fact that my family and anyone with me simply have to come first. it doesn’t and can’t work both ways. you can’t help everyone who did not prepare at the cost of your own groups safety or lives. not unless you have unlimited supplies.

  8. Although a good discussion and VERY important. I too weighed in on the subject along with adding a trait. Has anyone actually thought about what Gaye asked in her last sentence? It says “I invite you to share any traits that I may have missed”

    • traits # 1the will to survive
      #2 thirst for knowledge
      #7 are critical thinkers
      #9 networkers
      we have touched on all of these while having this discussion and depending on certain points of view compassion .I’d say thats pretty good as for adding traits i gave a link for education classes

  9. traits that preppers have in common?

    willingness: because we are willing to have our eyes open and our heads out of the sand.

    organizational: can’t get much better than being ‘willing’ to look a head, ‘organize and work to stock up on’ supplies for a uncertain future.

    co operative and sharing: we do cooperate in the sharing of what knowledge we have.

    understanding: i kinda think that this is an important one. we must all understand that at some time we very well could be called up to make that decision on compassion.

  10. You can get the Mr. Beams 3 Pack in white for $47. I believe these are the same as the Dorcy. You are right-these are great lights! I’m hoping that the rechargeable D (only 1.2 V) will work OK. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Michael – I just checked them out and if I understand correctly, they are 140 lumens whereas the Dorcy one 120 lumens. I also saw a 3 pack of Mr. Beams 300 lumen floods for $89.99 and am going to order a set so I can compare them (and share on BDS, of course.)

      Thanks for the tip.

  11. I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not be able to help people during any of the worst case disaster situations in regard to things like food and water. As I see it the one or two families who have prepped in any neighborhood can not possibly supply the needs of all the other in lets say, a grid down event. That’s why I am being compassionate now by informing people about what they need to know now. I have given away lots of water storage containers and long run time flashlights to co-workers over the years (they do not know where I live) as well as lots of information. The intended message is that if this person who I really do not know all that well is willing to part with things that cost money then maybe this prepping thing is really important. I recently was laid off from my day time job but I still have my part time job in retail. Retail is not the kind of work you plan to do. It is not anyone’s dream job. It is sort of what you do because you have to. These are the people who will be hit hard in a disaster. Prepping is probably not on their radar in any way shape or form. At least people with good jibs and money can decide not to prep. For people living pay check to pay check, the decision not to prep is probably a foregone conclusion. I think this issue of motivating people who have no interest and little resources to prep is really the next big issue for preppers. Are we winning? I have done due diligence to prep over the years. . I have greatly increased my chances of survival in every disaster situation. Great. When the big one hits I will me my own little oasis in a sea of death and suffering. I am prepared for that but for now I need to take the window of opportunity to help people now. The reality of the possibility of an EMP event / Solar storm has gone main stream in the media and hopefully soon will be common knowledge. The why to prep is out there. We have the lessons from Sandy, Katrina and now Colorado. We just need to push and also be willing to part with a few dollars. I could go on and on but here is one example of what I am all about where I did what was needed to be done and then maximized my efforts:


    Thank you for another great article Gaye.

  12. I have read through the comments and only want to say this. I have prepped for myself – I am single. I feel that I can handle 6-8 months on my own with what I have stored. That being said, I am now in a position that I can store to give. I have decided to create packs that I will be able to give away (and if not given away, use myself) that will include meals, water, cards – whatever I see that a family could use. I have bottles filled with rice, oats and other dry goods that a family can cook for several meals. I am also including basic instructions for the use of the packs. I know I cannot feed everyone and do not intend to but I will use what I can spare for those in need. My preference for dispersing these packs would be at a central location.

    These packs are good for 2-3 days of basic meals, water for small families – a woman and a couple of kids, small family of 3-4.

    • thats very nice if i could afford to do something like that i would as well.Thats a good thing about being single you have more freedom to do what you want.Also in a SHTF situation you will be able to move faster and farther than most couples or families.good luck with your preps

  13. Here are some interesting ideas which, if they are even just roughly correct, would suggest possibilities for flourishing which have been neglected by almost everyone:


    “Parallel Universes”
    By Max Tegmark

    “The Case for Parallel Universes: Why the multiverse, crazy as it sounds, is a solid scientific idea”
    By Alexander Vilenkin and Max Tegmark


    “Four Dimensionalism”
    By Michael Rea
    (“Forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook for Metaphysics”)

    “Four Dimensionalism”,
    By Ted Sider
    Philosophical Review 106 (1997): 197–231

    Of course, many collectivists might come to believe in such things and let their faith motivate them to build another one of their utopias.

  14. I only started prepping a few months ago and I’m AMAZED at how far I’ve gotten. Conversations like this really help me to ponder, process, and plan. I feel the same way as many of you do concerning compassion. Frankly, I consider myself to be someone who generally cares about others but as I get older, I’m becoming much less tolerant of whining, laziness, lying, and of those who lack any sense of personal responsibility. That said, I too will not likely be handing out provisions, MY provisions, during a time of crisis. I have a feeling that if I did, people would just keep coming for more, and I just can’t afford that.
    The reality for me is, that I live in a major US city in a fairly rough neighborhood already. I have no bug-out options so I have no choice but to hunker down and defend what’s mine. I expect it to be both difficult and dangerous, and I’ve accepted the reality that I will have to shoot anyone who threatens my safety or my personal property.
    As for Gaye’s original post, it is inspiring and makes me feel proud to at least be doing something… thinking about it… developing a plan. I also appreciate the mature and honest comments y’all have given.
    So far, I’m finding that preppers are good folk. :)

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