Did you hear about the fellow who unpacked and set up his new kerosene heater after the ice storm knocked out the power, only to find its igniter needed 2 D-cell batteries? It wasn’t a laughing matter.
You can prevent this kind of a situation by testing and practicing with your preps before you need them. Get familiar with your tools, unpack and assemble your equipment, and test and optimize things before you need to rely on them in an emergency. Not only can you rest assured that you really are prepped, but you will have the knowledge and confidence to use your gear in an emergency.
Don’t be one of those types who are prepared “on paper” – put in the extra work and be prepared in actuality. Because as gun guru Jeff Cooper said, “Owning a gun doesn’t make you any more armed than owing a guitar makes you a musician.” Have a container full of supplies you don’t know how to use doesn’t make you a prepper.
Here are some specific tips from Dave on how to test your preps and yourself:
- Test new gear as soon as you get it home. The time to find out that your new grain mill does not produce very fine flour is right after you buy it, while you may still have the opportunity to trade it in for a better model.
- Try your long term storage foods now. An easy way to do this and to rotate your stores is to eat from your survival supplies one day per week. After all, you may be eating this stuff for months at a time – better make sure the family likes the taste, can digest it, and that it doesn’t cause any allergic relations before you find yourself in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Also, using dehydrated and freeze dried foods can take practice, so try it now when you have all the conveniences of a modern kitchen at hand. If you plan to grind your own flour and bake bread by hand, start doing so now. Not only will you be better at it after a disaster strikes, it’s healthy and you will know the recipe your family likes best.
- Shoot any new firearms shortly after acquiring them. Take your new gun to the range, shoot it, sight it in, and get to know its idiosyncrasies before you need to rely on it for self-defense or to put food on the table. After your range trip, disassemble, clean, lubricate and reassemble your gun. Dave recommends shooting, cleaning and lubricating all your firearms at least once per year to ensure they are functioning properly and haven’t rusted.
- Practice grid down scenarios. Pick a weekend and shut the power off at the breaker box. Get some first-hand experience with no power and live like you would live in a true emergency situation. Make a list of everything you need to make surviving without power easier the next time around.
- Go camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting. Practice your outdoor skills now, while you can still use Google to find maps and YouTube videos to watch for instructions. Get training while there are people willing to teach you. Find out what tricks you need to learn and what tools you need to buy before it is too late.
- Practice bugging out. If you are planning to bug out in certain situations, pretend the situation is now, and give the family 30 minutes to load the car and head out to your bugout location. See how ready they are and learn what you all forget to pack when it won’t do much harm. Each time you practices, take an alternate route there or back, just in case.
Finally, remember that amateurs practice until they get it right while professionals practices until they can’t get it wrong. To be a pro at prepping, you need to test your gear and practices your techniques until they become second nature.