These 17 Survival Food and Water Mistakes Could Kill Any Prepper

by Dan Sullivan, Sullivan Survival I‘m sorry I’m being so drastic, I rarely use the word kill but in this case it’s important. Some of these mistakes could be lethal even before SHTF, provided that you consume some of your survival stockpile as part of your rotation process.

These aren’t your average food stockpiling mistakes, as you’re about to witness. So let’s see them!

Lethal Mistake #1: Stockpiling Food They’re Allergic To

How frustrating would it be to stockpile a lot of peanut butter, for instance, and wake up that you’re allergic to nuts? Right now you have the luxury of eating something else but what if peanut butter is going to be the last food in your pantry and you won’t be able to eat anything else?

Solution: make a list of all the things you and your family are allergic to and plan your food stockpile accordingly. Even better, go to a clinic and take one of those allergy tests that will check if you’re allergic to dozens and dozens of substances. They’re quick and don’t hurt at all.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should NOT hoard on peanut butter simply because you’re allergic to it. Maybe your family isn’t and you don’t want to deprive your children of this comfort food when they need it most, right?

Lethal Mistake #2: Improper Home Canning

Canning is not that hard if you follow the recipe to the letter but can lead to a very serious illness called botulism. Using proper canning techniques is critical to avoid this horrible disease that has the worst of symptoms: double vision, being tired and barely being able to move.

There are two types of canning methods: water bath and pressure. The first one is easier but only works for certain types of foods that are high-acidic but if you want to make absolutely sure you don’t get infected with botulism, pressure canning is recommended. This is because the temperatures used are even higher which kills the Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Before you eat canned food, you should carefully inspect the container. If it’s swollen, cracked or bulged or if the food is foamy, discolored or smells bad, you should throw away that food immediately.

Lethal Mistake #3: Letting Air Inside Their Stockpiled Food

There’s a good reason why we use mylar bags + oxygen absorbers for the vast majority of the survival food we stockpile (if you’ve read my article on the best 37 foods to hoard, you probably noticed that).

Here’s what happens… A lot of the foods we store for long-term survival have fat in them. In time, this fat reacts with oxygen which makes the food go rancid. Storing them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers inside is going to prevent it from going bag. You do need to make sure the bags area sealed tightly, though.

Lethal Mistake #4: Reusing Canning Lids

You can reuse the jars but NEVER the canning lids. This is because the rubber on the lid is dented if you’ve previously used it to tighten a jar and what you need is one that’s flat because then you’re sure no air will come through. Lids are actually a fantastic item to stockpile more than you need of. They’re gonna be hard to find post-collapse so you can use them for bartering purposes.

Lethal Mistake #5: Re-purposing Milk or Juice Containers to Store Water

Using plastic jugs or cardboard containers that used to hold milk or juice is a big no-no when storing potable water for your survival. These containers cannot be properly cleaned and you can bet anything that bacteria is going to start growing inside.

Lethal Mistake #6: Eating Wild Game Without Cooking It First

OK, so you probably never came across this but it doesn’t hurt to know about it. If you’re out there in the wild and you’re starving and you just managed to catch something, don’t rush to eat it raw. You need to cook it, otherwise the parasites and bacteria could cause you serious harm.

Lethal Mistake #7: Eating Wild Mushrooms

There are literally thousands of mushrooms in the United States with only about 100 species being poisonous. Nevertheless, attempting to eat them will surely put your life in the hands of Lady Luck as it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between the ones that are ok to eat and the ones that aren’t.

Unless you’re really really familiar with the types of mushrooms that grow at your latitude, I strongly suggest you suck it until you find something else to eat.

Lethal Mistake #8: Using Trash-Can Liners to Store Food

These are actually treated with pesticides so the last thing you want is to store food in them!

Lethal Mistake #9: Storing All Their Food in the Same Place

If your house is looted or if a hurricane knocks it down, you’re left with no food and you chances of survival are strongly diminished. Then what?

You should never put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to your food stockpile. Some of the other places you can store it include:

  • your bug-out vehicle
  • your bug-out location
  • your barn
  • your tool sheds
  • in fake garbage bins in your backyard

Lethal Mistake #10: Ignoring The Storage Temperature

If they know they need to store their food in a cool, dark place, such as a basement, then why would they do it inside their garage where temperatures are going to be pretty high during summer?

Lethal Mistake #11: Not Freezing Pasta Before Storing It

Pasta is stored the old fashioned way, inside Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. However, there’s a catch. Pasta has these larvae eggs that start developing in time. Freezing pasta for a few days before storing it for the long term is going to take care of the problem.

Lethal Mistake #12: Feeding Their Pets The Wrong Food When SHTF

As you may or may not know, not everything we eat is also good for our pets. Give your dog enough chocolate and it could die. What you should do is stockpile pet food for dark days along with bug-out bags for each of your little friends.

Lethal Mistake #13: Not Keeping In Mind Their Medical Condition

If you’re a diabetic, you obviously can’t stockpile the same foods everyone else is, right? I’m no doctor so you should definitely check with yours to make sure that the foods you’re about to hoard are indeed good for you.

Lethal Mistake #14: Failing at COMSEC

You can have all the food in the world but if you tell anyone, that news will spread and the wrong (read desperate) people are going to hear about it. In times of social breakdown, they might not hesitate to take you down to get to your food or water supply. COMSEC (which stands for communications security) simply means keeping your mouth shut (even when you feel like bragging with what a good prepper you are!).

Lethal Mistake #15: Keeping Expired Antibiotics

Again, I’m no doctor, by my extensive research has shown that it’s best not to mess with expired antibiotics, particularly if they’re in liquid form. This is somewhat of a controversy but if you make it a rule never to take antibiotics past their expiration dates… better safe than sorry.

Lethal Mistake #16: Cooking When They Aren’t Supposed To

The smell of cooking is going to attract a lot of zombies post-collapse. People who will do anything for a scrap of food. If you’ll be in this situation, it’s best to avoid cooking altogether and focus on things like canned food that will not tip anyone off that you have what they need.

Lethal Mistake #17: Not Washing The Edible Plants They Find

This is of particular importance in the city, where you risk picking up plants (as part of your foraging efforts) that have pee on them.  I haven’t heard of people dying from eating clovers with pee on them but I have heard of a few dying from drinking from soda cans that had rat pee on them.

The bottom line: you should always wash every edible plant you intend to consume.

Bonus: A Few Non-Lethal Mistakes

I added these here simply because they make sense. They won’t kill you but they will temporarily affect how your body will function.

Mistake: Eating Freeze-Dried Food Without Adding Water

I haven’t heard of anyone actually trying this but my guess is that the absence of water is going to dehydrate you a little bit… and that’s something you don’t want to see happening post-collapse when you’ll need to stay fully hydrated.

Mistake: Eating Snow

Eating snow means extra energy for your body to heat it and the last things you want in an emergency is to spend much-needed energy and lower your core body temperature. Plus, the cold feeling you’re going to experience in your throat and stomach is not going to be pleasant, I assure you.

The trick is to melt the snow and, if you can, to remove some of the pollutants by purifying it.

Mistake: Not Having the Tools and Knowledge to Process and Eat the Food

If you have a lot of cans but no can opener, it’s going to be tough. If you stockpiled a lot of whole grains but you have no grinder, again, it is going to be tough. If you stored this or that food but have no idea how to cook it, you’re pretty much stuck.

Mistake: Putting Only One Food Type Inside a Bucket

The reason is simple. Provided you have to bug out when disaster strikes, you’re gonna have just a few minutes to load as much food as you can in your car before you get out of there. So, as long as you can only grab one, maybe two buckets, it would make much more sense if you had a small variety of foods in them.

Of course, each Mylar bag should have only one type of food but you can put various bags in one bucket.

Mistake: Putting Oxygen Absorbers With Sugar

Nothing bad will happen if you eat it but putting O2 absorbers is going to really solidify it and… you just don’t want that.

Final Word

What was the one big food or water stockpiling mistake that could have killed you? Let everyone know in a comment below.

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