Preppers: 5 Things That Can Kill You

Prepper Death

1.) Hoisted On One’s Own Petard

Petard: from Middle French meaning bomb

It means, “To blow oneself up with one’s own bomb, be undone by one’s own devices”. (From Shakespeare’s Hamlet)

“Booby trap” a setup or device placed with the intentions of killing, harming or in some cases, surprising a person.

People that fool around with booby traps are sometimes called “Three Fingered Bob” or referred to in the past tense. Booby traps are dangerous and yet there are hundreds of blogs and websites dedicated to them for home defense in a survival situation.

Side Note: Attaching noisemakers to a wire or rope strung ankle high across a path or around a perimeter is not a booby trap in the traditional sense. These early warning systems are effective in some circumstances and not normally considered dangerous.

What a booby trap is designed to do is to delay the enemy, channel the enemy along a specific path or course, to harass and demoralize the enemy, and finally they are often used to supplement a unit or organizations firepower.

Booby traps will kill or maim you, your family members, innocent bystanders and animals if you do not know what you are doing. For booby traps to be effective, you need a clear plan for their use and have a reasonable expectation of enemy forces moving through the area. Additionally, like in many war zones the conflict moves to another area and yet the anti-personnel traps are left activated for children and others to stumble upon days, weeks and even years later.

Trip wires attached to a shotgun trigger or to the pin on a fragmentation grenade is deadly. You can imagine setting traps of this sort around the perimeter and then tripping one yourself no matter how detailed your map is of where the traps are. Once the firefights starts, you do not have time to consult your map, and thus you and yours end up tripping your own devices as you attempt to flank the enemy forces. Done in by your own devices.

2.)  The Irony of It All Death by A Thousand Cuts

You could define irony as living through a nuclear war and then dying from a small cut to the leg because of an infection. Tetanus (bacterial) for example, often called “lock jaw” is many times fatal, even with treatment. Taking preventive measures is important. The two major means of preventing tetanus are immunization and wound care. A tetanus vaccination is good for up to 10 years.

It is important that you are updated on all vaccines and for those that do not believe in them so be it. For all others it is important that you keep up with this because once the SHTF you do not want to remember your tetanus shot was 11 years ago.

Keep yourself clean, and know basic first aid. The little things in life can build up to the point they will kill you if you do not stay ahead of them.

3.) Food Poisoning (Food Borne Illness)

Dirty serving utensils, dirty hands, lack of refrigeration can, and will lead to food poisoning. According to the FDA, there are 48 million cases of food borne illness every year in the United States, causing thousands to be hospitalized and resulting in 3,000 deaths (FDA, 2014).

Amazingly, with the technology available today, people still get sick and die from food-borne illnesses. Imagine how many will get sick when clean water for sanitation is at a premium and there is no refrigeration. People will die and in large numbers because of contaminated foods.

How to help stop it from happening is relatively simple. Clean your hands before handling foods. Cook all foods at a high enough temperature for long enough to kill any bacteria present. Keep your work area free of spoiled foods, other garbage and have a plan for the disposal of human waste.

Do not let just anyone handle your food supply unless the proper precautions have been taken. Make sure you do not eat any leftover foods that require refrigeration unless they have been stored at a safe storage temperature, usually at 40ᵒF/4.4C or below.

This all requires planning for disposing of waste, storage and cooking of foods and keeping your hands and body clean when the SHTF, otherwise you may die from that delicious wild turkey casserole from last night.

4.) Failure to Adapt and Thus You Cannot Overcome

People become convinced their plan is the only plan, because well, it is the only plan they have. You cannot get so impressed with yourself that you start to believe you know it all. Always check and double-check your plans and always have a backup plan.

You must be ready to change plans if a better idea is presented. Ego will get you and others killed. Survival is about using what is in your environment and adapting to it. You cannot pound a square peg into a round hole so adapt to the situation.

The rigid back breaks while the flexible one bends. If you are unwilling to look at different ideas and are not willing to adapt even when the information on the ground says you should you will not survive long.

5.) Not Being Realistic

The “gravy train” has left the station. Survival is not easy at the best of times. People have become accustomed to just getting through the day, dealing with traffic, cranky bosses and co-workers and poor service at the local deli, life is so hard.

In a SHTF situation hard takes on a new meaning and just getting by is living long enough to bring back some food for the table. You really have to fight tooth and nail to sustain life. Do not romanticize doomsday, or think that a power grid failure is an adventure. People by the thousands if not millions will die in the first few hours and days after a grid failure. It will be anything but an adventure.

You will get that flutter in your stomach that says bad things are coming and you will feel so small, because living and staying alive just took on a new meaning. Things you never imagined will hit you like a wave. Fear will be your friend that keeps you alert through the darkness. Get real with your preparations. Life after a disaster it is not a carnival ride that will give you a few thrills and then you are allowed to step away after the ride winds down.

FDA. (2014). Retrieved 2014, from