Guest article submitted by Richard Tolzman.
A sacred cow in the preparedness community is that you should have two of essential items in the event that one fails, thusly “two is one and one is none”. But what is essential and what is not? And there are things that are essential but impractical or unnecessary to double up on. It would be impractical for me to have two freezers, keeping an extra in case the 1st one blew. It would also be unnecessary due to the simple fact that freezers last virtually forever.
We often double and triple up on stuff because “it’s a good deal”. Once you go for two, you can’t stop. You think it’s preparedness, but it is not, it’s a hoarding addiction that is anti-preparedness. Duplication doesn’t equal security. The first place to clear up the clutter in your life is in your mind by stop abusing the “two is one and one is none” guideline.
Here is what you need to have as a backup for your preparedness items if they fail: common sense, know-how, street smarts, financial assets to replace lost or dysfunctional items. And a good response to failure of plan A is to have a plan B that relies on personal skills and acquired knowledge, not equipment. The reason this is important is because a plan B consisting of skills is easily transportable. They’re in your head. Make your mind a multi-tool.
Should you stock two three or more of anything? Absolutely! For me I’ll stock expendables, stuff that is used up, like food, gas, water. But two generators? No. My second “generator” is a supply of flashlights, batteries, candles and an inverter that can be powered by a vehicle.
The guideline should be to double up on whatever you use up or are seriously dependent upon and would be practical. Maintaining large expensive pieces of equipment that have a track record of longevity and reliability wouldn’t be practical or necessary if they are sitting storage awaiting the someday failure of #1.
Some items you would get extra of not because of the possibility of the first one to fail, but because you use them both. Two pressure canners for instance would make it possible to do two batches of canning in much less time than with just the one.
Another big problem with maintaining two of each is the false sense of security it gives you. Just because you have two you might think you are covered when in fact you don’t know how to use either one. A dozen of anything isn’t any better than just one if you don’t know how to use it. People buy compasses and maps and hand-held GPS units and don’t know how to find their way out of a basketball court with any of them. Or you can acquire a weather radio, a walkie-talkie radio set, ham radio, short-wave and think you’re all set except that you’ve never used them, or not lately. Don’t get a second of anything if you are not proficient with the first one.
Mindless acquisition of seconds can turn into an unmanageable inventory of clutter. If you can sleep okay without owning it, it is clutter; don’t buy it or get rid of it. If you have duplicates of items that you’ve lived your entire life without before you began practicing “two is one and one is none” thinking, perhaps you can whittle those down to just one of each and be just fine. And before you ever pick up ‘an extra’, keep in mind that is almost always much more difficult to get rid of stuff than to acquire it.