By Kellene Bishop
You’ve heard the announcement on the TV of a pending emergency. What’s your first reaction? Well, if you’re like 95% of the adult population it’s to go to the store and stock up. But if you already have key items on hand and know how to discern between that which is needful and that which is foolish, you’ll avoid the chaos that will inevitably be present at any store after such an announcement.
Want to know what to be sure you have on hand in the event of an emergency? Here is a list of items that typically were scarce or flew off of the shelves first in other areas of the country when a disaster hit. Obviously, if these items are the first to go when doom and gloom is forecast, then it is logical to believe that these are items that people will value most in an emergency. However, while I will highlight these items as those which individuals hoard in an emergency, I will also address why you may be smart to avoid the hoarding inclination.
NOTE: I don’t typically post blogs this long, though I realize people may want to print this off as a reference. This is a very thorough list, but if you read nothing else, read #58.
Supplies to Have on Hand--Emergency or Otherwise!
- Generator: If you must get one of these, do not skimp. Get a good quality one. However, I don’t recommend that you waste good money on this when you don’t have everything else ready. A generator should be the last thing you acquire because it is a luxury item. And worst case scenario, you can trade some of the many other valuable items you have for the temporary use of a generator. In order to use one of these, you will need to store gasoline which does not have a long shelf-life. It will also be a target of thieves and it makes its share of noise too. You will also need to be prepared to perform repairs on it as well.
- Water Filters/Purifiers: Iodine tablets, charcoal based purifiers, gravity fed purifiers, etc, are ideal. You can also use a solar oven to pasteurize your water. Also, store regular Chlorox to purify your water as well.
- Portable Toilets: This item has been increasing in price on a regular basis. You can purchase an inexpensive 5 gallon bucket and a “toilet lid” for it as well. Be sure to store lye or some other available products to break down the waste. Chlorox is useful for this as well. Also store plenty of heavy duty plastic bags to line the bucket with. It’s smart to have shovels on hand as well to provide alternative resources or to dispose of the waste as well.
- Seasoned Firewood: While it doesn’t necessarily need to be seasoned, that’s simply what hoarders go after. It usually costs about $100 per cord; Your regular wood can take between 6 to 12 months to become sufficiently dried. It takes a great deal of wood to use as a heat, light and cooking resource. I recommend that you store alternative types of fuel instead such as propane, kerosene, or Isopropyl alcohol. Obviously, whichever fuel you have you’ll want to make sure that you have the appropriate items which USE such fuel.
- Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps: Too often folks forget to have multiple wicks. I’ve read and seen situations where there were plenty of oil, but not enough wick. Considering they are inexpensive it’s a shame not to have the on hand in abundance. Be sure to buy clear oil. You will be happy to have as much of this as is legally possible to store. I store lamps which function on kerosene instead of the more traditional expensive lamp oil.
- Coleman Fuel: I’m not advocating this particular fuel specifically, it’s just the first to go in the event of a looming emergency. While this may not be important to you, it may be urgent for your less-prepared neighbors. The cost is between $2.69 to 9.00 a gallon, depending on where you go. Ultimately, Coleman fuel is white gas. It burns hot and clean. You can also purchase MSR fuel which is more expensive, burns hotter and cleaner. In fact, if you have a problem with a stove that’s not burning right you can burn MSR fuel through it and it will do better. This is definitely something that I would have plenty on hand!
- Self-Defense Tools Other Than Guns & Ammunition (such as Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats, Slingshots, etc. Sometimes a firearm isn't appropriate but the need for security always will be. Go with what you're comfortable with though and what you have the mental fortitude to use.
- Hand-Can openers & hand egg beaters, whisks: If you’ve relied on these items electrically, be sure you have the skills to get the same task done without the electricity.
- Honey, Syrups, white and brown sugars Honey is your bet all purpose sweet item. It stores well longer then sugar and has a better glycemic affect on the body than sugars. Consider storing the sugar in a 5 gallon bucket, but use one of the stone sugar preservers (mine are all in the shape of gingerbread men). They keep the sugar soft and nice.
- Rice; Beans; Wheat: White rice is now $12.95 - 50# bag. Sam's Club. White rice stocks in store all over are depleting often and then being replaced with the more expensive Jasmine Rice. So bottom line, when you see it on the shelves for a price that doesn’t feel like our national debt, get it. Rice, wheat, and beans will cook faster and with less hassle in a Pressure Cooker. I highly recommend you embrace this way of cooking. You may also want to consider adding flax seed or millet to your collection of grains as well as they are an asset to your digestive system as well.
- Vegetable oil: for cooking, baking, maintenance, etc. You’ve got to have oil so that your hormones and joints will function properly, so don’t try to skimp on using such a commodity. Peanut oil burns very hot and can store for a long time. We’ve stored ours for as long as 5 years, and that’s after using it. Olive Oil also has a good shelf life and is also good for you. However, the best oil to store is expeller pressed coconut oil. It doesn’t taste like coconut in your foods, and has a very, very long shelf life.
- Charcoal & Lighter fluid: While this may be OK for an immediate source of cooking, it’s unrealistic to think of this as a long-term solution. Being able to store enough is not likely and the lighter fluid is combustible, so not ideal to store either. Think in terms of more long-term solutions such as the fuels I’ve mentioned previously. However, these two items will become scarce very, very quickly if a news report breaks out of a coming catastrophe.
- Water containers: In my opinion, if you wait for the news report to try and obtain these, then you’ve waited too long. You should be acquiring these now. Only use hard clear plastic. Do not use milk bottles as they break down very quickly. It’s important to think in terms of all different kinds of sizes so that you can have portable water as well as primary sources. You can live without food for 3 days, but you cannot go very long without water. It’s necessary for the 200,000 gallons of blood your heart pumps through each day, and the several thousands of gallons worth of water than your kidney and liver go through each day as well.
- Fuel-based heater: It would be a shame to have plenty of food and water on hand but still perish due to cold weather. Cold weather will also compound any illnesses that you and your family may be experiencing as well. If you use a kerosene heater, you can use it inside in an emergency situation, but you will need to have ventilation as well.
- Grain Grinder: Yes, these get hoarded in an emergency situation. You need to have a non-electric one on hand. Flour will fly off the shelves with the right newscast. And it’s significantly more expensive than the whole grains of wheat, millet, etc. So start looking now for the ideal model while you have the luxury to do so in order to not have to do with whatever is left.
- Propane Cylinders: Another highly hoarded item is the grills that go with the propane cylinders. Be sure that you have a quality grill on hand now and some spare propane cylinders as well.
- Lamps such as Aladdin, Coleman, etc.: YOU will not successfully be able to light your environment without something more substantial than candles. A human being will function an average of 8 hours each day when there is no natural light on hand. You’re probably more reliant on light that you realize. So be sure to think in terms of long-term lighting solutions now. Be sure that you have appropriate hardware to hang a lantern someplace as well.
- Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula/ointments/aspirin, etc. These items were some of the most asked for items when the Teton Dam broke. I would suggest that if you have little ones in diapers that you at least store some cloth diapers and pins for an emergency as well. Even though we do not have children, we have put them in our storage as a great trade item should things come to that.
- Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer: Sanitation is critical in an emergency. And having clean clothes is a serious component of maintaining a sanitary environment. There are also small hand-cranked clothes cleaners you can purchase at emergency preparedness supply stores. Your biggest downfall will be if you think in terms of “short-term survival” and think that you won’t need clean clothes. Be sure that you have liquid laundry detergent on hand as well!
- Cookstoves: such as propane, Coleman, and kerosene. I would suggest that you get these now while you have the luxury of selection and also be sure that they operate properly. Having to live off of such a small cooking surface can be daunting. The use of a pressure cooker will help you conserve fuel as it takes less to heat them up and keep them hot. And you’ll still end up with very hearth and satisfying meals with them as well.
- Vitamins: I’m relieved that such an item is hoarded. Do not underestimate this asset. It is critical. Due to the lack of serious diseases in our culture so many of them are off our radar, but in an emergency when you are making your meals from what’s dead and processed on your shelves, supplementing that food with sheer vitamins is critical. Vitamins C, E, and B are the top of my list. If you’re involved with a nutritional network marketing company, be sure to store a year’s supply of the health product of your choice! (I prefer Reliv to everything else I’ve tried out there over the last 3 decades… Not only is it the highest quality of nutrition I’ve found, but I could live off of it too if I had to.)
- Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder: Small but important. The small canisters are actually dangerous to use without them.
- Hygiene products: such as feminine products, shampoos, toothbrushes and paste, floss, deodorants, and lotions. There is a reusable product called a menstrual cup made from either latex or medical-grade silicon. They work much like a diaphragm. I recommend the DivaCuptm. Also be sure you have combs and brushes on hand. For some reason there was a run on women’s hair bands after the Teton Dam broke as well. Guess when you don’t care what you look like, you just want to pull that hair back and get back to work. Be sure that you also have baby wipes also. Using them to “bathe” with will conserve your water and your energy. So will anti-bacterial liquids such as Purell.
- Thermal underwear: Remember tops and bottoms.
- Bow saws, axes and hatchets & Wedges: Remember the honing oil as well.
- Aluminum foil: If you have to select between regular or heavy duty, get the heavy duty. You can wash it and reuse it under many circumstances. (Great Cooking & Barter item)
- Gasoline containers: I completely disagree with this item, but if you’ve got to flee in your vehicle, it is smart to have on hand. However, for long-term survival, gasoline is impractical. It’s dangerous and it will only put a target on your back from looters who can’t think to survive any other way.
- Garbage bags: This is one item that you do not want to skimp on. If we fail to take care of sanitation, then everyone within a 50 mile radius will be dead within 90 days. It’s impossible to have too many of these.
- Paper products: such as toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels. Do you even know how long one roll of toilet paper lasts in your home? Better find out. Also paper plates and plastic cups and utensils will help to conserve your water supply as well as your energy.
- Milk: Think in terms of powdered or condensed milk. Be sure the shake the canned milk every 90 to 120 days. You can make a whole lot of your ideal dairy products with powdered milk such as cheese, yogurt, sour cream, butter, etc.
- Garden seeds: (Non-hybrid) Do not buy canned seeds – they must be aerated.
- Clothes pins/line/hangers: This should be a “duh” item, but most of us take our electric dryer for granted.
- Canned meats: Thank goodness for the big wholesale warehouses that sell quality canned beef, chicken, turkey and tuna. Also, I’d rethink your negative stigmas of the canned “meat” Spam. I’ve made several great dishes with this recently. And Spam stores for a very, very long time.
- Fire extinguishers: Where there’s chaos, there are fires. Be sure you’re prepared. It would also be smart to have very large boxes of baking soda on hand for the same purpose as well.
- First aid kits: Ideally you can also have a military field surgical kit on hand as well. This is an area that is significantly underrated and will be used more times that a toilet in an emergency. Be sure to remember aspirin, ibuprofen, and cough syrup as well.
- Batteries: You’ll want to be sure that you have all different sizes on hand. In my opinion though, you’re best off if you have rechargeable batteries and invest in a solar battery charger. Be sure to be mindful of the expiration dates on the batteries your purchase.
- Spices and baking supplies: Be mindful of flour, yeast, salt, garlic, and other spices that you use on a regular basis. Be sure you have bouillons and soy sauce, plus mixes for soy sauce, vinegars, gravy mixes and soup mixes on hand as well.
- Matches: While matches are an asset, you’d be better off getting a magnesium stick with a striker. However, if you’re going to purchase matches, be sure to get the “strike anywhere” kind. Keep in mind that the boxed and wooden matches will go first in an emergency.
- Writing paper/pads/pencils/solar calculators: Don’t make me expound on this one. Just make sure you have plenty paper and writing utensils on hand J
- Insulated ice chests: Ice chests have a dual purpose in both warm and cold weather. In the warm weather they obviously can prevent items from overheating, but in the cold, they can keep items from getting freezer burn or just plain getting too cold. Think of them as an insulator for what ever temperature you want to maintain.
- Labor attire: such as work boots, belts, gloves, jeans, etc. You’ll find yourself much more active in an emergency. So your everyday clothes that you may wear for fashion as opposed to function just aren’t going to cut it.
- Flashlights, light sticks, and torches: Portable lighting will be invaluable in an emergency.
- Cast iron cookware: When you’re cooking on raw open flames you definitely don’t want to you use your standard cookware. Be sure you have cast iron cookware available.
- Fishing supplies/tools: While this is a resource for getting “protein” in your diet, the likelihood of fishing supplies really coming in handy during the initial phase of an emergency is slim. Waters could be poisoned in the event of an earthquake or terrorist attack, and you will be much more focused on taking care of your family right where you are rather than expending energy to forage for food in the lakes and streams. This is yet another reason why you need to have food stored that you can use in your home, and not kid yourself into thinking that you can fish your way through a disaster.
- Pest and Insect repellents: Consider sprays, creams, or lotions. The oil made by Avon, called Skin-So-Soft is actually a VERY effective mosquito repellent and obviously has multiple purposes. In the event of a disaster which requires you to live without your standard comforts, get ready to make friends with the bugs. Keep traps and bug sprays on hands as well. When all heck breaks loose, the varmints will come from everywhere they normally are foraging for survival just like you.
- Duct tape: You will NEED duct tape. And lots of it for a whole lot of reasons. We have purchased cases of it at the warehouse places.
- Shelter Materials: Be sure you have heavy tarps, stakes, and rope on hand to ensure that you do not go without shelter. You will also need the tarp to section off rooms in the cold so that you’re heating just small spaces instead of your entire home. You’ll want to be mindful of screen patches, glue (super glue, craft glue and fabric glue), nails, screws, nuts and bolts.
- Candles: While these do run in short supply very quickly in the event of a looming disaster, they are extremely ineffective as a source of light. See comments on lamps for more details. Spend your money elsewhere.
- Backpacks & Duffle bags: in the event that you’ve got to leave your home and travel with sufficient supplies elsewhere, backpacks are necessary. These are also ideal for a 72 hour kit if you choose to have those handy as well.
- Sewing supplies: Clothes will need repairs; fabric will need modified, so be sure that you have a really good quality of scissors. If you don’t know how to sew, it will serve you well to take a couple of basic classes. Regardless of what your financial circumstances are that may prohibit you from purchasing the preparedness items you need, you have no excuse not to hoard knowledge. You’ve got the internet, the library, and a whole lot of cheap or free classes available so that you can learn these types of necessary skills.
- Canned goods: such as fruits, veggies, soups, etc. Be sure to have your own canning supplies on hand as well such as the jars, lids, and paraffin wax. This makes plug #3 for a pressure cooker a wise investment so that when you do can foods, you ensure your jars seal properly.
- Knives: Be sure to have the foresight for sharpening tools as well. Obviously these are good as weapons, tools, cooking aids, etc. Don’t skimp on something so critical. My husband periodically takes solely a knife and hikes into the wilderness. It’s the most important tool he takes with him.
- Bedding: While you may believe your own bed is comfort enough, you’re very likely to be taking others into your shelter in the event of an emergency, or to need to flee elsewhere with transportable bedding. Think of having sleeping bags, cots, self-inflating mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets, and ground mattresses on hand. You’ll be useless if you can’t get quality rest at night.
- Games: such as board games, cards, dice, etc. I love seeing that these are items that are in high demand in the event of an emergency. Many have the foresight to take care of the mental needs of themselves and their loved ones.
- Water enhancers: such as chocolate or strawberry powder, Tang, Kool-Aid etc. While it takes much less energy to add a flavor to stored water to make it taste good, it’s not the best way to intake your daily dose of water, especially in an emergency state. Your body even treats water with a simple lemon in it completely different than it does straight water. It has to exert energy to filter it prior to it being used by the kidneys and the rest of your body. Your body needs WATER. Just plain WATER to function properly. Try to avoid relying on flavors to get your necessary intake. Instead try pouring the water from one container to another to aerate it to make the taste more pleasant.
- Easy foods: Such as graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, trail mix, beef jerky, peanut butters, and nuts.
- Lumber: 2 x 4s and sheets of plywood are the first to go. Having a few of these pieces on hand will save you a great deal of stress later.
- And last, but definitely NOT least… Guns and Ammo: While many so-called emergency preparedness experts tend to shy away from discussing this need, it’s naïve and frankly derelict in my opinion to do so. If there’s an emergency, chaos will ensue. There’s no guarantee that those behind bars will stay there after an earthquake of massive power outage. And there are PLENTY of persons who are not prepared for such a disaster that will be desperate and highly motivated to get the resources they need—from your supplies. You can say to yourself that you would be willing to die if someone needed your food and other supplies that badly. That’s fine. That’s your choice. But are you willing to make that same choice for your children? It’s naïve to believe no one will be interested in your supplies and that those that are won't be in a "desperate state of mind." Are you willing to watch idly by while those you love have their virtue threatened at the hands of violent criminals as well? In order of priority, get a handgun first, then a shotgun, and then a rifle. Be sure that you have at least 1,000 rounds of ammo for each gun type you have. And last but not least, be sure you get sufficient knowledge so that you can actually use a firearm in an emergency. Mark my words, there will come a time in which ammo is worth more than the currency you carry in your purse or wallet. So even if you have no intention of defending yourself, you may want to at least have something of value on hand to get what you need. If you don’t believe that these items will be important in the event of an emergency, understand that sales have increased over 40% from last year just because of an administrative change in our government. People will be more aware of this need in the event of a disaster. Having the supplies are one thing. Being assured that you get to benefit from them is another. Ok. If you’re going to store guns, then be sure you have stored at least 1,000 rounds of ammo for each gun. Yes, one thousand. If all heck breaks loose, your ammo supplies will be worth more than your cash! Whatever it is that you store to ensure you are not the victim of civil unrest or lawlessness, be sure you know how to use it properly (see www.womenofcaliber.com for more information on this topic)
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