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50 Preparedness Items for Less Than $5 Each


50 Preparedness Items for Less Than $5 EachPrepping can be expensive if you’re buying huge boxes of freeze-dried food and the latest survival gadgets. But if you buy a few small items every week for several years, eventually you’ll have everything you need to survive a disaster (short of something apocalyptic like a nuclear war).

In this article, I’m going to prove my point by listing 50 items for less than $5 each. Many of these aren’t normally thought of as “preparedness items,” but nonetheless they are things you’ll want to have during a long-term disaster, so even if you already have some of them, it can’t hurt to have extra.

The new year has just begun, so here’s what I suggest if you’re a brand new prepper. Every week, buy one of these items along with a day’s worth of food for your family.

By the end of the year, you’ll have everything on this list along with 50 days of food, and you’ll be more prepared than 99% of society.

Here’s the list. (Note: As of this writing, everything on this list is less than $5, but prices may change.)

1. Lighter – A simple BIC lighter is extremely cheap and can be bought in packs of five for about $5. Lighters are essential for quickly getting fire going, and BIC lighters in particular can also be refilled.

2. Box of Matches – We can’t mention lighters without also mentioning matches. You can buy a few boxes of dozens or hundreds of waterproof matches for just $5.

3. Magnesium Flint Striker – This is perhaps the most useful fire starting device of all because it can be soaked in water and will still work perfectly well afterward.

4. Tylenol – Tylenol is great for relieving pain such as stomachaches or headaches, and you can buy literally thousands of Tylenol pills for only five dollars.

5. Ibuprofen – An excellent alternative to Tylenol, ibuprofen can also be bought in bottles for only five dollars.

6. Bandages and Gauze Pads – Bandages and gauze pads are a necessity for covering open wounds and preventing infections.

7. Alcohol Pads – Alcohol pads are necessary for sterilizing the site of a wound before proceeding with future medical action, and they are extremely cheap.

8. Can Opener – One of the handiest items you can have, especially if you store lots of canned food.

9. Camp Stove Fuel – Do you have a camp stove? If so, you’ll need fuel to keep it burning.

10. Fishing Line – Besides the intended use, fishing line can also be used as a clothesline, for building shelters, for sewing ripped clothing, for emergency medical sutures, or for making a trip wire.

11. Fishing Hooks – If you have fishing line, investing in fishing hooks to complete a basic tackle box set up would be wise.

12. Duct Tape – Here’s a hard question to ask yourself: what can duct tape NOT fix? Here are several dozen uses for duct tape.

13. Paracord – You can easily buy 50 or so feet of Paracord for five dollars or less, which can then be used for a multitude of creative survival uses.

14. Flashlight – A basic flashlight can easily be acquired for less than $5. In fact, you can get a $30 flashlight free and all you have to do is pay $5 shipping.

15. Batteries – For powering your flashlight or any other electronic equipment you have.

16. Nails – Nails will certainly prove their worth to you when it comes to building a shelter or repairing damage after a storm.

17. Toothbrush & Toothpaste – Dental hygiene is critically important in a survival situation, and a single toothbrush and small bottle of toothpaste can be purchased for a few dollars.

18. Ear Plugs – These would be good to have during an urban emergency which could be very noisy, or to help you sleep at night (just make sure someone is keeping watch).

19. Baking Soda – This is perhaps the most versatile cleaning/hygiene item of all time; use it for creating the following: toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, and more.

20. Bar of soap – Soap isn’t just necessary for personal hygiene, it’s also great as a trading commodity.

21. Disposable Razors – Buy several in a pack for $5 or less.

22. Needles and Thread – Must-have items for performing emergency medical sutures or repairing torn backpacks, clothing, tents, or tarps.

23. Burn Gel Packets – A great and overlooked first aid item for providing you with quick relief from pain created by abrasion, burns, scrapes, or cuts.

24. Chapstick – You can use a simple container of chapstick for relieve chapped lips, to make a candle, as a fire starter, to even treat a small wound, and other things.

25. Bandana – One of the most iconic survival items of all time, and with good reason; use a bandana as a cloth, as a cool compress, as a water filter, as a gun rag, as a napkin, as a bandage, and so on.

26. Ziploc Bags – Good for organizing small items and keeping tinder, edibles, electronics, etc. dry.

27. Compass – Small cheap compasses can be easily acquired by you, and they’ll work better then you may give them credit for; they are absolutely necessary for quickly telling your sense of direction so you don’t walk around in circles.

28. Energy/Protein/Granola Bars – The beauty of energy bars is they are nutritious, filling, don’t require refrigeration, and are extremely portable; carry them wherever you go.

29. Emergency Space Blanket – Space blankets reflect your heat back to you, and are a great addition for any kind of outdoor adventure.

30. Scissors – Scissors are just a practical survival item to have on hand; foldable scissors work best.

31. Fresnel Lens – This one might sound strange, but it’s actually a great way to start a fire on a sunny day.

32. Baby Wipes – These are great to have even if you don’t have infants, because they allow you to quickly wash your hands before eating or after using the restroom.

33. Water Purification Tablets – Iodine purification tablets can quickly purify your water of deadly but unseen bacteria in only thirty seconds or less.

34. Head Lamp – This is really great to have if you’re travelling at night and need both hands to hold something other than a flashlight such as a weapon.

35. Paracord Bracelet – Paracord bracelets are very convenient and easy to carry around; you unravel them into smaller sections of Paracord.

36. Hand Sanitizer – A very handy personal hygiene item, and because of the high alcohol content, they are great for getting fires going as well.

37. Tourniquet – This is a must-have for every first aid kit. Post SHTF life could be dangerous, and you want to be ready to deal with deep wounds.

38. Folding Knife – You can’t get a high-quality knife for under $5, but considering how important knives are, having a cheap one is better than nothing.

39. Pantyhose – This one might seem silly to you, but there are many good reasons why you might want to have some pantyhose on hand after SHTF.

40. Survival Handbook – Many pocket-sized survival handbooks can be purchased for $5 each (although you might have to buy it used), and they are filled with invaluable survival information.

41. Garbage Bag – A garbage bag is a truly awesome survival item to have on hand; use them for signaling, for carrying items, as a shower, as a tarp, as a poncho, and so on.

42. Signal Mirror – If lost at sea or in the wilderness somewhere, you could use this to signal for help.

43. Whistle – One of the most classic signaling devices, and with good reason.

44. Zip Ties – If you need to bind two things together, zip ties are the easiest way to do it, but they have many other uses as well.

45. Candles – Great for lighting or for helping you get a small fire going quickly.

46. Sunblock – There are many reasons why you might spend more time outside than usual during a disaster. Don’t let yourself end up suffering from a sunburn as well.

47. Carabiners – An invaluable item for rappelling down a cliff or building shelters.

48. Cotton Balls and Vaseline – Soak the cotton in Vaseline, and it will turn any spark into a flame in any kind of survival conditions.

49. Multi Tool – Although most multitools are over $5, you can get a stainless steel multitool that fits in your wallet for less than $5.

50. $5 Bill – Last but not least, keeping a little bit of money in your survival kit will be wise in case you need to buy food or hitch a ride somewhere.

As you can see there are quite a few preparedness items that you can get for only a few dollars each. Just get a little at a time and you’ll be well prepared before you know it!

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  1. Charles on March 29, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    A hat. Yes, I know, everyone wears a hat, but I have an extra one in my bag just in case. The hat in the bag is one of those ball caps that has hidden pockets. It is black and anonymous .

  2. Tyrel on March 26, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    A Bic IS NOT REFILLABLE. Big red flag on that ( oversight ). Zippo and Ferro rods are the way to go also use the back of blade to strike sparks just like lighting a match.

  3. Bemused Berseker on January 24, 2020 at 12:51 am

    Although many of the items listed are good for personal use, some, like the $5 knife make good barter/trade items. Personally, a knife/knives are too essential of a survival tool, to go cheap on. The knife or knives (I believe you should have several) you buy should be the best you can afford. Cheap knives are made with cheap steel, difficult to sharpen, doesn’t stay sharp, break easily, and are more trouble than they’re worth. Go with a reputable manufacturer, that’s been making knives for a while. While that BUDK Deal of the Day Super Secret Marine Corp Combination Knife and Fishing Pole might look neat, it’s a novelty not a working man/woman’s knife.

    Dollar stores are a good place to pick up some items for those of us on a tight budget. I go there myself for some supplies, but you really need to think about what you’re buying, its intended purpose and its longevity under heavy use.

    In a SHTF situation, the quality of some of the essentials in your kit, needs to be the best you can afford, not the cheapest you can get.

    A good example of going too cheap occurred with me when I purchased my first AR rifle. I went cheap, but within a years time, I found myself having to replace many of the gun’s components for higher quality parts. By the time I was through upgrading the gun, I spent a lot more than if I’d bought a better rifle to begin with. Live and learn, but at least I discovered the inefficiencies before I had to depend on it.

    The old phrase, “Caveat Emptor” comes to mind, “Let the Buyer Beware.”

  4. Marlene on May 29, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Super glue. You can use it to glue skin together instead of stitches for a bad wound as well as to repair stuff.

  5. Bill T on May 14, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    How about a bar of soap?clorox to purify water .GPX to locate bug out location .you could find your BOL from any starting point. Day or night. Get one and learn to use it.

  6. Clergylady on May 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Great ideas to build on. At home I’d have most of these things and more. On the move or on foot, no way unless they are in grab and go bags for a vehicle.

    To head for the mountain is last resort for me. But if I had to I’d pull my wagon and load and unload to get through fences. There is a liveable canyon along the mountainside about 5 miles by paved then dirt road. Then ford a shallow stream on a good rock bed and go deeper into the canyon. I could drive there or painfully walk it but it’s really possible. Climbing the mesas to get onto the mountain is too much now. The canyon would be easy to shelter in from any weather. Plenty of wild life and a spring where deer and elk water is nearby.

    A son suggested that canyon. I’ve been all around and above it but never bothered to explore in it. Smart kid. Lol he’s 55. He’s been all over the mountain.

    I like some of the suggested items. I always try to have a few small safety pins on me. Just handy. I don’t smoke so don’t carry a lighter most of the time. My bob’s all have lighters and a lot of these items. My husband is fond of Cliff Bars so there are some in every bag. His daughter works at the factory where they are made and she brings him cases of them when she comes to visit. They are too rich for my taste but in a survival situation I’d eat them gladly. For my bags I consider what would work best. I don’t like fire starting with a hand drill but the strikers and lighters work and are cheap and easy. I have a striker in every bag and most have a lighter. All have matches, Vaseline and cotton balls. Those are multi purpose.

    We used our stored food during a hard time while moving. We seriously lived a year with buying just a few things. It gave me a better understanding of what we actually liked and would eat most of so that is what I’ll stock most of. I love veggies. Husband doesn’t. So those go in pints rather than quart jars. Pickles are 1/2 gal jars. Meats or sauces we used a lot of so those go in both pints and quarts.

    I keep hard candy in every bag. They are a quick treat, calm a scared kid, can change a mood… Many nice things and they are just $1 at a Dollar store. Same for containers of bullion cubes. A nice hot drink to sip on. A seasoning for your cooking. A soup base. And again just $1 each small container.

    A $1 cookie sheet can be a biscuit pan in a reflector over, a frying pan over hot coals et. A cheap lite weight sauce pot or stock pot can be packed in when moving and is invaluable when camping. A wooden spoon and wooden spatula would be all the utensils necessary. Metal ones are nice and lite as well but be sure to have something to hold them so you don’t get burned. A ladel for a pot or soup would be handy but a cup with a handle will do that job, you’ll want a couple of them anyway, and saves space. Those things are all available at $1 stores.

    Don’t forget aluminum foil and do reuse when you can. I usually make a reflector oven from foil and cardboard and keep it for reuse.

    A small shovel or folding shovel is great if you can have it. Dig a latrine, bury your fire after drowning it or letting it burn out. Make a fire pit. Many uses. I keep a folding shovel in my car. Usually there is an old long handled one in the truck. Handy if you get stuck. Spread kitty litter in winter for traction et.

    • Alan on May 14, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      Lots of good advice here. Thanks for sharing!

  7. john guthrie on May 14, 2019 at 11:31 am

    ALWAYS OVERLOOKED…….a bottle of multi-vitamins.

    • Alan on May 14, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      Good point! Without fresh produce, it’s hard to get enough vitamins. Canned and dehydrated foods just don’t have as much.

  8. Kandie Rosales on April 28, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Since I never carry all our eggs in one basket, dig several holes, hide small cache in easy to get to places, sneak back at night and retrieve what you can.

    • alvin d hickling on May 14, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Canadian prepper on line sells compresed toilet paper pills you dip in water very convient and important !

  9. Sarah on January 13, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    $Tree items
    Grommets, Twine, Tarp, hand warmer pks, pencils, Can Spray Paint (mark path traveled or to cover windows so u can see out but no one sees in) planner (keep track of days), Gallon bag kid friendly (deck cards, dice, crayons, coloring & small reading book, book light, pk of glow bracelet/necklace, play doh, trinket items ie hot wheel car, shopkin etc)
    Non $ tree but under $5

  10. chris clement on January 13, 2018 at 1:57 am

    piece of electric wire, needle (for splinter removal), bottle of water

  11. Judy on January 12, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I understand the important of all these items but if it nessary to leave your home how can one possible carry all that one would need.

    • Alan on January 13, 2018 at 8:36 am

      You couldn’t carry all of these unless you have a good vehicle, especially one that can go off road, but there are plenty of disaster scenarios where you could just stay at home and ride it out. Or you can store some of these at your bug out location.

    • Captain Iguana on January 13, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      First you assess your situation and your ability to carry things in a pack. Next you put together a kit that is versatile and contains items that have MULTIPLE uses therby negating the need to carry anywhere near all the items on any given list. If you don’t have an item to take care of your needs as you travel, you IMPROVISE, ADAPT AND OVERCOME any and all obstacles with ingenuity and positive, “Can Do” attitudes. Having a good attitude about survival is the absolute most essential ingredient of being able to survive in a crisis.

  12. Margaret Tombs on January 9, 2018 at 10:59 am

    What about a towel? Douglas Adams was right, you should always know where your towel is.

  13. George on January 4, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Paper clips and safety pins ?
    What ? , a low cost survival items list without these two near essentials.
    You can get a box of each for $ 5 , and i’m thinking in Canadian dollars…

    • Alan on January 5, 2018 at 6:30 am

      You’re right, I can’t believe none of us thought of those! This list could probably be a lot longer.

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