Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
The photos show up in the media just before or just after every sort of disaster. We see images of people lining up to buy emergency supplies. We also see “sold out” signs and rows of empty supermarket shelves.
Clearly, the time to stock up on these items is not when you need them, but well before you need them. If you are embracing a preparedness lifestyle, you already know you need to plan ahead to protect your family. You certainly don’t want to be one of those people wasting time and precious resources trying to find survival items at the last minute.
Whether it’s a natural disaster such as a hurricane or an earthquake, or a human-made emergency such as an act of war, most essential items will disappear quickly from store shelves. (In many crisis situations, stores may not even be open to serve the public.) As you build your emergency pantry, here are 50 items to consider stocking up on now – before it is too late.
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1. Aluminum Foil – Aluminum foil is an often-overlooked disaster supply item that is useful for all types of cooking and food storage needs. It also has many survival uses.
2. Animal Food – Don’t forget your pets and your livestock when it comes to stockpiling food. They will need water too.
3. Antibacterial Soap and Wipes – These will help you keep you clean while saving your precious water supply.
4. Baby Supplies – Do you have or are you expecting a baby? Diapers, wipes, and formula may be in tight supply during a crisis.
5. Baking Soda – This stuff is incredibly useful. You can use it for cleaning, deodorizing, and cooking.
6. Bandanas, Handkerchiefs – These items can help keep you cool and help breathe easier if air quality is poor. Bandanas also have multiple uses.
7. Batteries – Have a fresh supply of all the sizes of batteries you need. Rotate them out by expiration dates.
8. Bleach – Store the plain, non-scented kind with 4- to 6 percent hypochlorite for disinfecting items after a crisis.
9. Board Games, Coloring Books, Crayons, Playing Cards, Puzzle Books – Don’t neglect the fact that you will have significant time on your hands. Plan to have a supply of no-tech amusements available for your family. I recommend these board games.
10. Buckets and Containers – You’ll want food-grade buckets for collecting rainwater and other large vessels that are suitable for washing dishes, bathing and storing greywater. Five-gallon buckets are particularly useful.
11. Candles – Stock up on a supply low-burning candles. They are easy to store and have no expiration date. And here’s how to make an emergency candle.
12. Cash – If the grid is down, your debit card or charge card will be useless, and the banks may be closed. Have some money on hand at home to use in an emergency. Bartering some of the supplies on this list may also be an option.
13. Clothespins and Clothesline – You will need these items for their intended purpose, but they also may come in handy for use in building temporary shelters.
14. Cookstoves – You probably have one for camping, but you may want to purchase additional propane or kerosene powered cookstoves for use during an extended crisis. Don’t forget the fuel!
15. Duct Tape – You can’t too many rolls of this life-saver! Here are nearly 50 uses for it.
16. Extra Basic Clothing – Stock up on basic t-shirts, socks, and underwear in sizes to fit each member of your family. Sweatshirts and sweatpants are a good idea too.
17. First Aid Kits – See that you are well stocked in the following basic medical supplies.
- Pain relievers
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antibacterial ointment
- Band-aids, bandages and medical tape
- Safety pins
- Disposable sterilized gloves
- Gauze dressings
- Cold medicine
- Prescription medicine
18. Fishing Equipment – Fishing poles, lines, hooks, and lures will help put food on your table in an emergency.
19. Flares and Whistles – These items will help you attract the attention of rescuers if you need help.
20. Flashlights – You may want to purchase a few solar-powered flashlights as well.
21. Fuel – Fuel for your generator, vehicles, tools and your cookstove is essential to emergency survival. Lighter fluid, fire starters, and charcoal also will come in handy.
22. Garbage Bags – You really can’t have too many of these multi-purpose items. You can use them for storage, as make-shift tarps, as ponchos, and for many other things.
23. Garden Seeds – Growing your own food will be more important than ever after a crisis. Check your supply of garden tools and gardening gloves as well.
24. Gasoline Containers – Finding an open gas station will be sketchy in a crisis, but if you do, you’ll want to be able to bring gas back home or to a stranded vehicle.
25. Generator – Depending on where you live and your budget, you can choose from a permanent generator or a less expensive portable back-up model. (Also, make sure you have the necessary extension cords you need.)
26. Hand-Operated Openers – All those cans of food in your well-stocked pantry won’t do you any good if you can’t open them. Include hand-operated can openers in your emergency pantry.
27. Insulated Ice Chests – These coolers are suitable for keeping food and drink items from freezing in the winter as well as keeping things cool in the warm weather. Keep in mind that some of your essential medicines need to keep cool.
28. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lanterns – Speaking of fuel, those emergency lamps won’t do you any good if you don’t have the lamp oil to operate them.
29. Matches and Lighters – Look for the “strike anywhere” variety. You cannot have enough on hand.
30. Non-perishable Food – A well-stocked emergency food pantry should include rice, soup, beans, nuts, oats, flour, dried meat and fruit, and other long-lasting foods. Also, include sweeteners such as honey and sugar, cooking oil and basic condiments, such as salt and pepper. Here is a guide to emergency food storage for newbies.
31. Personal Hygiene Items – Feminine supplies, skin and hair care products – all will be in short supply after a disaster. Stock up on these needed items now.
32. Pest Control – Insects and rodents may be an increasing problem in certain disaster scenarios. Stock up on repellants, coils, and traps.
33. Portable Toilet – With a power outage and a water shortage, you will not be able to rely on your standard home toilet. A portable or pit toilet will make waste management possible. Here’s how to build one.
34. Propane – Just before and just after a disaster, propane cylinders will fly off the shelves. Stock up on what you need now.
35. Radio – With no internet and no TV, how will you get the news and weather information you need? A hand-crank radio is an invaluable piece of emergency equipment.
36. Rain Gear – Ponchos, waterproof boots and plastic sheeting are some of the supplies that will help you withstand rain and flooding.
37. Seasoned Firewood – Have a supply of dry wood for burning for warmth and for cooking.
38. Sleeping Bags and Extra Blankets – Compact emergency blankets are good to have in your car too.
39. Solar Charger – If your emergency is local or regional you’ll be able to keep your devices connected with the outside world with a solar charger.
40. Tarps – They are inexpensive and easy to store, and they will serve many uses in a disaster scenario. There’s a list of uses for tarps.
41. Toilet Paper – Yes, it’s a personal care item, but toilet paper deserves a line of its own. Don’t be caught short of this often-forgotten everyday necessity. Here are some toilet paper alternatives.
42. Tools – Keep your basic supply of tools clean and in good repair. You’ll want to pay special attention to the following items: saws, axes, hatchets, drills, screwdrivers and screws, hammers and nails, rakes, shovels, rope, twine, and wire.
43. Vinegar – This is an all-natural way to clean your home when you run out of cleaning supplies.
44. Water – We can only survive a few days without it. Yes, you can stock up on bottled water. However, for long-lasting emergencies, you will also need a water purification method such as treatment tablets, personal water filters, or a gravity-powered filtration system.
45. Weapons and Ammunition – Be sure you are well-stocked in supplies both for self-defense and for hunting for food. Pepper spray is another idea.
46. Winter Clothing – Since disasters can strike at any time of year, it’s a good idea to put aside a supply of warm hats, gloves, and scarves for an emergency.
47. Wringers, Washboards, and Buckets – You need these for washing clothes and towels. You won’t want to waste valuable fuel on powering your washer.
48. Writing Paper, Pens, and Pencils – If you’re used to using a keyboard, you will want to have “old school” methods of making lists, notes and reminders. You also may find journaling to be both useful and comforting during a crisis.
49. Zip Ties – Inexpensive to stock up on and so very useful in a crisis situation.
50. Ziplock Bags – Stock up on these bags in several sizes to keep food, medicine, and other small items safe and dry. These are also very useful.
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robert alan searcy says
in my bathroom i use TP once then i wash with my wet azzrag . this saves on TP and gets a person much cleaner .
f burgner says
Europeans have used them for many years and so do we – you can make one from a coke bottle, a cork and a bit of plastic tubing and it’s far better than toilet paper. That’s right, it’s a bidet. There is a commercial version in each BR and the one I described in each glove compartment to thwart the occasional diry trick by mother nature when you’re away from home. They are one of the greatest luxuries available.
There was a long standing joke in our family about my husband and his obsession with buying toilet paper and hiding it around the house in about every available nook or cranny. We were always finding packages everywhere. But now who’s laughing?
Diana Davies says
Neat trick I learned from someone who had a Sears Robuck catologue hanging on a string in the outhouse for toilet paper: crumple the paper in your hand and roll it between your palms to make it softer ????
Sounds like a joke but it’s true.we had an out house when I was a child This is what we did.The more you roll and work the page the softer it got.when the book was out then there was Spanish moss from the trees.shake well and use wisely, lol
Diana Davies says
Neat trick I learned from someone who used to have a Sears Robuck catalogue hanging on a string in the outhouse as a child: crumple the page up tight and roll it in your hands before use. That cracks the finish on the page and makes it softer . ????
Danielle Robidoux says
Just keep a surplus of the essential. When you shop spare an extra $25. A week an before you know you are all stock up.
Leann Smith says
Good list. But don’t let anyone tell you NOT to buy more than a couple of packs of toilet paper. What was missing from the shelves for MONTHS and was VERY hard to find? Yep… toilet paper. Everyone should have at least a couple of months worth on hand. Most people can shove the flat 12-roll packs under their beds….
Leah Gruen says
A lot of these items are good to have on hand no matter the circumstances. Idk about you but IMO I don’t like racing out to the market and fighting crowds for any reason. Whether its Black Friday, Hurricane season, or Covid-19. That’s why they say to keep track of dates. You keep a stock of things on hand and then restock when you need to. I have never run out of toilet paper, soap, or any other essentials during Covid-19. Why? Bcuz I’m a cut coupons. So I already had a stock. Stop putting a other people down. They are just trying to help.
most of these things like batteries only lasts for a year and gas in particular because the composition will start separating…
when something major happens most of these things will be useless, like radios because nobody will even be in the tower and/or the tower will be down etc etc
so much of this list makes NO sense at all…first aid should only be comprised of herbal meds and NOT health-destroying otc’s
Glenn. Gordon says
Hi, this is scary, I’m a little freaked, what do I, & we do? Some one mentioned: Matthew 24. This has to be some kind of hell ride, nightmare, ya/nay?
Rick Palmer says
Since this commonsense post was done pre covid 19 , you girl , should be buying lottery tickets. You have virtually listed every item that people panic bought , instead of keeping on hand . Folks as part of your NORMAL ( things have gone way beyond normal ) LIFE , these are the types of things that our grandparents , and great grandparents learned in the depression. Learn from this situation , and you won’t have to panic next time . Yes there will be a next time . There always has been , they just change the name .