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Stockpiling for a disaster is all about making sure you have what you need when everything goes wrong. We don’t know when that will happen or what disaster we will face; but the chances of facing a disaster sometime in our lives is nearly 100%. With that in mind, stockpiling only makes sense.
Most preppers start out by stockpiling food, but it doesn’t take long for most to broaden their horizons and start adding other things to their list. There are so many things we use on an everyday basis which we don’t really need for survival, but there are also many things we will need. The trick is sorting out which are which and making sure we stockpile the right ones.
Then there are things which we might want during a time of crisis, but which we can’t stockpile in normal ways because they don’t keep. Stockpiling those things just creates a disposal problem for us in the midst of a crisis. So rather than helping us survive, all they do is make survival harder. Some might even be dangerous if kept for too long.
Here are some items you want to avoid stockpiling, mostly because they will go bad, but also because they aren’t going to help you survive.
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1. Frozen Food
I’ve seen a number of people do this, and I just can’t understand it. It doesn’t take much of a problem to cause the power to go out. It doesn’t even take a disaster. All it takes is a good storm. Yet, there are a lot of people who like to fill the freezer, “Just in case.”
I’m not talking about buying meat because of the COVID inspired shortages; it made sense to fill the freezer up for that. But that’s also not a long-term situation; it’s a short-term one. I can think of no long-term scenario where there will be a frozen food shortage and the power will still be on.
2. Junk Food
We all love our snacks, but they don’t have a whole lot of nutritional value to them. Stockpiling Hostess Twinkies or potato chips just so your family has them seems like trying to ignore the reality of the survival situation you’re facing. They’ll be able to eat all the junk food they want, but they won’t receive the nourishment they need.
Those foods don’t stay fresh for long anyway. Even though they are packaged to keep them fresh, that’s based upon an assumption of short-term use. Those companies don’t expect it to be in someone’s stockpile for five years. If it doesn’t go bad in that time, that just means it’s all chemicals and not real food anyway.
3. Breakfast Cereal
While breakfast cereal is a normal part of many families’ diets, it doesn’t store well. Breakfast cereal can and does go stale; and it really doesn’t take all that long for it to do so. It’s rather bulky too, making it take up an inordinate amount of space. You’re better off stockpiling oatmeal, as you get a whole lot more nutrition, it won’t go stale, and it will take up much less space.
The same problems exist for most types of crackers that exist for breakfast cereal. There are some crackers that don’t go stale and don’t take up a lot of space, usually the harder ones. But are crackers really a dietary necessity? Better to learn how to bake bread and stockpile whole grains. Just make sure you have a really good grainmill that doesn’t need to be run off of electrical power.
While it would be great to be able to store a few hundred gallons of gasoline, it’s just one of those things that doesn’t store well for a prolonged period of time. Six months is about as long as you can store gasoline without it going bad; a year if you add fuel stabilizer. That doesn’t even come close to qualifying as “long-term storage.”
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try storing gasoline as best you can. Storing gasoline in metal containers is much better than storing it in plastic ones. I used to have a 55-gallon drum of gasoline in my shed before I had to move. This worked out great because it was a sealed metal drum. I kept gas in it for three years which seemed just as good after three years as it did the day I bought it.
The other thing to do with gasoline is to rotate your stock. It’s not really long-term storage, but go ahead and buy your gasoline. Then after a couple of months, burn it in the car, replacing it so that you always have fresh gasoline in your stockpile.
While gasoline won’t store well for a prolonged period of time, propane will store indefinitely. Nevertheless, I am against using propane as a survival fuel. My reason for this is that it takes special equipment to refill those propane tanks and the places where we go to get them refilled will most likely all be closed in the wake of a major disaster. So once we use up the fuel in those tanks, the devices that use that fuel are worthless. For that reason, I don’t consider them a good survival choice.
If you want to buy survival gear that burns propane, go ahead and do it. Just make sure you have backups that will run on fuel you’ll have an easier time getting. Either that, or you’re going to need to fill your back yard with 500-gallon propane tanks.
7. Medicines which Expire Quickly
Most of the expiration dates on medicines don’t mean much of anything as the medicines are still just as good a few years after those dates. More than anything, they are the last date that the manufacturer will guarantee the product, just like with canned foods. But there are some exceptions to that as there are some medicines which do lose their potency quickly, such as insulin.
The trick here is finding out which medicines lose their potency quickly. No over-the-counter meds do, but some prescription ones fall into this category. Many of those require refrigeration. But if you’re not sure, check with your pharmacist. They’ll either know or have the ability to find out for you.
8. Precious Metals
A lot of people talk about buying precious metals as part of their prepping plans. I’m going to be a bit controversial here and disagree with that. There is really only one potential disaster where stockpiling precious metals is useful and that’s a financial collapse. Owning precious metals in that situation is useful as a means of preserving wealth. In other words, if you have lots of extra cash, it’s better to buy silver and gold with it than to keep it in the bank.
Bartering is another reason people give for buying precious metals, but that just doesn’t make sense. While a post-apocalyptic economy might arise which uses silver for trade, nobody is going to be interested in silver as a barter item. Why would they trade food, which they need, for silver, which they can’t eat?
This one is more about balance than an outright objection. It makes sense to have some basic electronics in a Faraday Cage where it can be protected in the case of an EMP. But I see people who get carried away with this, stockpiling every sort of electronics you can imagine. What good are cell phones and tablets going to do in a post-apocalyptic world where there is no internet and no cell phone service?
About the only use for those items would be if there is information stored on them which will help you survive. In that case, make sure you have the means to recharge them as well. Otherwise, you’ll only be able to get to that information for a few hours.
10. Power Tools
Power tools are great things to own, but not as survival gear. I don’t care if you’re talking about gas powered or electric powered; they won’t do you a lick of good for more than a couple of weeks after the disaster happens. Both gas and electric powered tools need a lot of power to run them. So that chainsaw is going to go through your available stock of gasoline rather quickly, and the cordless saw will discharge the batteries your solar panels are charging just as quick.
Granted, there are things we can use those tools for now as part of our prepping, and it makes sense to buy them for that; but if you’re just buying them to keep in your stockpile, maybe as a “spare”, you’re better off buying manual tools that will do the same job.
11. Excessive Guns & Ammunition
This is another controversial can of worms. Guns and prepping go together; I get that. But my question is how much is enough? I see people all the time who are actually collecting guns and calling it prepping. But it’s not; it’s gun collecting.
We’re going to need guns in a post-disaster world. But just how many do you really need? If you have five shooters in your family or survival team, I can see one long gun per shooter and a sidearm. Some of your shooters might want to carry a backup sidearm and you might want a couple of extra long guns, either as spares or because they have some specialized capability that you want. Okay, so what about the rest of your guns?
If you have a collection of 40 or 50 guns, there’s no way that you’re going to be able to take them all with you on a bug out. You’ll have to leave them behind; locked up in a gun safe, but still behind. So within a couple of days of bugging out, those guns are going to be in the hands of the bad guys along with whatever ammo you’ve got for them.
Go ahead and buy guns and ammunition; but think through what you really need and try and control yourself when you go to the gun show or when a new gun comes out. Collecting is fun, but it’s not fun to leave that collection behind.
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