This post is a little different from my usual posts. If you’re already a prepper, I don’t expect this article to teach you anything new. Rather, I expect it to serve as a reminder of why we prep. I also hope that it can serve as a warning to those who don’t prep.
For example, you might think it’s unlikely that your home will ever be damaged or destroyed, but you still buy homeowners insurance just in case. It’s the same with prepping. Maybe doomsday will never arrive, but you never know. (And besides, doomsday is just one of many reasons to prep.)
And it’s not like we’re preparing for something that has never happened before. Millions of people die in disasters every year, economies collapse all the time, and terrorism is an ever-present threat. Sure, you might luck out where you live and never face a serious disaster. But then again, you might not.
Unfortunately, most people in the Western World are unfamiliar with history and current events, so they have no idea how common disasters really are. They assume they will always have access to modern luxuries: electricity, air conditioning, fresh water, affordable food, and so forth. Consequently, humans are more helpless than ever before. It’s gotten so bad that there are even teenagers who don’t know how to use can openers.
But they won’t find out how helpless they are until the SHTF. When that happens, people with no survival skills or emergency supplies won’t last long. They’ll quickly realize that a few basic survival items can mean the difference between life and death.
Here are 17 things people will wish they have and why (in alphabetical order).
1. Barter Items
Hyperinflation is the main reason people stock up on barter items, but there are several other scenarios where they could become necessary. Most people don’t carry much cash anymore, so if the power is out or the Internet is down, they’ll have no way to purchase anything. That’s where barter comes in.
You probably won’t be able to barter at the grocery store, but you could at least barter with your neighbors. If you are desperate for food but you don’t have any barter items, they might take pity and help you anyway. Then again, they might point their guns at you. It’s definitely better if you have something to trade.
More Info: 200 Items You Can Barter After The Collapse
2. Bug Out Bags
For most people, everything they own in the world is in one place: their home. But what if your home is destroyed? Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, house fires–all these things are guaranteed to happen again somewhere. What if your neighborhood is next?
These are just a few reasons why you need a bug out bag. Even the most experienced survivalists would be pretty miserable trying to bug out without any supplies.
More Info: Top 100 Bug Out Bag Items
3. Cooking Gear
Imagine your stomach is growling as you stare at a pile of food you can’t eat because it has to be cooked. Although many modern foods can be eaten out of the box or can, foods like pasta, rice, and some frozen foods are inedible if they’re uncooked.
If the power goes out, it will only be a matter of time before the all the frozen meat thaws out and starts to rot. When that happens, you’ll be wishing you had a way to cook without power.
More Info: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Without Power
In this day and age, most people never truly experience the cold. They just wrap themselves in a blanket and turn up the heater. But without power, you’ll need to build a fire if you want to stay warm.
This is more important than you might think. Every year thousands of people die from hypothermia, and that’s during good times! Also, don’t forget that many foods need to be heated up before you can eat them.
Speaking of fire, don’t forget fire extinguishers. After a long-term power outage, some of the people who’ve never cooked over a fire or used lots of candles are going to accidentally set their homes ablaze. And with no fire department to stop it, the fire will spread from home to home. Entire neighborhoods might burn down. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you may have to evacuate your home.
More Info: 15 Weirdest Ways to Start a Fire
5. First Aid Kits
Most people have no idea how fragile their bodies actually are. Millions of us would be dead right now if it weren’t for basic first aid supplies to keep wounds clean and prevent infections. And keep in mind that during disasters, injuries tend to skyrocket because of all the people climbing, doing manual labor, messing around with fire, and consuming contaminated food and water. If hospitals are overrun, people will have to help themselves with a first aid kit.
When’s the last time you were truly hungry? I don’t mean you skipped breakfast and now your stomach is growling hungry. I’m talking about the kind of hunger where your arms and legs are shaking with weakness, your stomach is in knots, and all you can think about is food no matter how hard you try to concentrate.
Most people have never actually been this hungry, but they will be if the SHTF. Grocery stores only have about three days of food on hand, a week at most, so you need to keep plenty of survival food on hand.
Gasoline is something we all tend to take for granted. We use it almost every day but rarely think about it (unless the price goes up a little), much less where it comes from. After the SHTF, gasoline will disappear very quickly. Just look at what happens to coastal cities when a hurricane is on the way.
More Info: 15 Fuel Storage Safety Tips
8. Gardening Supplies
Gardening supplies are essential if during a long-term disaster scenario. For example, if the economy collapses like it recently did in Venezuela, you could have a situation where food shipments are few and far between, or quality food is simply too expensive. People who can grow their own food won’t be nearly as hungry.
You should get some greenhouse supplies as well. A hoop house covered in plastic can significantly extend the growing season. There are countless DIY greenhouse plans out there. Most of them just take a little PVC and plastic sheeting, and they’re not that hard to assemble.
Heirloom seeds are another essential item. They need to be non-hybrid and open-pollinated. Why? Because if they aren’t, they don’t produce as much food or as many seeds, and they usually don’t taste as good (most seeds you buy in stores are hybrids). I recommend these survival garden heirloom seeds.
9. Lights & Batteries
Imagine looking out the window at night and seeing only darkness. Even worse, imagine a pitch black home where you can’t find anything you need and can barely see the faces of your loved ones. Not only would that be unsettling, it could also make you an easy target for burglars. Don’t let that happen, especially when there are so many ways to light your home when the power goes out.
Also, don’t forget batteries. You will need them not only for your flashlights but for any other electronic devices you might need such as radios or medical equipment.
Having no information of any kind from the outside world can be almost as frightening as not having lights. We are so used to having news delivered right to our phones, we forget how frustrating it is to be in the middle of a long power outage and have no idea what’s going on out there.
It’s even worse if we have no way to communicate with our loved ones. If there are people you care about in an area that’s been hit by an earthquake or hurricane, you will be overcome with worry until you’re able to get in touch with them. Don’t let that happen.
More Info: 3 Ways To Communicate Through The Apocalypse
11. Sanitary Supplies
Not only do you need to keep wounds clean, you need to keep your whole body clean. When the garbage trucks stop coming, trash will pile up in people’s yards which will attract bugs, rodents, and disease. And when the water stops flowing, people won’t be able to properly clean up after meals or bathe themselves.
Those who don’t know what to do with waste will keep using their toilets and stink up their houses. Eventually, once-clean neighborhoods will be as filthy as the streets of a third world country. In this environment, many people will get sick and die from infections and deadly diseases that could have easily been prevented with proper hygiene.
12. Survival Books
Without the Internet, people will have a hard time figuring out how to do basic things. They’ll wish they’d bought some of those survival books they’ve seen online or at the bookstore.
I know some people who argue that a true prepper should commit survival knowledge to memory and practice survival skills on a regular basis so they don’t have to refer to books. I completely agree, but no one can learn everything. Even the most experienced preppers can keep learning new things.
And besides, what if you just started learning about survival a few months ago and the collapse happens tomorrow? Or what if after the collapse, you have friends and family with so many questions you don’t have time to answer them all? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could refer them to your survival library?
More Info: 100 Best Survival Books of All Time
13. Sewing Supplies
In a long-term disaster, it’s possible there won’t be any clothes left in the stores. More likely, however, is you simply won’t be able to afford them. This is what happens during economic depressions–many people live hand to mouth and can’t even gather enough money for new socks.
But back in the day, people didn’t throw away a sock just because it had a hole in it. They would actually repair their socks (it was called darning). They would probably scoff at the idea of throwing away a perfectly good sock with one little hole. After all, they’re not very difficult to repair.
If there’s another great depression, people will have to learn how to start sewing again so they can repair their torn clothes and even make new clothes out of sheets, curtains, and any other fabric they can find. And to do that, they will need sewing supplies.
This is more of a skill than a thing, but it’s a very important skill. If you have to bug out and you find yourself in the wilderness, one of your top priorities is to build a good shelter. That last thing you want to do is curl up under a tree while the cold air nips at your face and dampness from the ground seeps into your clothes. Do that, and you risk getting hypothermia.
15. Tools & Home Repair Supplies
After a disaster such as a hurricane or an earthquake, you will probably need tools to repair things around your home. Hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, shovels, saws, and so forth. Even if your home doesn’t get damaged, you still may want to lend tools to your neighbors, or you may want to board up windows to stop potential intruders, or you may simply need an ax for chopping firewood. You never know.
You will be shocked by how quickly thirst sets in once there’s nothing to drink. If the power is out for too long, the tap water will stop flowing. And unless you’re able to collect rainwater, you’ll die of thirst in just a few days.
Even if the water is still flowing, you could be facing a disaster where the water is contaminated. The last thing you want to do is drink water that makes you and your family sick, especially if the hospitals are overrun. So make sure you stock up on water and have at least two ways to purify water.
More Info: 8 Fastest Ways to Purify Water
Every time there’s a riot or a widespread disaster, some people take advantage of the situation and start looting. If the event lasts a long time and the authorities are unable to restore order, you can bet the looters will move from the commercial areas to the residential areas. Especially if they’re starving.
This is why you need to have a good weapon for self-defense, preferably a firearm. Don’t stand there helplessly as criminals kick in your door, attack your family, and steal the things you need to survive. If possible, prevent this from happening in the first place by putting some good home security measures in place.
More Info: 5 Best Guns for Home Defense
As I said in the intro, I don’t expect preppers to learn a whole lot from this article. But every now and then we need reminders like this to keep us motivated. And if you’re not a prepper, then hopefully this article will give you the push you need to get started. Here are a couple of articles you should read: