Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
If there’s one thing central to prepping, it’s stockpiling supplies. In a very clear way, we’re a lot like Scrat, the squirrel in the cartoon movie series Ice Age. He was always looking for one more acorn, to fill that big hollow tree and make sure he would have enough for winter.
Granted, our stockpiles are a bit more complex than Scrat’s and we don’t use hollow trees; but there’s a lot of similarity in the motivation.
Considering what we’ve all lived through during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 and continuing on until today, we’ve seen one shortage after another.
From the way things look, not much is being done about them, and with other problems going on around the world, we’re likely to see ongoing problems for many years to come.
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We talk amongst ourselves about a “new normal” that comes after a TEOTWAWKI event. Well, even though COVID didn’t look like the end of the world as we know it, in many ways it qualifies. Things have changed, thanks even more to government reactions around the world than the pandemic itself.
While this might not seem at all like the “new normal” that we expected to find, at least the electricity works (most of the time) and there’s food in the grocery stores (even with some holes on the shelves). We’re not having to forage for food or scavenge for other supplies.
But that’s not to say that COVID is the only TEOTWAWKI event that we’ll experience in our lifetimes. Those living in Ukraine have been experiencing the second such event, with the invasion of their country by Russia.
It is unsure what living in Ukraine will be like after the war is over; but rebuilding is going to be a major part of the people’s lives, as they attempt to put their country back together again.
Regardless of what we face in the future, we are going to need the right sorts of supplies to make it through. That means getting those supplies now, while they are available. If they’re not available, that merely proves our need to get them whenever they become available.
The list of things we might need is literally endless. However, some of those needs may not be as great as others. For example, stockpiling cosmetics might seem important to some women, but in reality, that’s a luxury, not a need.
If we want to build our stockpile right, we should concentrate on our needs, not our wants. We’ll either have to learn now to live without those other things or how to make them for ourselves.
The best plan is usually to start with the basics and build up and out from there. That means starting out looking for the things you need the most, in order to be able to survive. That list is long enough as it is and includes anything from food to fuel. Let’s look at some key items to build up your supply of.
Probably the most basic supply item we can stockpile is water. The big problem we’re all going to have is trying to hoard enough water. That’s actually impossible, but we’ve got to try anyway, stocking up as much as possible.
But there’s no way that we can count on just the water we stockpile; it’s bound to run out. We’ve got to have some means of harvesting water as an ongoing operation, both for daily use and to replenish our supplies.
Whether that is via a well, rainwater capture or surface groundwater, it needs to be reliable and replenishable, as our need for water never ends.
2. Water Filters
Filtration is the most common means of purifying water for drinking. Most preppers have water filters, but I rarely run into anyone who has a good enough hoard of water filters.
All water filters have a limited life, unless they are fully back-flushable. Depending on the quality of the filter, they may need to be replaced as often as every few weeks.
With that being the case, how many filters do you need to have, in order to make it through one year? What will you do for water purification after those filters run out?
3. Chlorine Bleach
Unscented chlorine bleach, the normal kind that’s used for whitening clothes, is the best chemical water purifier there is. It’s so potent that government regulations require municipal water authorities to use chlorine to purify our municipal water.
A mere 8 drops of the bleach we use in the wash is sufficient to purify a gallon of water. Just stir it in and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes. Bleach is also useful as a general disinfectant for cleaning.
The problem with bleach is storage life. Sealed containers of bleach will last for about a year. After that, they lose about 20% of their effectiveness per year after that. This time can be extended by repackaging it into metal containers with a rubber seal.
Most preppers get their start with stockpiling food, and that’s something that never seems to end. A good food stockpile is essential for surviving anything more than a week or two. Considering the high probability of losing electric power in a crisis, that food has to be shelf-stable so that it will last without refrigeration.
There’s really no ideal amount of food to stockpile, but most preppers try to build their stockpile up to the point where they have enough to last a year. That will usually take several years to accomplish. Trying to do it in one year is like doubling your food budget for that time.
While it is a food item, it is helpful to think of sugar separately from other foods. Unlike vegetables and even meat, sugar is not something that most of us can grow at home.
You either need to grow sugar cane or sugar beets and both require a lot of processing. Adding an extra 50 or 100 pounds of sugar to your stocks can eliminate problems.
Salt is even more essential than sugar and can be almost as hard to get. We not only need salt as a part of our diet, but we need it for food preservation as well.
There are few salt licks on the surface anymore and it’s not easy to get salt from a mine. About the best option to us, in a post-apocalyptic world, is harvesting salt from the ocean.
Until we can do that, we need enough to preserve our food. Fortunately, hoarding an extra 100 pounds or even more isn’t all that expensive.
Spices used to be much more valuable than they are today and a major trade item for international shipping. Today, most of those spices are grown closer to home and those which aren’t come from nations with which we have regular shipping.
But what about when that shipping is not available? What will that do to the price and availability of spices?
Looking at a post-apocalyptic world, spices may be valuable once again, helping us to turn otherwise bland or even distasteful food into something more appetizing to our families.
8. Plastic Bags
There are so many uses for plastic bags of all sizes that we couldn’t list them. Yet these simple devices are something we tend to take for granted. When things fall apart and we can’t get them anymore, the bags we have in our home are suddenly going to seem very valuable.
There’s no such thing as building a stack of firewood that’s too big. People who heat with firewood typically go through four to six cords per winter; and that’s good hardwood firewood.
We will also need firewood for cooking, adding to that usage. Replenishing our supplies in a post-disaster world could end up being very hard, especially if we don’t have vehicles to use.
10. Fire Starters
To go with that firewood, we’d better make sure we have an ample supply of fire starters. That includes both the starters themselves and the accelerants that we might need to use to get damp or otherwise non-optimal firewood to start burning. Better to have things that are reusable many times, than just to depend on matches.
Gasoline will probably be around for a little while after a collapse, but stocks will eventually run out. The big problem is storing it for any prolonged period of time.
There are additives, which will take the normal six-month lifetime of stored gas and push it up to a year. To improve upon that, use metal gas cans rather than the plastic ones. When it runs out, it will be a long time before it comes back again.
12. Fuel for Heaters
If you have any sorts of space heaters that use other types of fuels, like kerosene and propane, you’ll want to build up a stock of fuel for them as well.
Those heaters are only useful as long as fuel lasts; so, the more you can hoard, the better. Make sure you have a plan for what to do when that fuel runs out.
13. Fuel for Cooking
Most of us will be cooking over wood in a post-disaster world, but if you have other plans, you’ll need a supply of whatever fuel your stove uses. I have a stove which will burn gasoline; but recognize that no matter how abundant gas is, it will quickly run out. Once it does, I’ll be switching to wood.
14. Aluminum Foil
Perhaps one of the most useful inventions in the kitchen is aluminum foil. Not only is it good for wrapping food up for storage, but also for wrapping it up to put it on the grille. Be sure to buy the heavy-duty kind, as it is more likely to be reusable.
15. Candles, Lamp Oil & Wicks
We will undoubtedly need to adjust our schedules to coincide more with the sunlight in a post-disaster world. But even so, there will be activities that need to be done in hours of darkness. That means having some means of producing light at night.
If we’re using a fire for heat, we’ll get a little bit of light off of it, but most wood-burning stoves don’t put out a lot of light. We’re going to need a combination of candles, oil-burning lamps, and flashlights. That means having the candles, lamp oil and spare wicking on-hand.
Good flashlights are highly valuable; but should not be counted on to be our only source of light. Eventually, we’ll run our of batteries, no matter how many we hoard.
17. Batteries & Rechargeable Batteries
That brings us to batteries. Fortunately for us, the major battery manufacturers have come out saying that their alkaline batteries have a 10-year shelf-life, news that seems to have been made just for preppers. You can buy AA and AAA batteries, in packs of 100, the most common sizes used in flashlights.
But don’t stop there; buy rechargeable batteries too, ensuring that you’ll have something to use when those alkaline batteries finally run out.
18. Solar Chargers
Speaking of those rechargeable batteries, the most secure sort of charger you can get for them are solar chargers. Even when everything else is out, we should still have solar power available to us.
Solar chargers are common for cell phones, but we need to expand out from there, being able to use them to recharge any small electronics. That may require some adapters or even using the solar chargers to charge 12 volt batteries, which can then be used to charge other things.
19. Hand Tools
Most people today do everything with power tools, rather than hand tools. That’s fine, as far as it goes, I use them too. But I also recognize that those power tools aren’t going to do me much good when the power goes out.
Yes, I can recharge them from solar panels, but that doesn’t work for a table saw or drill press. We’ll need to become accustomed to using hand tools again, to do things we now do with power tools. Best stock up on them.
20. Building Materials
This one may sound a bit strange; but I’m actually not suggesting that you build any buildings after a disaster. Rather, I’m suggesting that you have some basic building materials, such as 2”x 4”s and plywood, so that you can make emergency repairs to your home, should it become damaged in the disaster.
A lot can be done with some minimal materials, if you have them on-hand. On the other hand, if you need plywood to cover a hole made by a falling tree limb and don’t have it, price gouging will take you to the cleaners.
21. Repair Parts
Speaking of repairs, you need to think about what else might need repairing. Anything can break and if you need that thing for survival, you’re best off having some spare parts on hand, especially the ones that break more often.
22. Toothpaste & Toothbrushes
Personal hygiene is important for maintaining our health. That includes our teeth. If you think it’s bad going to a dentist to get a cavity filled; just thing how much more painful it will be if you can’t go, but need to.
While brushing is not 100% guaranteed to prevent cavities, it’s a whole lot better than not brushing, so stock up on toothbrushes and toothpaste now.
Maybe deodorant isn’t an actual survival necessity, but it will be a whole lot more comfortable surviving with others when we don’t all stink all the time.
Granted, no deodorant hoard is going to last forever, and the stick type that is so common today will dry up with time. Better to keep them in sealed plastic bags, in order to make them last longer.
24. Razor blades
Shaving is another unnecessary part of personal hygiene. Even so, there may be occasions where you choose to shave.
Having a bunch of razor blades in a box somewhere is a whole lot better than trying to shave with your hunting knife. You can get by without the shaving cream, using soap, but it’s hard to make your own razor blades.
25. Feminine Hygiene Products
Let’s not even bother to talk about how necessary this category is or isn’t. This is about making sure that the woman in the family are comfortable, which will go a long way towards their emotional state. Yes, there are other options, but it’s best to avoid them as long as possible.
26. Toilet Paper
Can you live without toilet paper? Yes. Do you want to live without it? I sure hope the answer is a resounding no. Considering the low cost of toilet paper, stockpiling it really makes sense. Besides, we don’t know when the next pandemic will come, with it’s associated run on toilet paper.
You might also want to consider some rationing strategies, when the time comes. I’m not talking about severe rationing, where people are only allowed to use one square of TP per trip to the bathroom.
Rather, I’m talking about finding a reasonable usage level, like three or four squares per swipe. You’re going to have to figure out what works for your family and then get everyone to buy into it.
Yes, you can make soap; but why make it if you can build up a nice little hoard. Save the soapmaking for when that runs out.
28. Cleaning Supplies
Keeping your home clean is going to be a challenge, especially when we consider the value of water in such a situation. You’re going to have to clean, to help keep pests down. But the less water you can use for that cleaning, the better.
Cleaning products that allow spills and such to be cleaned up without water will be very useful, as well as glass cleaner, floor cleaner, and those great products that cut through grease.
29. Laundry Soap
While a cleaning product, laundry soap really stands out in a category of its own. Yes, you can use regular hand soap to wash clothes, shaving off some from a bar. But it’s going to be hard enough to wash clothes by hand, without making the work any harder.
30. First-aid Supplies
There’s no saying how many injures you and your family will face, trying to homestead the old home. We’ll all be doing much more physical work than we’re accustomed to, meaning that we are much more likely to become injured.
With the difficulty of getting to competent medical help and the general shortage of medical supplies, we need to be ready to render first-aid for injuries, including larger injuries, ourselves. That means stockpiling enough to take care of several major injuries.
31. Over-the-Counter Medicines
Most over-the-counter-medicines really only deal with symptoms, rather than curing illness. Nevertheless, taking care of those symptoms is important, allowing us to continue working. Stock up on pain relievers, antihistamines, stuff for diarrhea, decongestants, cortisone cream for itching and more.
32. Prescription Medicines
If anyone in your family need prescription medicines for chronic conditions, you want to have as much of a hoard of those medicines as possible. If you can’t get enough through your doctor and pharmacy, it might be worth taking a trip to Mexico, where many of those medications are available over-the-counter.
The one category of medicines that we all should have is antibiotics. Those generally require a prescription, but can also be bought in the pharmacies in Mexico. You can also stockpile prescription meds from veterinary sources.
34. Diabetes Test Supplies
Any diabetics in the family will need testing supplies. They may not have their medications available; but adverse (high) sugar readings can be dealt with through exercise or just not eating.
35. Herbal Remedies
Eventually we’re all going to need to go back to herbal medicines, the root of modern pharmaceuticals. May as well get used to the idea now, finding out what herbs will help with the kinds of problems that you face.
Many of these can be grown in your own garden. Just be sure to buy a good guide book, so that you know what to grow and use.
This one might seem a bit obvious; but I’m not just referring to ammunition for your firearms. If you are planning on using any alternative weapons, like a bow, you’ll want to have spare ammo for that too. How many arrows do you need? How many will you lose? How many will become damaged?
37. Fishing Gear
Fishing is one of the easiest means there is of harvesting food from nature. But most people’s idea of a survival fishing kit is 20 feet of line, two hooks and a bobber.
You’d better count on a lot more than that, so that you’ll still have something to use when you start losing stuff. I’ve never gone fishing without losing hooks, bobbers, weights and lures. I doubt it will get any better after a disaster.
38. Alcoholic Beverages
If bartering is part of your survival plan, then you’ll want to have barter goods as well. Anything I’ve listed above will work for barter goods; but the absolute best barter goods feed people’s vices.
In other words, people will barter for a good drink, long before they’ll let something go in exchange for a meal. Buy your alcohol in small bottles, as they are like smaller bills, easier to trade.
39. Tobacco & Rolling Papers
Alongside of alcohol is tobacco for the smokers. Cut tobacco and rolling papers will keep much better than manufactured cigarettes.
The last thing to hoard is information. We should all be building our survival library, containing books and articles that provide us with valuable information that we’re going to need.
We can’t count on the internet being available after a disaster; we’ve got to have something to fall back on. That’s the books we buy and the articles we print out and put into notebooks. Organize them well, so you can find the information when you need it.
As part of those notebooks, be sure to buy or download maps of the surrounding area, including both road maps and topographical maps. You’re going to need to get around, and I doubt your GPS will be working.
Add warehouses and other locations that might be good sources of supply to those notebooks, so that you’ll know where to find things when you need them.
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