Household & Emergency Supplies
Air Mattress/Cot/Ground Pad- If you’re positive that you wouldn’t be able to sleep with a rock in your back on the cold, hard ground, then now is the time to prepare. These items could one day be your bed during an emergency, and would be a real luxury. Patch kits are available to keep air mattresses usable. In the meantime, these items are handy for unexpected guests.
Baby items- If you’re expecting, or prone to get pregnant easily items such as formula, cloth diapers, baby clothes, baby food, and bottles could be a blessing to have on hand. If you do not need these items after all, they would be excellent for use as barter to families who find themselves in this unexpected situation. For deliveries, it’s good to supply items like sterile scissors, strong silk thread, surgical soap, a nasal aspirator, etc.
Batteries- If you’re clever enough to store battery operated radios, lamps, flashlights and so on, you’ll never have too many batteries. Be sure to rotate them now, on an ongoing basis, as you use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator. Keep track of where batteries are in your home (remote control, clock, etc.) so you can use them if you run out during an emergency. Rechargeable batteries should not be your entire store because if there’s no power, then you will soon be out of luck.
Blankets- Native Americans used blankets as barter. Pioneers used blankets as heirlooms and wedding gifts. Hours were spent hand-stitching quilts. As blankets became tattered and worn they were put to good use as doors, rugs, tablecloths, and were made into coats. I don’t think, as you become prepared for whatever lies ahead, that you could ever have too many blankets. Especially if they are sturdy and warm. Just imagine how appreciative you would be for each blanket on a freezing night, especially if you and your children are sleeping without electricity or even outside. If you did end up with too many blankets, there would be a demand for them I’m sure.
Bleach- This is an inexpensive storage item that is quite valuable. It can help you have a purified water supply, clean clothes, and disinfect almost anything. Don’t buy a more expensive name brand. Bleach is bleach. Also, avoid bleach with a fragrance added.
Bug Spray/Insect Repellent- These may one day be your only line of defense against those pests who often carry diseases. Mosquito netting may be a good investment as well.
Camp Shovel/Hatchet/Hammer/Saw/Axe- If you are living in the great outdoors, or in reduced circumstances, you’ll need the tools to help you survive. Digging latrines or cooking pits, chopping wood, setting up tents and clotheslines may be daily activities sometime in the future. Even if you’re living in your home, but are unable to use the toilet because of lack of water, you’ll need to dig a substitute one.
Cast Iron Skillet/Dutch Oven- I love my cast iron skillet! Get a good one and learn to use it now. Iron skillets work well over a campfire if they are seasoned. They retain heat and cook evenly.
Candles- Quick and easy to use. Portable. Takes no batteries, kerosene or electricity. Be sure to store candle holders too! Smokeless, dripless tapers are nice, but big, wide candles last longer. Votive candles aren’t as good because they don’t last very long. The best idea is to just not bother with the fancy ones. Get utilitarian 100-hour emergency candles.
Clothes- Sturdy, well-made clothes for all seasons are important to have for each member of the family. If you have growing children be prepared with sizes to accommodate their growth. Remember that fashion will not matter. Quality and fit will mean much more. Thick socks and sturdy shoes are excellent to have. Extra pairs might want to be considered. Work gloves, winter gloves and hats, extra shoelaces, dependable wristwatches, winter coats, warm pajamas, and so on are all very good items to have on hand. Be sure to have each item for each member of the family.
Clothesline/Clothes Pins- Back to basics. When clothes get wet, or hand washed, you’ll need a way to dry them to prevent mold for forming. Clotheslines can also make temporary shelters with sheets, blankets, tarps, and tablecloths draped over them.
Dish Pans & Dish Drainers- Most of us have been spoiled by automatic dishwasher and don’t’ have these useful things on hand. These will become important to having clean, sanitary dishes and pots and pans if you are without power. Also, if water is in short supply, the dish-panful of water would have to last. These can be used indoors or out. They don’t cost a lot, so they are a good investment.
Garden Seeds- Be sure to store non-hybrid seeds to get the maximum amount of harvest after the first year. Store seeds in a dry place. Growing your own fresh produce is a wonderful addition to a stored diet and allows you to survive on a more permanent basis. Make sure to store enough extra water to keep your garden growing through dry times. Never water your garden in the heat and light of mid-day. Include herbs in your garden. They add flavor to all meals and often have medicinal qualities.
Grinder or Hand Mill- This is a necessary item to have to grind wheat or other grains, into flour or meal, if you have them in your food storage. Though expensive, electric grinders are easy and fast. Hand mills are good when there’s no electricity.
Kerosene- Return to the old days. What worked for your grandparents will work for you. Kerosene stored for a long time. Be sure to keep it upright. If you store kerosene, make sure you have lamps to use with it, and visa-versa.
Liquid Dish Soap- Versatile product. Besides washing dishes, it can wash clothes, camping gear, shoes, floors, and hands.
Lysol- (or other disinfecting spray) This is a great way to control germs (& odors) which can cause disease. Great caution must be taken, however, not to get any on food or food preparation areas, or where children or pets could get it into their hands (or paws) or in their mouths.
Matches- Long-handled fireplace matches are great. Also, any wood match is good. They should be stored in watertight containers. Flint, fire-starting stones are very handy with limitless uses. You should also try to store at least some waterproof matches. These are good in 72-hour kits.
Means of Mobility- Be creative. Bicycles, wheelbarrows, handcarts, wagons, etc. You need to think ahead of what you might use to transport yourself and your supplies in an emergency. You may want to store repair supplies like extra inner tubes, tire patch kit, etc.
Paper Plates/Cups/Bowls & Plastic Utensils- When water becomes scarce, and sanitation is a problem, these will be extremely important to you. The best and least expensive plates to store are the cheap, plain white ones sold in packages of 100 or more, often for less than a dollar. They take up little space and when used with re-usable plate holders they’re stronger than the bulkier, more expensive Styrofoam plates.
Paper Towels- These can be used as disposable towels, tissues, napkins, wash cloths, and toilet paper. Well worth the effort to save them.
Pencils/Pens & Paper- These will become more valuable and appreciated as access to them stops. You will want to be able write journals, recipes, notes, and reminders. If you find yourself home-schooling your children, paper and pencils would be invaluable. (Books too.)
Pet Food- If Rover or Fluffy are important members of the family don’t forget to store food for them. Be sure to use and rotate, especially dry food. Canned pet food stores quite a long time. Pets can also live on many regular food items you might have stored (especially if they’re hungry). Even beef or chicken broth. Though they may help the rodent population by supplementing their diet themselves.
Plastic Wrap/ Foil/ Wax Paper/Trash Bags/Ziploc Bags- Important items for food preparation and storage. Only unscented clear or white trash bags should be used to hold unwrapped food. All trash bags make good ground cover, emergency ponchos, equipment cover, and makeshift shelters. Foil is great for cooking in, or over, a campfire. Ziploc bags are versatile for holding food, matches, candles, first-aid supplies, even a dry pair of socks. Wax paper is good for food preparation work space.
Pocket Knife/Hunting Knife- Let your imagination tell you all the reasons why these are critical emergency storage items.
Radio- (Short-wave or transistor) Be sure it runs without electricity and is portable. A simple antenna is an added investment. This could be your link to the outside world in case of emergency.
Rope/Nylon Cord- This may turn out to be one of your most valuable supplies. Uses include everything from creating shelter, to emergency rescue, to a creative outdoor shower or latrine.
Safety Pins- Whether living in your home, or in the open, safety pins have limitless uses from clothing repair to first aid.
Scrub Brush/Broom/Bucket/Mop- Cleanliness and sanitation may one day be very important to keep you and your family healthy, as well as comfortable. Even living in a tent, a broom will be handy to keep the floor of the tent clean and dry. A simple twig, when stepped on, can cause a rip in the tent fabric. How much easier to sweep it out than to worry about repairing your tent.
Sewing Kit- The size and contents are up to you. For instance, if you have stored fabric you’ll need plenty of thread. But every household will need a sewing kit of some kind to keep clothes, blankets and towels in good repair. A smaller version is ideal for 72-hour kits.
Tarp- This is another versatile item. The more you have on hand, the more you’ll find uses for. A few ideas are: a ground cover, a shower, a tent, as well as means of protecting your firewood and supplies.
Toilet Paper- Do I even need to say how very important you might one day find this item to be? It could be quite valuable, in fact. I know that I would much prefer it over leaves and dirty scraps of paper. It will store forever if you keep it dry.
Towels- When you can’t do a load of laundry every day, and you and your family are trying to stay clean and dry, and when you are trying to keep pots and pans and dishes clean, you will treasure every single towel you possess. Especially if you lose or ruin any and are unable to replace them. Towels also make good throw rugs when living in a tent.
Travel Game/Deck of Cards- If you had no TV, movies, video games or libraries at your disposal, how much would you and your children appreciate a diversionary activity? Put a couple in your 72-hour kits. These items could be invaluable to keep children occupied while you are busy.
Vinyl Tablecloths- These provide more than just a clean eating area. They can be used as blankets, curtains, ground cover, and emergency shelters. They can also be made into raincoats or ponchos. In an emergency, they can be cut down to be placed around feet by tying a cord around the ankles to keep in place. Shower curtains can be used in similar ways to these tablecloths, though with less durability, thickness or warmth. Never throw away old shower curtains or vinyl tablecloths. They could still be quite useful.
Water- This is, without question, the single most important and life-saving item you could store! Besides being necessary to drink, it’s needed to wash clothes and dishes and to bathe in. It will need to be used sparingly because no matter how much you have, you’ll never know how long you must depend on your supply. I fear that long before people would start to panic over finding food, they will be desperate for water. Water can be stored in glass or plastic containers (except milk containers because they are biodegradable), and must have an airtight lid. A small piece of plastic wrap placed over the mouth of the container before you put the lid on helps keep the water fresh. You can use tap water plain if you change it once a year, or add a small amount of bleach or other commercial purification product before storing indefinitely. You can also boil water before using to kill germs and improve the taste. Try to store your water in a cool place. Don’t overlook the water in your toilet tank and water heater in an unexpected crisis. Waterbed water can be used for washing, but don’t drink it or use it on eating surfaces because of contamination due to the chemicals used in making the plastic lining.
Water Purification Tablets or Containers/Filter Pumps- An absolute must. These can be life-saving. They can help turn most unusable or questionable water sources into safe drinking water. These are especially vital when living “on the trail” or outdoors. Boiling water helps remove the bacteria too.