Stockpiling non-perishable food and water for an emergency is pretty much Job No. 1 when it comes to prepping. Following a disaster, you won’t last very long without water; and it won’t take long until you and your family get very hungry. But if food and water are all you have, you’re going to find surviving very challenging, especially if you’re forced to bug out when you thought you were going to be able to hunker down.
You could put together an endless list of non-food items to hoard for a crisis, but it’s best to be realistic about what you and other family members have room to store and/or possibly transport. While not comprehensive, this list probably contains more items than you’d want to collect, but it will provide you with a number of choices:
- A crank-operated radio could end up being your only link to announcements, including where aid is available, which areas to avoid and local weather alerts. Some radios can even charge your electronic devices.
- A fixed-blade knife is an important item to store. Your single-edge hunting knife with a 6- to 8-inch steel blade should include a comfortable handle and sturdy sheath. Add a folding lock blade knife and pocket knife to the mix.
- A strong, LED flashlight should be stored for each member of your family or party. Those flashlights might just be what gets you spotted by rescuers. At home, they’ll be a big help if the power goes out. Don’t forget extra batteries.
- Parachute cord (also called ParaCord or P-Cord) is a lightweight, yet strong, cord with multiple uses, including binding logs and any other materials you may need to gather to start a fire. It can also be used to pull heavy objects.
- Guns and ammunition are also essential. Having a large bore handgun and a shotgun should be enough. Make sure you have some cotton patches and cleaning solvent to keep your guns clean. Store at least 500 rounds of ammo.
- Several fire starters should be among your stash, including disposable cigarette lighters. Magnesium sticks are very reliable. Also, stockpile waterproof matches, charcoal and lighter fluid. A fire could save your life.
- A first-aid kit is essential. Include gauze, bandages, medical tape, burn salve, aspirin, ibuprofen, antibacterial ointment, cough syrup, finger splint, ankle wrap, wrist brace, anti-diarrhea medicine, suture packs and cotton balls.
- A quality compass from a sporting goods outlet will prove very important if you end up having to bug out. A military-style lensatic compass would certainly do the trick. In addition, store maps of the area among your gear.
- If you can’t find shelter during an emergency, you’ll want a military pup tent or a backpacker’s tent. A lightweight tent will provide you with temporary shelter from the elements until you can find something more permanent.
- A poncho serves multiple purposes. It’s good protection against rain and sun; and you can use it to keep other items dry, such as wood. And because they fold flat and don’t weigh much, they’re easy to pack among your gear.
- A backpack is a great way to carry gear while keeping your arms and hands free. Make sure the straps are wide so that they don’t cut into your shoulders and that the bottom is reinforced. It should also be water-resistant.
- Duct tape will serve you well in a variety of ways. Among its uses are repairing tears in a poncho or tent, making shoes waterproof, holding gauze on a wound, fashioning a cup to collect water and holding fishing hooks in place.
- A bandana has many practical uses in a survival situation. It’s good for sun shade, a dust mask, a head wrap, a pot holder, a hand or dish towel, a pillow, an evaporation cooler, a medical sling and a signaling device.
- Super Glue also has many uses, so pack several tubes. You can use it to repair a crack in a water bottle or canteen, protect finger blisters from infection, fix a broken knife grip, secure two pieces of wood or suture wounds.
- Sunglasses are a convenience on summer days, but they’re an absolute necessity in the winter to avoid snow blindness. UVA or UVB polarized sunglasses could save your eyes. Also, store a pair of safety goggles.
- Another item with multiple uses is lip balm. Use it to heal chapped lips and when you feel a hand or foot blister coming on, and spread it on your face in the cold to avoid heat loss. It can also help to prevent rust on knife blades.
- Vicks VapoRub not only relieves head, throat and chest congestion, but it soothes aching muscles, increases circulation, prevents infections from cuts and relieves headaches when rubbed on your temples. The odor wards off bugs.
- Thick garbage bags will also come in handy in a survival situation. They can be used for holding gear, or as a rain poncho, sleeping bag, sun shade or emergency buoyancy device when filled with air and tied tightly.
- Make sure you have plenty of water purification tablets, as a crisis could contaminate the local water supply. Drop one tab in a water bottle, shake it vigorously, wait 15 minutes, then shake it once more before drinking.
- Coffee filters can be used as paper towels, emergency toilet paper or disposable plates or bowls; and they can form a cold compress, bandage or funnel. They can also serve as covers for food to keep insects off.
- Aluminum foil is good for wrapping and preserving food that you’ve already cooked, as well as for wrapping vegetables, meat and fish that you’re cooking over a campfire. It can also be used as a wrap to keep bandages clean.
- Baking soda aids in extinguishing fires without wasting water and will deter ants and other annoying critters. It can neutralize garbage and sanitation odors, and you can sprinkle it in your shoes as a foot deodorant.