There are all kinds of places to get survival items such as Goodwill Industries, Deseret Industries, thrift shops, estate sales, yard sales, garage sales, fundraisers, pawn shops, flea markets, moving sales and Internet sites such as Craigslist, Half.com, eBay and Amazon.
Every Saturday during the good-weather months, I sneak off in the mornings to see what I can find at the local yard sales. I am always on the lookout for things like camping equipment, sleeping bags, wool blankets, backpacks and medical supplies.
I am also stockpiling emergency supplies, canning supplies, medical supplies, lighting, garden tools, hand tools, fishing equipment, warm winter clothing, bedding, fuel, guns and ammo. Whenever I find a bargain, I add it to my stockpile.
You can find myriad useful survival items at garage sales and thrift stores. I love garage sales, and I always find good stuff — like the time I found a Vitamix for $25 and a Champion Juicer for $50. My last great find was 10 oil lamps still in the package for $3 each; I bought them all.
The following categories include a list of items that can be found secondhand and will save you money.
Emergency food storage and survival books. People sell books cheap. Look for cookbooks that have recipes for using dehydrated foods, canning, cooking with a Dutch oven, and making simple pioneer and outdoor-cooked meals. The recipes should include simple ingredients that almost everyone would have in their pantry. Half.com, eBay and Amazon all have many books to choose from that would be a great resource for emergency and survival. I have written several books on the subject, check them out at www.peggylayton.com.
Camping, hiking and fishing equipment. Be on the lookout for camping items such as backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, heavy-duty cord, tuck tape, a propane camp stove, charcoal grills with charcoal, foam bed rolls, cots to sleep on, coolers and kitchen equipment such as Dutch ovens, cast-iron pots and pans, military mess kits, good knives, utensils, and a hand-operated can opener. I look for 5-gallon buckets because they come in handy for all kinds of situations. Portable toilets are nice to have, too. Duct tape serves many purposes and should be in every stockpile of emergency supplies. Look for fishing equipment such as: tackle boxes, fishing poles, reels, lures, flies, nets, an ice cutting auger, ice fishing tent, chairs and equipment. And a good sharp knife is also a great find.
Canning equipment and jars. My latest find was two water bath canners for $10 each. One was a smaller canner for pints and the larger one for quarts. Other canning items include jar lifters, funnels, tomato juice extractors, juice cookers and big pots.
I usually pick up canning jars at garage sales for 25 cents each or less. Canning jars come in half-pint, pint, quart and half-gallon sizes. Look for jar rings to go on the canning jars to hold the lids on tight.
Emergency radios.Wind-up emergency radios, battery-operated radios with batteries, ham radios and scanners will help tremendously in an emergency. A radio or scanner is your link to the outside world. What is happening in any emergency can be heard on these types of radios. Look at pawn shops for this type of equipment.
Garden and hand tools. I have a hand cultivator for my garden. I got it secondhand. It is at least 50 years old and is still in good working condition. Look for garden tools like rakes, shovels, manual lawn mowers, loppers, hoes, pitchforks, crowbars and wood-splitting tools like sledge hammers, axes, hatchets, wedges, etc.
Hand tools you can look for include hammers, manual screwdrivers and any other tool that would be nice to have in a survival situation. If you can find a chain saw, get it along with the oil and fuel to run it. Also, look for a gas-driven generator along with gasoline storage containers.
Guns and ammo. Most pawn shops carry guns and ammo at a reasonable price. People get down and out and need quick cash, so they pawn their guns. You can get hunting rifles as well as handguns this way. Look for gun cases, gun-cleaning kits, clay targets and decoys. Other hunting items to look for include crossbows, arrows and insulated camouflage clothing.
I look for food dehydrators, bread makers and wheat grinders because sometimes people are getting rid of things they haven’t used for a while. These items are very valuable and can be found at bargain prices. There are solar food dehydrators as well as hand wheat grinders. My bread maker has an attachment for a hand crank so if the power goes out I can still make bread. Many other kitchen items can be found secondhand.
Lighting and fire-making equipment. Look for battery-powered flashlights, solar-powered flashlights, lanterns, spotlights, oil lanterns and candles. Don’t forget the batteries, matches, butane igniters and lighters. Be sure to get the fuel for the lanterns, wicks and mantles. Flint and steel can be found in my purse at all times.
Medical kits. I am always on the lookout for medical supplies. I found a complete suture kit at a yard sale once. This summer I picked up medical-kit bags that were empty but brand new. I will fill them myself and keep one in my car, home and business. Items to look for are new boxes of bandages, butterfly strips, sterile gauze, first-aid tape, surgical scissors, unopened boxes of Depends, waterproof sterile bed pads, walkers, wheelchairs, crutches and medical scooters. I have even seen unopened first-aid medical kits for sale. If it is an estate sale and the person was being attended by an in home nursing program, there will most likely be medical supplies at the sale. Just ask for what you want, and they might have it.
I keep ION (stabilized oxygen) in my medical kit at all times and in my purse. It kills bacteria on contact and treats 110 gallons of water per bottle.
Warm clothing, winter boots and warm blankets. I look for warm winter gloves, socks, scarves, jackets and coats of all sizes. I get larger-sized items so if the grandkids grow, they can still wear the items. I store winter boots for everyone in the family as well as good shoes to walk or hike in. Just in case we had to walk a long way, I make sure they are comfortable and heavy duty.
I look for wool blankets because they are so warm. You can use them inside a sleeping blanket or on top. They are getting hard to find, so you might have to ask whether any are for sale.
These ideas came from the book Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton. Check it out at www.peggylayton.com.