For most people, prepping starts with the idea of stockpiling some supplies “just in case” of an emergency. Somehow or other, they realize that if something serious should happen, what they have in their homes isn’t enough to get them through. So they decide to join the fastest-growing segment of our society, that of the preppers.
Of course, that immediately raises the question of “What should you stockpile?” a much harder question to answer than most realize. The thing is, we’re stockpiling for an event, without really knowing what it is that we’re stockpiling for. Since we don’t know what that event is going to be, it’s difficult to understand what it is that we’re going to need. However, there is some commonality of needs in just about any disaster, giving us a good starting place for building our stockpile.
One other question that exists is how long a period of time we will need to prepare for. Once again, that’s an almost impossible question to answer, for the very same reason. Without that crystal ball, we don’t know what sort of disaster we’re preparing for.
Let me say this though, the disaster itself is not usually the problem. Most disasters are over in a matter of minutes, hours or at the most days. What takes time is the recovery period after the disaster. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, there were people who didn’t have electricity or supplies for as much as six weeks after the hurricane hit. Their bigger problem wasn’t surviving the hurricane itself, but the time afterward as they waited for the infrastructure we all depend on to be restored.
This recovery time can extend much more than those six weeks. If our country were to be attacked by a high-altitude EMP, the recovery time may very well last into the years. Somehow or other, we’d need to keep ourselves going for all that time, without the benefit of the supply chain or infrastructure that we are all dependent on.
As we select the supplies to stockpile, we must be sure that the supplies we choose to align with our survival priorities. This may seem overly simplistic, but I’ve seen lists of survival supplies that included such things as board games and books to read. While those are nice things to have, they aren’t survival priorities. Rather, they are things we may want to add to our list, once the basics for survival are procured and stored.
Top things you and I need to stockpile
With that in mind, let’s look at the top things you and I need to stockpile:
- Water, and water purification devices
- Non-perishable food
- Fuel to heat our homes, most likely firewood
- Someplace to burn the firewood
- Fire starters
- An alternative means of cooking
- Candles, oil burning lamps and oil for those lamps
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Extra blankets
- Personal hygiene supplies
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- Toilet paper
- Lime (in case you have to dig an outhouse)
- First-aid supplies
- Over the counter medicines
- Antibiotics (may be difficult to procure)
- Prescription medicines for family members with chronic conditions
- Firearms and ammo (lots of ammo)
- Alternative weapons
- Cleaning supplies (a dirty home attracts pests)
- Pest control supplies
- Plastic bags of all sizes and types
- Heirloom seeds (for starting a vegetable garden)
- Home repair materials for emergency repairs
- Clothing (larger sizes for your children and rugged clothing that will survive physical work)
I now that list might seem a bit daunting, especially when you consider that many of those line items are groups of things, not just one single item. But if you look at it, you won’t see a single thing that isn’t really an absolute necessity in a survival situation. The fact of the matter is, we humans need a lot in order to survive.
But there’s no reason to panic; you don’t have to do all that today. Rather, this is the goal you’re shooting for. What you want to do is start stockpiling, with the goal of having everything you will need. Each thing you manage to stockpile improves your family’s situation and the likelihood of their survival; and that’s the goal, after all.
A good strategy to use is to start by establishing a goal of having everything you need to survive a month. Then, once you’ve done that, you can go on to expanding it to two months, then three; continuing month by month until you have enough.
How much is enough? Again, there is no real answer, but most preppers eventually try to get to the point of having a year’s supplies on hand. As part of that, the more experienced preppers work out a plan for sustainability, developing ways to provide what they need for themselves, should a true TEOTWAWKI event occur and things don’t return to normal. More than anything, that means the ability to harvest water and produce their own food.
Keep in mind that you will need to be able to store all these supplies in your home or survival retreat, somehow. So you may find that you are limited in your ability to build a stockpile, by the space you have available. People who live in apartments are hit especially hard by this, as the average apartment doesn’t have enough storage space.
People deal with this problem in a variety of different ways, such as creating extra storage space at home, buying a shipping container to use as a warehouse, renting a storage space for their supplies or splitting their supplies up between multiple locations. What you actually do will depend a lot on your personal situation.
One thing that I left off that list, which you may want to consider, is trade goods for bartering. When Argentina had their financial collapse of ’99, there were shortages everywhere. Because of high inflation, the nation’s money became worthless, with people and businesses refusing to accept it. What took its place was a barter economy, with many people joining local bartering co-ops to trade for food and other critical supplies.
Considering that a financial collapse is one of the likely scenarios to hit our country, it makes sense to have barter goods on hand. The same goods would be useful in any major disaster which causes a breakdown in society.