We live in very volatile times, times that are marked by increasingly horrific weather events, water scarcity, financial instability and in many cases, civil unrest. What does this mean for us? It means we need to live in a state of preparedness. That doesn’t necessarily translate into being a “hardcore prepper,” but rather just being aware and understanding what it means to be prepared.
Of course, when you hear the word “stockpile,” you will undoubtedly think first of food and water. While having enough food and water is paramount, it is not the only thing that you should consider. Here are 12 other things that you may want to add to your stockpile list.
1. Fire-making materials
In many situations, hypothermia is a greater risk to survival than either dehydration or starvation. Knowing how to make fire with stones, sticks and other found materials is a definite asset, no doubt. But having a stockpile of essential fire-making supplies can make things much easier.
Matches in waterproof packs and some tinder can help you start a fire without much effort. You may be able to find some dry firewood, but don’t count on it. Better have a stash of charcoal and some commercial firewood or manufactured logs. They can keep a fire going for longer — whether it is just to keep you warm or to help you cook food and keep away wild animals and insect pests as well.
2. Essential medical supplies
Even minor illnesses and injuries can complicate things when we are already deprived of basic necessities. We should be prepared for at least the most common medical problems, if not all. Disinfectant to clean cuts and bruises, cotton swabs, gauze and ready-to-use bandages should be part of every survivalist’s first-aid kit.
Since access to drug stores and medical personnel may be limited, all the essential prescription drugs you need for any specific health issue should be stocked. You also need to have drugs to treat fever, pain, inflammation and allergies. Aspirin and acetaminophen can help reduce fever and pain, but you may need to stock ibuprofen to treat inflammatory conditions. An EpiPen can be lifesaving in severe allergic reactions from insect bites, but you can ask your physician for oral anti-allergy drugs, too.
As mentioned before, cold weather can be disastrous if you are not prepared. Warm clothing helps to conserve body heat, and with enough layering you can even survive freezing temperatures. Build up your survival wardrobe with several types of clothing instead of a bulky jacket or two. The air trapped between the layers provides better insulation. More importantly, you should be able to peel off layers when it gets warmer. If you sweat inside the thermal wear, the wetness can conduct heat away from your body, increasing the risk of hypothermia in spite of your bulky outfit.
Stock up on thermal underwear and several woolen-mix shirts that you can wear under a jacket with synthetic fiber lining. A waterproof layer on the outside is a must to prevent your clothing from getting wet in snow or sleet. Have woolen caps to protect your head and ears, sturdy hats with wide brims, warm mittens, socks and waterproof high boots.
4. Sleeping bag
A well-insulated sleeping bag can be a great asset in a survival situation. It can keep you warm through the night even in a poorly insulated makeshift shelter. In fact, it is a good idea to keep a backpack ready with a sleeping bag and the most essential supplies to last a week or two for every person in the family so that they can just grab it and take off in an emergency.
When you stock up on food and water, don’t forget to get some utensils for food preparation and serving. Disposable wares are ideal when you have to conserve water, but reusable plastic and stainless steel plates have some advantages.
Large pans or buckets can be handy for washing dishes and clothes. You also can use them to gather water and wild berries if you chance upon them. You need small cooking vessels for food and larger ones for heating water for baths and toilet use.
6. Hygiene products
Disease prevention is a more sensible approach than treatment any time, but when medical facilities and supplies are scarce, it becomes all the more important. Maintaining personal hygiene with the limited resources available should be your priority in a survival situation. Toothpaste and a toothbrush should definitely make the list. But when water is at a premium, mouthwash would have a definite advantage.
Similarly, while stocking up on soap and shampoo, don’t forget alcohol-based hand sanitizers that have a better chance at keeping your hands clean when water is on ration. Bathing could be a luxury in such situations, so deodorants and wet wipes may have more practical value. Stock up on sanitary napkins and tissue paper. Industrial grade tissue papers may prove to be a better investment than finer products.
7. Bug repellents
When you live in a makeshift structure, the only thing that can protect you from bugs is bug repellent. While some bug bites cause nothing more than itching and tiny bumps on the skin, others result in severe allergic reactions that can become life threatening.
Many flying insects like mosquitoes, horse flies and sand flies can transmit deadly diseases. Ticks and fleas that live on animals can latch on to people; they could be carriers of Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Products containing DEET are quite effective in warding off pesky bugs, but if you prefer using organic products, stock up on lemon eucalyptus oil and citronella oil.
You can never have enough rope – a truly invaluable resource. A simple, yet sturdy shelter that can withstand the elements can be a rope stretched across two trees with a plastic sheet or tarp folded over it. A hammock high up on a tree with a rope ladder can be one of the safest abodes in the wild until a more elaborate structure can be built. More mundane uses include lines for drying anything from the skin and meat of animals to clothes. Stock as much paracord as you can. It is inexpensive, yet entirely invaluable.
9. Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly/Vaseline deserves a special mention for its versatility. It can protect skin from dehydration and cracking, a big risk when you have to use your hands for a good amount of manual work in the absence of the little gadgets that make life easy. You can use it in place of moisturizers and lip balm. When used on insect bites and chafed skin, it relieves itching and soreness. When a barrier cream is not available, Vaseline can be used on a diaper area.
In a survival situation, petroleum jelly is useful as a fire starter. When mixed with cotton balls, it becomes excellent tinder that readily catches fire and burns for several minutes, giving you time to build up the fire.
In a survival situation, bleach is not used for its bleaching (whitening) power, but for disinfecting surfaces, utensils, tools and almost anything. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties are commonly used in swimming pools and hospitals. A tablespoon of household bleach in a gallon of water can give you a disinfectant solution that can help reduce the risk of infectious diseases. If you have to depend on groundwater from natural sources, disinfect it with bleach before use. Simply add six drops per gallon, but only use unscented bleach that has no colors added.
A tool box is as important as a first-aid box for survival preparedness. It should contain a flashlight, compass, whistle, signaling mirror, spark maker, pocket knife, can opener, fishing kit, and sewing kit, among other things. A Swiss army knife is a good investment. You can assemble your own tool kit or choose a suitable one from the ready-made survival tool kits available.
A few handy weapons and the skill to use them can be a big asset in any survival situation. Weapons are mainly for hunting animals for food and for protecting yourself from them. But that’s not all. At a time when anarchy reigns, you may even have to use them for self-defense. If you are not into heavier guns, a .22 caliber rifle or pistol can offer some security. A sturdy knife and a sharp axe should round off your weapon inventory.
While you may be not be thinking that a disaster will strike, being prepared is always better than not! Keep your eye out for good deals and make a little room in your stockpile closet for some non-food essentials.
What other items would you stockpile? Share your suggestions in the section below: