Your top priority as one concerned about preparedness is to make sure your family has enough food and water to survive during an emergency or disaster. While you won’t get far without this, exclusively storing food and water may leave you without key essentials in a disaster.
There are hundreds of items you could collect for every possible outcome. But to maximize time, money and space, you should think strategically about what you can reasonably store and even take with you if you need to bug out.
Items You Should Hoard for a Disaster
To help you get started, here’s a list of 27 items to consider adding to your stockpile. You may not need them all, but even a few can help you be better prepared.
Guns and Ammo
- Guns and ammunition are critical to protecting your family and supplies. Consider getting a large bore handgun and a shotgun, plus at least 500 rounds of ammo. Don’t forget cotton cloth and cleaning solution to keep your guns clean and in working order.
- Lighters, matches and magnesium sticks are all essential survival tools, whether you’re trying to cook, stay warm or even send a rescue signal. You may also want to include charcoal and lighter fluid.
- Propane and gasoline will be very valuable for cooking and transportation. For safety, store these away from your house, such as buried in your backyard.
- A crank-operated radio provides access to information such as where to get help, areas to avoid and incoming weather. Look for a radio that can charge other electronic devices.
- Make sure you have a working LED flashlight for each family member (plus extra batteries). These will help if you lose power or to get the attention of rescuers.
- A tent is a must for your bug-out bag. A lightweight backpacker’s tent or military pup tent won’t take up much space, and you can even use a tarp (which has other uses) with a taut line stretched between two trees.
- Since you can’t count on emergency services in a disaster, make sure you have several fire extinguishers on hand to put out fires at home.
- You’ll need a supply of iodine tablets to ensure you have clean water in an emergency. These could save your life if your water filter stops working.
- Knives are essential items for your stockpile. A fixed-blade hunting knife with a six-inch blade and a sturdy sheath is a great option, and you’ll probably also want a pocket knife.
- Parachute cord is an incredibly useful tool. This lightweight, durable material can do everything from binding logs together to pulling heavy objects to making a splint.
- You’ll need a sturdy backpack if you have to bug out. Look for one that’s water resistant with a reinforced bottom, plus wide straps that won’t hurt your shoulders.
- Your first-aid kit should include bandages, gauze, medical tape, burn ointment, aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea medicine, different types of splints and cotton balls. Vicks VapoRub is also useful for various ailments and can ward off bugs.
- In addition to preventing chapped lips, this handy little item can be rubbed on hot spots to prevent blisters from forming. You can also use it to prevent rust on blades.
- Having a quality compass is essential if you need to bug out. You’ll also want several maps of the area, and you should practice how to navigate with them.
- Bandanas are a multipurpose item for many situations. A bandana can become a sun shade, a dust mask, a towel, a sling and even a pot holder, among other uses.
- A poncho can protect you against the elements and can also be used to keep other items (like firewood) dry as well. They fold flat, so they won’t take up much room.
- Duct tape does just about everything. You can use it to repair a tent, waterproof or patch shoes, keep gauze on a wound or even make a cup. It takes practically zero space if you wrap a length of it around your water bottle.
- You can use super glue to repair things like a water bottle or knife handle, or even to seal up wounds and blisters.
- Sunglasses are an absolute must to protect against snow blindness when hiking in winter. Look for polarized UVA or UVB shades, and consider also storing a pair of safety glasses.
- Baking soda can extinguish a fire without wasting valuable water. It also neutralizes many odors, from trash to sanitation and even your shoes.
- Heavy-duty garbage bags are a multipurpose item you can use to store gear, provide shade, protect you (or your backpack) against rain and even make a flotation device.
- Coffee filters can become toilet paper, plates and paper towels, also working as a food cover to keep insects away.
- Foil is useful for storing cooked food, cooking over your campfire and keeping bandages clean.
- Floss is essential for preventing tooth infections, which can kill you. It can also be used as cordage.
- Feminine products will certainly be in high demand in a disaster, including as a bartering item.
- You’ll need a way to get into your canned food, and you’d be smart to have a few backups as well.
- Cat litter is useful in many situations, including getting a car unstuck that’s bogged down in mud, sand or snow. You can also sprinkle it in your emergency toilet to absorb odor.
While these items are helpful for survival and bartering, it’s important not to tell people about your stockpile because it could make you a target. There’s obviously a limit to how much anyone can reasonably store, but the more you have now, the better off you’ll be if (or when) disaster strikes.
Frank Bates, founder of 4Patriots LLC, is a contributing writer to Patriot Headquarters, a website featuring hundreds of articles on how to be more independent and self-reliant. He also offers Food4Patriots, a supplier of emergency food suitable for long-term storage, survival and emergency preparedness.