By Matt Alexander and Abby Libby
Preppers. They seemed crazy just a few years ago, but after the lockdowns of 2020, persisting supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine, and rumors of coming shortages, preppers start to look smarter and smarter every day. Most of us can see the value in stocking up on essentials, but where to start?
First, it’s important to get an idea of what you’re prepping for. Do you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes? Blackouts? Riots? Are you looking to prepare for a week without electricity or a few months without a reliable supply of food to your local grocery store? Start by fixing that idea as a goal in your mind, and then get started putting aside the things you’ll need. We’ve compiled a list of ten categories of items you might want to consider stockpiling right now.
We are watching the world get more and more dangerous. One of the most obvious things we can do to prepare is get ready to defend ourselves and our supplies. If you don’t already have a gun, get a gun. If you do have a gun or 20, then stock up on ammunition. If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable keeping guns or can’t currently afford a gun try pepper spray, a knife, or even a tire iron.
If you live in an area where you can hunt and fish, stock up on hunting supplies and fishing gear. A gun-free hunting option you could also consider is a bow and arrows.
Most of us lose access to our water as soon as we lose electricity. Stock up on gallon jugs of water, and bottles of water. Keep in mind, water jugs need to be stored in a cool and dry place away from sun exposure. If you have a nearby natural water source, you can fill a bathtub with that in an emergency and use purification tablets. Something else to consider are electrolyte additives that can be added to your water to boost hydration. Another handy tool is a filtration straw. You can use a filtration straw with pretty much any water source and drink safely (obviously use as directed). It’s also a good idea to have some containers saved up to collect water in, for example, you can wash out empty milk jugs and have handy containers at no additional cost.
Food: The Basics
Stock up on food items you use regularly. Make sure your pantry is full, then, if you can, expand into additional storage space. Keep in mind expiration dates and how quickly you and your family will use food. Rice and beans are obvious, cheap prepper foods, but if your family hates beans, pick something else like pasta or quinoa! Don’t spend your hard-earned money stocking up things you’d never use if you didn’t have to. Canned items and dried goods tend to last a long time. Think about what grains you use, what oils you use, what sweeteners you like, and what fruits and vegetables you enjoy canned and dried. If you bake, stock up on all your baking supplies. Don’t forget the frozen section! Fill your freezer with meat, and don’t forget you can also freeze things like butter and cheese and yeast to extend their lives.
Food: The Less Obvious
While you’re stocking up on all the normal shelf-safe foods you like to have around, don’t forget some of the less obvious things like baby formula, pet food and supplies, spices, and condiments. Desert options like mixes for baked goods, canned pie filling, and jello can be great too! The leavening agent in things like pancake and cake mixes will go bad first, so keep an eye on those expiration dates. If you garden, stock up on gardening supplies, freezing seeds to extend their lives.
A Note on Long Term Food Storage
For these last two categories of food, we’re assuming that you, the reader, are just getting started prepping. The basic food preps discussed here are limited to expiration date, but there are ways to extend the shelf life of food even farther, and emergency kits you can buy that are built to last years and years. Here are a few ideas to look into if you’re ready:
Vendors like https://mypatriotsupply.com, https://4patriots.com, and https://rainydayfoods.com
Mylar Bags, oxygen absorbers, and long-term storage buckets. (You can find tutorials on Youtube for how to utilize these).
Nutrition supplements that provide a source of nutrients and vitamins to supplement your daily required dose. You can find these at most any emergency food supplier.
First Aid and Medicine
A first aid kit is an essential for any prepper. Start with a basic kit you know how to use, but consider a trauma kit as well. Prepping isn’t just about buying stuff, but about acquiring knowledge. Having the skill to use a trauma kit in an emergency can save a life. Another thing to consider are the prescription drugs that you and your family take. Are you able to acquire any extra from your doctor? If so, take every possible step to get those and store them carefully to make them last as long as possible. If the past two years have taught us anything, even the most basic over-the-counter medications can be hard to come by sometimes. Stock up on the basics and don’t forget multivitamins! Supportive medical equipment such as crutches or slings can be a good idea, and there are even companies like https://jasemedical.com that sell prescription antibiotic kits to keep on hand for emergencies.
Whenever the panic-buys begin, we all know the first thing to disappear is toilet paper. Make sure you have plenty on hand. Stock up on all the items you use regularly from shampoo to laundry detergent to toothpaste. Don’t forget disinfectants and feminine hygiene products!
Fuel and Batteries
Let’s talk about your battery and fuel situation. Batteries can power a variety of survival equipment and gear, such as flashlights, radios, weapon lights, and entertainment devices (more on that later), but we have to think about fuel too. Gas prices have been absurdly high lately, but saving some extra fuel for use in an emergency is still a really good idea. You never know when you’re going to need gas and either can’t get it anywhere or don’t have time to stop for it on your way out of a dangerous situation. Fuel additives to make your fuel last longer can be good to stock up on. In the event of an extended power outage, propane and wood can be good to have on hand for cooking. We like to keep cast iron and other fire-safe cooking gear on hand for this type of emergency cooking.
Supplies to Keep in Your Vehicle
Think about how much time you spend away from home whether at your work or elsewhere. Unless you work from home, you spend large portions of your day away from where all of your supplies are stored. If disaster strikes while you’re out, you’re going to need to be prepared to get home, that’s why we recommend keeping a “get home” bag in your car or your workplace. The longer your commute, the more supplies you’ll want to have on hand. A quick online search can give you tons of ideas of what to put in your bag, but some key items to consider are: a weapon and ammunition, high-carb and/or protein bars, bottles of water and/or a water filtration straw, a small first aid kit, and some clothing appropriate to your local climate and season. A few more supplies to consider for your vehicle include a small tool box, back-up parts, jumper cables, blankets, etc.
From power outages to lockdowns, many emergency and apocalypse situations will leave you in need of some good, accessible entertainment for you and your children. Books, board games, art supplies, and anything else offline that you enjoy are good to have around.
In our opinion, community is the most important and most overlooked aspect of prepping. The people you surround yourself with can make or break an emergency situation. Not everybody is physically capable of or has the skills required to do everything, especially alone. Building a network of like minded people that you can trust and rely on for the things you can’t get done on your own will be important to your successes. For example, you may have a neighbor with advanced medical training who can assist with medical preps so that you can put your efforts and money towards something else you’re good at, but they aren’t. In a survival situation, everything and every skill has value. Don’t just think about what you and your family needs, think in terms of the resources your community has and what you can bring to the table to work together. In certain disasters, communication can be difficult, so don’t forget to put a plan in place so you don’t lose touch with your network.
Are you overwhelmed yet? Go back to the first paragraph, and remember where we started. Think about what it is you want to be ready for. Make a manageable goal, and just get started. Identify what your needs are, and just begin taking steps to be less reliant on systems that are likely to fail in a crisis. One extra can of gas and one extra box of ammunition is better than nothing. Happy Prepping!