Stockpiling is the life of the homesteader and survivalist, and it seems like there’s always something new that we find we need to add to it. For many, this means mostly food, but you shouldn’t stop there.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in stockpiling food that we forget other important things. So, I’m going to share with you some of the top needs I’ve seen — many of which are way too easy to overlook in our stockpiling process.
We all get sick from time to time. Fortunately, our bodies are pretty good at healing themselves from a lot of that, but sometimes they need help. A few common medicines in your supplies could help ensure your long-term survival, as well as helping you deal with more common problems.
Start with over-the-counter medicines. There are a number of things you can buy which will help you deal effectively with day-to-day colds, the flu and those aches and pains we all face. For those, you’ll want to be sure you have:
- Cough suppressants
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Pain relievers
- Loperamide or Imodium for diarrhea
In addition, you want to make sure to stock up on antibiotics, if you can. Although you usually need to have a prescription to buy antibiotics, you can buy veterinary versions without a prescription — or if you go to Mexico on vacation, you can buy them over-the-counter in any pharmacy.
Don’t forget any prescription medications that family members need. Those are even harder to stock than antibiotics, and will probably require the cooperation of your family doctor. But many will cooperate, if you explain why you want them. They understand the need and are likely to support your efforts to protect your family.
2. First-aid supplies
Medical help is typically overwhelmed in any crisis. Not only that, but it’s often much more difficult to get to where the medical personnel are. With the chances of injury increased, you’d better be ready to take care of them yourself.
The good thing is, learning first-aid isn’t really all that hard. A few lessons from your local Red Cross or in online tutorials will go a long way toward helping take care of any injuries your family might experience. Supplies, without knowledge, are all but useless.
Most people think about batteries, but they don’t think about them enough. Consider how many things you have that use those batteries.
You also need to think about the odd-sized batteries that you use. More and more, we find compact electronics using lithium-ion button batteries — what we once called hearing-aid batteries. If you don’t have a stock of those batteries, as well, then the devices that use them will eventually become useless. Take an inventory of all the different types of batteries you use and make sure you have a stock.
Another thing to look at is rechargeable batteries. Most of us have at least some solar power. If you do, then make sure that you can recharge batteries off of it, especially for your most-used electronics, such as radios and flashlights.
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Regardless of what light sources you might have, you will probably end up resorting to using candles at some point in time. Candles have the distinct advantage of simplicity, meaning that we can make them ourselves, if needed. All we need is a source of wax, such as a beehive.
The problem with candles is that they only burn so long. You actually need quite a few candles to make it through even a short blackout. So, this is one of those items that you might want to just keep on collecting.
I buy candles at garage sales, where they go for a dime on the dollar, or less. I then melt them down and pour them into spaghetti sauce jars, making my own “survival candles.” Most of these are made with multiple wicks, allowing the candle to put off more light.
5. Candle wick
Speaking of candles, stockpile a spool of candle wick, as well. A couple hundred feet of candle wick will allow you to keep making candles. Regular cordage doesn’t work so good, so for the minimal investment this takes, it’s worth it.
Most homesteaders and survivalists are planning on heating and cooking with wood in the event of any disaster that takes out the grid. Wood is a renewable resource and one that we can harvest ourselves. But it takes a lot of wood to make it through a winter. You really need to have about six cords of firewood in order to have enough. Of course, if you’re going to be cooking on wood all-year long, then you’ll need more.
Firewood isn’t the only kind of fuel you’re going to need. While that might be your main heating and cooking fuel, what about everything else? Not only will your car be parked without gasoline, but your chainsaw, your lawn mower and your roto-tiller, as well.
While we may have to get used to living without cars and trucks, those other tools will be even more critical in a survival situation. Having fuel to roto-till your backyard and turn it into a garden will be a critical survival need. So will being able to cut down trees and convert them into firewood.
But gasoline isn’t the only fuel you may need. If you have kerosene heaters or oil lamps, you’ll need fuel for them, as well. How about propane? Do you have a propane barbecue grille? Are you planning on using a propane camp stove? Granted, there are other options for any of these things, but they aren’t easy ones.
8. Butane lighters and fuel
It has taken years, but I’ve finally moved away from matches as my standard fire-starting tool. I’ve come to realize that a butane lighter is much more efficient, allowing me to light about 1,000 fires and being more compact than a waterproof match container that holds less than 20 matches.
But while many people have opted for disposable butane lighters, I’ve chosen to go with quality. There are a number of reasons for this, most especially because I like having a lighter that the wind can’t blow out. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had more frustration from wind blowing out a lighter that I was trying to use to start a fire, than I care to remember.
A quality, windproof lighter is about the best option around. Most of these are piezo-electric, striking constantly while the gas supply is on. That’s how they make them windproof. Even if the wind tries to blow them out, they relight immediately. They are also refillable. So, a couple of cans of butane lighter fluid will keep you striking a light for years.
I have to confess, I’m a bit of a flashlight collector. I don’t know why, but I’ve got flashlights everywhere. I’ve even gone though my house, putting holders in closets and cabinets, so that there is always a flashlight in every room. That way, if the lights go out, nobody has to go stumbling around to find a flashlight.
But no flashlight lasts forever, not even the modern tactical lights. While I haven’t had any problems with high-grade tactical flashlights, I have had a number of med-grade and el-cheapo tactical lights go dead. And by dead, I mean really dead.
So don’t think that having a flashlight is enough. Have several. Have several spares. That stockpile of batteries isn’t going to take care of you if you don’t have the lights with which to use them.
10. Building materials
This one may sound like an oddball to some, but I’m a firm believer in including at least some building supplies in my stockpile. That’s because the most likely disaster that any of us will face is a natural disaster. Those tend to damage homes, meaning that you need to be ready to make emergency repairs.
Now, when I’m saying emergency repairs, I’m not talking about fixing the trim. I’m talking about drying-in your home in the case that a tree branch comes through the roof. You can do that with a minimal of materials. It may not be pretty, but it will keep you dry.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the building materials. If you’re going to fix things, you’re going to need hardware – screws, nails and such — to do it. There are also a lot of other things you can fix, even without the building materials, if you have the hardware. Put in a goodly stock, making sure you have lots of variety.
12. Hand tools
In today’s society we’ve become dependent on power tools. Like everyone else, I’ve got a good collection of them in my workshop. But I also have hand tools for just about everything, so that even if I don’t have electrical power, I can keep on working.
It’s not unusual in a survival situation to find yourself having to build things to help you survive. Having the right tools, to go along with the building materials I just mentioned, makes it possible for you to make shelter, furniture and a host of other things.
There are few places in the country which are immune to flooding. Even areas which are extremely arid flood at times. Whether due to hurricanes, or flash floods upstream, we are all at risk of the possibility of flooding.
Of course, there are a lot of different ways of dealing with flooding, but the most basic is with sandbags. Stacked sandbags have stood the test of time, both for their convenience and their effectiveness.
In a time where flooding is expected, many municipalities have centralized sand piles that are usable for filling your sandbags. But you can stock your own sand, too, simply by building the kids a nice big sandbox. Make sure it’s big, so you’ll have plenty of sand; that way you’ll be able to fill all your bags.
14. Repair tarps
Speaking of repairing, you need to look at all of your survival equipment from the viewpoint of making repairs on it. It’s great to have a pump for water; but if the pump breaks down, it’s no more valuable than a paperweight. You’ve got to be able to repair that pump, as well as your chainsaw, your roto-tiller and your solar power system.
In most cases, the parts that can go bad in these devices are usually fairly simple things, like seals. Such things are referred to as “maintenance parts,” simply because replacing them from time to time is considered part of normal maintenance. Manufacturers will often sell kits of these common parts, which is an ideal way to make sure you have what you need.
Of course, having the parts is only part of the battle. You’ll need the tools and knowledge, as well, in order to make those repairs. So, make sure you have the necessary information on how to work on the device, as well as any specialty tools necessary.
Few people think of stockpiling clothing, mostly because we all have closets full of them. But the clothes we wear every day may not be appropriate for a survival situation. If you wear jeans and work shirts all the time, then you’re set, but if you work in an office, you aren’t going to have clothes that are rugged enough for the work you’ll need to be doing.
So you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of:
- Work shirts
- Work jackets (for winter)
- Work gloves
- Wool socks
The other big issue here is children. They have this bad habit of outgrowing their clothes, at times just about as fast as you can buy them. You need to have at least a couple of sizes of clothing larger than what they are wearing now in order to be sure that you have enough to keep them going until a good barter system can be put in place.
My wife used to buy our children’s clothes a couple of years ahead-of-time when they were small. Part of this was that she was a consummate garage-saler. So she’d buy what she could, knowing that the kids would need it later. We had boxes of clothes in the attic, all broken down into sizes by child.
A similar system would be ideal for your needs, if you have children. Instead of buying them the clothes they need now, work your way up to buying them the clothes they’ll need in two years. When you take the next size out of the attic, start filling a box with one size bigger than what you have. That way, you’ve always got clothing for them, for at least a couple of years.
16. Sewing supplies
Speaking of clothing; that stuff has a bad habit of tearing, especially when you’re doing hard physical work. So you’ll want to make sure you have a good stock of needles and thread on hand for making repairs. You’ll also want buttons, zippers and other such goodies, to keep your clothing in repair.
If the lady of the house is one who sews, make sure that you get a treadle sewing machine sometime. You can still find them at antique shops and (every now and then) even Goodwill stores. Between that and a stock of fabric, you’ll be in good shape for clothing.
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17. Sturdy boots
Few people wear hiking boots on a daily basis. If we wear boots, they’re more the decorative kind. About the sturdiest shoe we ever wear is a pair of tennis shoes … not really all that sturdy. But in the case of survival, good sturdy boots are essential, especially ones that will offer you good ankle support. The last thing you will need is a broken ankle from twisting it on rough ground.
Don’t just depend on one pair of boots, though; they can wear out. Have a couple of pair, and alternate using them, so they will both break in well.
18. Water filter systems
Many of us have some sort of water filtering unit as our primary means of water purification. But once the cartridge or filter has purified the number of gallons of water it is intended for, it’s dead.
There really isn’t an “ideal” number of filters to have. Just make sure that whatever you have, it’s plenty for your needs. Then add a couple more, just for good measure.
19. Personal hygiene supplies
Someone once said, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” I’m not so sure about that, but I am sure it is next to good health. While it is both possible and fairly easy to make soap, that requires a source of lye. If you don’t have that source, then you can’t make it. So, even something that simple needs to be considered in your supplies. But soap isn’t the only personal hygiene supply you can make. Take a look around the Internet and you’ll find a plethora of recipes for anything from deodorants to cosmetics.
20. Cleaning supplies
One of the best ways to keep bugs and rodents out of your home is to keep it clean. Both are attracted to food residue, especially sugar. This is a common means for the spread of disease, so you’ll need to watch out for it.
You’re best off buying commercial concentrates and stockpiling those. Not only do they take less space, but you’ll find that by buying them by the gallon, you’ll save money. Just make sure to have a good stock of spray bottles (which are cheap) to go with them.
There are many recipes on the Internet for making your own cleaning supplies, too — some from natural ingredients. Once again, you’ll need to make sure that you have access to those supplies, but some may actually be growing in your garden already.
21. Heirloom seeds
Most homesteaders and survivalists are already gardening. In a situation where you have to be able to depend on the produce you are growing, heirloom seeds are the only way to go.
As part of your gardening efforts, you should be trying to harvest the seeds from your garden. Those seeds will be the beginning of next year’s garden. In olden times, farmers commonly saved seeds from their harvest so that they would have it for next year. When you can’t run to the local store and buy seeds, that’s the only way you’ll get them.
But I want to mention one other thing here. That is, if a major disaster strikes, where you’ll have to live off of what you grow for the foreseeable future, then one of the first things you’re going to need to do is to expand your garden. That means you’ll need enough seeds on hand to do that. It will already be too late to buy more. So, how many seeds will you need to turn your entire backyard into a garden?
This one is kind of obvious, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Many people out there talk about having 10,000 rounds of ammo. That’s great — if you’re planning on fighting a small war; but if your focus is hunting, then you may be stocking the wrong thing.
Think this one through. Yes, you need ammo for home defense. You also need ammo for hunting. You may even need ammo for training your children and other members of your family. So take the time to figure out how much ammo you’ll actually use for each of these needs — and then double it. That should see you through.
In addition to teaching your kids, think in terms of skills that you’ll need to learn. You’re probably working on those right now, and that’s great. But if you’re anything like me, there’s never enough time for all you want to learn. So, stock up on some good books to teach you those skills when the time comes. That way, you won’t be without them.
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