Survival Survey: You can never have enough of…

image by Seattle Municipal Archives

I’ve been looking over our emergency supplies and realized that we need more batteries. A lot more. The thought occurred to me, is it possible to have too many batteries? What else should I stock up on, regardless of how much or how many I already have?

Here is a short list I compiled off the top of my head:

  • Black Sharpies
  • Scissors
  • Pocket knives
  • Flashlights
  • Bars of soap
  • Matches
  • Toilet paper

I’m sure there’s a lot more that falls in the category of, you-can-never-have-too-much. What wouldyou add?


There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
The following two tabs change content below.
I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

Latest posts by The Survival Mom (see all)

I want to receive updates and
EMP survival reports!


  1. Karen says

    Toilet paper
    Baking Soda (many many medicinal uses people don’t even consider)
    Salt / spices
    and best of all,

    Prepper friends / community buddies to watch your back.

  2. says

    Think in terms of how an item is manufactured and sold. Taking batteries as an example, they require some fairly high tech equipment and uncommon materials to make. They are sold as a commodity with a low profit margin. The “saving grace” for batteries is that they are used in huge numbers by the military and police, so they will likely have a high priority and will continue being manufactured if anything at all is.

    When things get seriously bad, what is less likely to continue being manufactured? Razor blades are one thing that comes to mind. The technology required is incredibly complex, and it would not take much of a disruption to shut down a razor blade plant. In the case of the old style (but very effective and versatile) double edge blades, I don’t think there are any still made here in America – they are all made in Japan, Russia, and Israel (and perhaps a few other places).

    History has shown that when people sink into despair, a very high value is placed on things that make them feel human again. Soap, shampoo, deodorant, cologne, makeup – and razor blades – all have a value on the barter market. Of those, only razor blades cannot be manufactured as a cottage industry. If things turn seriously bad, there is a good chance that quality razor blades will not be made for a very long time. So, what can I not have enough of? Razor blades – for use and for barter.

  3. Jennifer S. says

    toilet paper, batteries,duct tape, bars of soap, canned dog & cat food, kitty litter…the list could go on and on.

  4. Donna Littlefield says

    I was thinking just the other day about somethings around the house I hadn’t really considered a good idea to add to a 72 hour or longer kit..The first one I realized I hadn’t thought of that would be really useful in such a kit is those wonderful kitchen shears that will cut almost anything and actually have a couple of extras to them (the jar opener between the handles and the flathead screw driver on one handle)…How about keeping the above mentioned batteries in a small separate container just in case of batteries leaking. Take the multi tool off my key chain and put it in the kit (besides you can lose it if you forget you have it on your key chain and you enter a building with metal detectors. And yes alot of things suggest using plastic utensils ..I say the real ones are better because they can be used for so much more than the plastic utensil…ever consider that you sometimes use the back of a normal table knife to loosen up a stubborn jar. And for sure going to be getting some of those P38’s at the military surplus..they don’t take much room and I have yet to hear anything but raves from the men that have served their country as to how well these open can’s etc. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything else that comes to mind that isn’t on the normal list.

    • JJ says

      If you know a good resoiurce that teaches how to use the p38 please let me know. I bought a few and can’t seem to use them. I think one of them even bent… maybe the brand?

      • 6th Sense says

        God bless all of you. I am a 60 year old retired Navy guy who is still works full time gainfully employed in the IT business. The P38 takes moderately strong fingers – a woman or healthy teenager should be able to do this OK but at first it takes a little bit of practice until you get the hang of it. I am right-handed so here is how it works for me (by the way, there are no left-handed P38’s to my knowledge so please follow these instructions). I have a P38 in my right hand and a can to be opened in my left as I write this. The P38 has two parts, a larger area I call the handle, and a smaller area with a hinge that has a blade with a sharp point on it.

        1. At my starting point I assume that the P38 is folded so it is flat, and is held by my right hand, straight out in front of me, with my thumb and the index and middle finger, with the thumb being nearest to my face (so I can see my thumbnail) and the index and middle finger on the other (far side) of the P38 away from my face.

        2. Unfold the P38 – the sharp pointed area will unfold away from you and to your left. They can be stiff when they are new so do what you have to do to open the P38. When you have done this step, the sharp blade and it’s point are pointed away from you and the point is pointing down.

        3. Note that in the HANDLE of the P38 there is a small cut-out that looks kind of like a backwards letter “C” as you see it now.

        4. Take the can to be opened into your left hand with the part to be cut towards the sky (so juices do not spill out) and place the backward’s letter “C” cut-out of the P38 handle onto the ridge of the can – you will likely have to rotate the bottom of the P38’s handle away from you to be able to get the backwards “C” cut-out into the ridge on the edge of the can.

        5. After hooking the reverse “C” cut-out of the handle onto the can, ensure that the blade with the pointed tip is INSIDE the can’s ridge, with the sharp tip pointed down towards the can, so it can cut the metal top of the can off.

        6. Bring the bottom of the P38’s handle towards you, which should puncture the top of the can.
        After puncturing the top of the can:

        7. Rotate the bottom of the P38 away from you, rotate the can counter-clockwise, which lets you bring the P38 about 1/4 of an inch nearer to you, so you can repeat step 6.

        8. Proceed in like fashion for steps 6 and 7 until the can is open.

        NOW. Having gone through all this, I have to be honest – I found it much easier to just go the grocery store and buy a “better quality” can opener to open my cans. I have 4 of the BETTER QUALITY can openers on hand as I know the P38 will wear out after about 15-30 cans and will be useless afterwards.

        I wish you well.

    • TOM BALDWIN says


  5. Becky says

    As person who cans, vinager, canning salt, spices, jars and other equipment for this process.

    I keep a list on a dry easer board, so if I think of something else that I might need in the future it goes on that board. The ideas I have read here on this blog will be added to my board, and when I think I have enough of any one item I wipe it off, to make room for other ideas.

  6. Jill says

    chocolate chips – ok there’s a limit… maybe

    Sugar, wheat, salts, bleach, soaps, vinegar, baking soda, mineral make up, tp, tarps, source of heat/light…
    hard to narrow it down – but I can see I like food and ability to clean..

  7. says

    On a previous article, the discussion was the morality/need for stocking liquor. From an OPSEC standpoint and from the standpoint that I have never met a nice desperate drunk, that part of society I would avoid in a “collapse of the rule of law” scenario. Even if done in an approved Farmer’s Market/Barter location. Hibiclens is a better wound cleaner than alcohol.
    Something that is not mentioned more as must have, that will be needed in a situation when “old” diseases make a comeback, and that is the meds needed for treating simple Dysentery. Pepto, electrolytes, antibiotics. As a primary barter item (after meeting family needs of the obvious items), I’m stocking up on antibiotics that are sealed in vac pack bags, with O2 absorber in dose quantities. I’ve printed instructions for each. According to US Army research, these will keep for up 38 years (not tetracycline). These will be “bartered” for a very wide latitude of acceptable items, no one turned away, community hours accepted (chop firewood, till gardens, elder care, ect.). Way better than gold coins.

    • Samantha Sullivan says

      How do you stock up on antibiotics? I have a hard enough time getting doctors to give it to my daughter who gets constant tonsillitis (will be having them removed soon, but had to wait 9 months for her cardiologist to clear her for surgery, so 9 months of constant infections.)

      • Jenine Phelps says

        You can go to a veterinary supply website and buy the antibiotics labeled for fish or birds. They are the same antibiotics made for human use but with different packaging. Then you can search the web for the appropriate human dosages.

  8. Iowa Prepper says

    toothpaste.toothbrushes, floss, male/female hygiene, baby whipes, insect spray, sunblock, lip balm, water purification items, first aid supplies, medication supplies, sheets, towels, aluminum foil, ziplock baggies, sewing kit/supplies, various clothing items, paracord, tarps, cleaning supplies for house and weapons, cash and personal papers and identification, radio, barter type items, non-electrical entertainment (books, playing cards, dice, etc), pet related items, and/or camping gear possibly.

  9. Ecomum says

    I have a battery charger and buy rechargeable batteries; as I have solar panels this should be ok to keep them topped up if the SHTF, but I also have a solar charger for the smaller size batteries which can just sit on the windowsill and trickle charge.
    Other than that, here in the UK most gardeners have a problem with slugs and snails, so organic slug repellent is near the top of my list, both for myself and as a barter item.
    I’ve not got much yet, but I was thinking the other day that elastic may be a useful item to have for if we ever have to make our own underwear.

  10. Cindy says

    I don’t use a ton of batteries in my home so I don’t have the experience to know: Is it a good idea to stock up on inexpensive batteries (Panosonic) that I can get for $1/pack or are they pretty much worthless so I am better off paying 6 times that price for Energizer or Duracell?

    • nancy says

      Batteries not sure what ones to buy the cheap ones or the more expensive kind…how long can you keep batteries dont use alot of them but i do know if it does happen i will need them.. I did purchase faraday bags to keep my batteries and some electronics working in case of and EMP..

  11. Stealth Spaniel says

    Ok-here is one item no one is mentioning. Yes, it is a vanity item but….for those who color their hair, what happens when the SHTF and I am simply graying faster??!!!??? :>) I have thought of henna, and my natural hair color is red, but I can always tell a dyed redhead. So, I went for the windswept Nicole Kidman beach blond look. However, that ain’t happening in the long term.
    Dry dog food & rice for the dogs
    Water-water-& filters
    Passports & birth certificates(although Obama has kinda made that irrelevant)
    Survival Seeds
    Guns & Ammo
    Freeze dried meats
    A sharp mind or some such facsimile !!!
    Extra glasses and contacts

    • says

      Oh yes, your are so right about the glasses and contacts. I have saved the last 3 pairs of glasses that I have had. They may be slightly less strong and not the latest style, but they would surely be better than nothing.

    • nancy says

      You can use cool aid to color your hair my kids do it all the time the cherry cool aid comes out like a strawberry need to use the sugar free kind and boil it…check you tube it will tell you how to do ..and at 20cents for a package you might make it through the shtf…

    • olivia says

      I know this is a late reply…but you certainly gave me something to think about. HAIR DYE, this is the one area of my retired life I have refused to budget. I go and spend too much each month to cover the gray. Without hair dye, I will just stand there and let the zoombies eat my face off, that should give the rest of you a headstart on bugging out.

  12. JJ says

    I tried to post from my phone, but it isn’t here, so I’ll try to recreate my randome thoughts.

    Chocolate chips! – oh maybe there is a limit to choc chips … maybe.

    My family would live much better with LOTS of peanut butter.

    Sugar, wheat, salts, basic spices, bakins soda, vinegar, bleach, soaps, mineral makeup (cuz it’s powder so it lasts and makes me feel human, mascara would be nice too). Lots of tools, and ways to make heat and light. And ways to gather and filter water.

    Also like all the comments above and fully agree with Iowa Prepper. Thanks to Becky – keeping a list of things we would like to get is a great idea. I have lists, then I lose them. Dry erase board (I prefer the wet erase though) would be nice and it visible to the family as well. Thanks for the ideas folks – every little bit helps.

    • Kirsten says

      Speaking of maxi pads. I’ve recently switched to using a menstrual cup, as it’s reusable for years and is about $20. There are two sizes mostly, pre and post having children. It’s nice to only have to store two small silicon cups and not boxes and boxes of pads or tampons. I’ve not had children yet, but I’d like to have both sizes in case SHTF and I can’t buy one.
      Other items/resources: games and books, supportive family/friends in your area, tea/coffee–makes you feel human and could be good barter items. There are other things I’d think excellent to have, but not stockpiles of. Medicines are a good idea–but even take that a step farther and learn local medicinal plants and how to harvest/use them.

  13. Casey says

    Washcloths for toilet paper (peepee only). We got about ~50 lime green washcloths from Target, and use only that color for tp. (When the dryer quits working someday, and the washcloths have to be air dried, they may not be as soft but will still work.) Your stockpile of toilet paper will last longer if you don’t use it up for peepee.

    Large compost pile to bury garbage in.

    Live traps for mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, etc.

    Good leather gloves for handling the traps when they are occcupied.

    • lee says

      bleach won’t last forever….I’m thinking of things that would last forever……tin foil (aluminum foil) is something that will last, will increase in value IF we get hyperinflation, and is very useful for cooking, storing, freezing, etc…

      matches…get the kind that can be struck anywhere…..salt….sugar….bandaids…..playing cards/dice…..aspirin…..liquor…..vinegar….for flashlights, even though we have a lot, I’d like another one that is self crank/solar so you don’t need batteries…

      • Rastus McGee says

        Pool chemicals, check out “shock” different concentratios so be sure to check the mix ratios.

  14. Linda says

    If tings get really that bad, sanitation will be a MAJOR issue. With poor sanitation and lots of garbage come ants, mice and rats.

    So we’ll need lots od ant-spray, traps and room-freshener.

    Portable toilet w/chem bags

  15. Liz Long says

    I have a fair number of regular batteries, but I’ve been stocking up on Eneloop rechargeables. What I like about these is that they have a “jacket” that you can put the AA battery into, transforming it into a C or D cell. Pretty cool!

    Insect repellant – do you think Lyme Disease will be EASIER SHTF? Yep, tick problem in my area. 😉
    Baby Wipes.
    Cinnamon – it’s healthy, not native to the Americas, and cheap right now. Costco!
    Gloves. We all know how hard it is to keep a matched pair. And they’d be a good barter good that wouldn’t even be an OPSEC issue. “Gee, look what I just dug out of a drawer!” “Finally found all those missing mates to gloves!”

  16. M. Dowell says

    I’m interested in how to store antibiotics long term. It was mentioned that they were sealed with an oxygen absorber. I’d like to know more, such as, were mylar bags used? If not, would canning jars used with an oxygen absorber work? What strength o2 absorber? Thanks,

    • says

      Hi M. Dowell
      I’m using clear bags, but mylar would be better. I like to see what is in the bag and to also confirm using my Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs or Physician’s Desk Reference. I’m using SE300 absorbers (you can get O2 absorbers from Emergency Ess. from the link on this site above). I’m vac packing. Light, O2 and humidity are the sources of degradation. If you get a bag of absorbers, when they are opened, they get hot fast. Break up into smaller quantities and re-vac immediately. Monitor the “pile” for excessive heat. When storing any type of med, avoid liquid solutions. They will degrade quicker. Folks have mentioned the importance of Benadryl. Add Imodium AD to that. Both in tablet form. Both very important survival tools. Go through the archive of articles from Survival Mom to find sources of antibiotics and uses. There were some good articles in the past.

  17. Johnathan says

    Someone asked the question about having batteries for non-normal situations.
    Here are my thoughts:
    Regular alkaline batteries are ok but what good is a battery if it is dead when you go to use it. A better long term storage technology for batteries is “Lithium” batteries.

    NOW PAY ATTENTION HERE! There is a world of difference between Lithium Ion and Lithium.
    – Lithium Ion batteries ARE re-chargeable.
    – Lithium batteries (no “Ion” in the name) are NOT re-chargeable.

    wikipedia – “Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. They stand apart from other batteries in their high charge density (long life). Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V (same as zinc–carbon battery or alkaline battery) to about 3.7 VoIts”

    It might also be interesting to note that in general rechargeable batteries do not hold their charge very long. There designed to be charged and used immediately, then recharged. Not sit on the shelf while holding a charge.

  18. Sandra says

    Benadryl (diphenhydramine). There was a first-aid class recently for some preppers in the area and they mentioned that the trainers couldn’t stress enough how important simple Benadryl is for stopping allergic reactions from becoming something more serious. Two of mine have allergies, one has a severe allergy to fish. I have my son’s Epipen, but I’ve been able to give him Benadryl immediately and he’s been fine. My oldest had hives and we couldn’t get any Benadryl in her right away and it was awful! She ended up with a secondary skin reaction. I am now putting it in each GOOD bag.

  19. Karen says

    There are so many items that would be as important as any other items. Chocolate would be good.

    TP is a good idea but I have also kept the flannel from some really soft flannel pants with tears in them. I plan to use this as “family cloth” or, in other words, TP

    rechargeable batteries and a solar charger

    soap, shampoo, razors (although I would just stop shaving), deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss! Everyone should floss every day, carefully, to keep teeth and gums in tip-top shape

    band aids, Neosporin, Benedryl, prescriptions you take, butterfly bandages

    clothing that will last a while. Sneakers, sturdy boots, undies, you name it! Clothing wears out!

    a clothesline. You’ll need to wash and dry your clothing

    This list goes on and on

  20. McGirl says

    Spices – I buy spices everytime I go to ALDI. Especially Cinnamon. It is such a comforting taste/smell that I think it could be a good barter item. The 4.25 ounce bottles are just 99 cents there.

    Baby wipes – I grab the re-sealable packages for about a buck a piece. A little bit of hygiene will go a long way I think.

    Plastic Food Storage bags – Assorted uses, of course. I grab a box or two every time I’m at the store.

    Garbage bags – Same thing. Lots of uses. And I’ve notices the prices just keep going up and up so I’m buying them before they get more expensive.

    Benadryl – I buy the huge bottles at Costco. In addition to using it for allergic reactions, etc. it’s a good sleep remedy if needed. 😉

    Alcohol/Hydrogen Peroxide – these are cheap and can be used to sterilize and clean wounds, etc.

  21. Deborah Gibbs says

    How about material, yarns, knitting needles, crochet hooks, sewing needles & thread…whenever I read everyones replies my list gets bigger and bigger! I have bought the rechargeable batteries and I am way underwhelmed…the price is astronomical (we bought energizers). Think we will just stock up on the regular ones till the recharge technologies get better lol. Thanks for the great ideas everyone!

  22. Mom of five says

    List of herbs with remedies for if or when you cannot find or buy medicine. example pineapple has aspirin like effects. coconut milk oil etc. works as a antifungal and helps get rid of colds. peppermint good for upset stomach and peppermint oil for mice. makuna honey for wound infections like mersa. sore throats.
    crisco for lice.

  23. Quiet One says

    I am not very knowledgeable about all of this – which is why I am on the website to learn.

    I saw a few of you had mentioned pests so I thought I’d share a little tip, if that’s okay. My uncle used to work as an exterminator and told me that chili powder or something similar, spicier, etc. keeps many pesky lurkers away because when they sniff it, it burns the inside of their noses. It also helps to keep them away because they learn that is an area with painful stimuli associated. It isn’t a one time thing; you’d have to do it each time you notice things getting closer, but it will help. So, I thought maybe someone would be interested in that.

    Thank you all for the wealth of invaluable knowledge you’ve shared. I am learning so much.

  24. Night Owl says

    Hi, I’m new to the whole prepping life style, but before hearing about it I would think about these kind of scenarios and what to do for fun. I live in a tropical, developing country; and thinking about how people in early civilizations came to solve their issues, gave me some ideas:

    Salt, sugar, and any kind of spices you can get and store.
    Honey: no real expiration date
    Cocoa or chocolate, again, doesn’t really go bad, and high calorie content.
    Vinegar, good for pickling and to clean wounds. Also, if you combine it with cut chili peppers, can be used as an all natural bug repellent, if you’re growing food.
    Coffee, both ground and the roasted beans; not only good for drinking, it can be used as a spice, and for bartering.
    Garlic, whole. You can also get it ground for cooking, but whole garlic has tons of uses in home remedies, and if it’s stored in a dark, dry place, it has a long shelf life.

    And again: Sugar, Salt and Spices! Truly, people discovered a whole new continent looking for spices, they help not only with taste, but to conserve food when there is no fridge available.

  25. Mma800 says

    Tin foil
    Plastic storage bags all sizes including the huge ones
    Trash bags including the heavy duty contractor ones
    Extra wicks for lanterns
    Outgrown or worn out clothes for all fabric needs (bandages, slings, TP, barter, etc)
    Outgrown or worn shoes
    Cotton balls and cotton swabs
    Benadryl, Advil, Imodium
    Work gloves
    Plastic or latex medical gloves
    Suture kits
    Good scissors and can opener
    French press coffee maker
    Baking soda
    Vanilla extract
    Cast iron pans
    Aluminum type casserole pans
    Extra bike tires and parts
    Solar torches
    Bug spray
    Mouse traps

    The list goes on and on. I am getting there slowly. :)

  26. Kat says

    good to see someone mentioned sutures, but also bandages, gauze, disinfectants safe for skin (hibicleanse, bactine), inuprophen, benerdryl

  27. Deerlady1112 says

    TAMPONS! For the obvious reason but they are also a great prepper tool…

    Here is just a handful of things you can do with a tampon…

    1. Medical Bandage
    2. Crude Water Filter
    3. Fire Tender
    4. Crude Survival Straw Filter
    5. Wick for improvised candle
    6. Cordage
    7. Blow Dart Fletching

    This list came from

    You can search the web and find all kinds of uses for a simple tampon.

  28. Faith says

    Having done volunteer work in 3rd world countries I am stocking up on Diaper Wipes. When you have no running water soap isn’t going to do a bit of good and diaper wipes make the best alternative to a bath or shower you can possible get without running water. Salt would be my next favorite for it’s medicinal purposes and white vinegar for the same reasons.

  29. Linda says

    I cannot believe how many people listed vanity items ( makeup, hair coloring, etc) as prepping items you can never have enough of! Trust me, I visit my hair colorist every six weeks and rarely leave the house without makeup. I like nice clothing and spa days. But when the SHTF, Ladies, you will be in crisis mode…the sheer stress of dealing with the immediate changes, the physical labor of your daily activities and chores, worrying for your family’s safety and security, potentially hunting/fishing/foraging for your next meal. You may think these will be comfort items but I’ll bet you won’t even be thinking of them post-SHTF. Think of the first month as a new mother, while camping and hiking with the flu….that’s probably how it’s going to physically feel day in and day out. So the best preparation for that feeling is to volunteer for at least a week at a time in post- disaster situations or third world countries.
    As for my top three things I can never stockpile enough of: antibiotics, ammo and first aid supplies.

  30. says

    My husband read somewhere that an old micro wave oven makes a good place to store batteries. I managed to salvage a really old micro that was no longer working and it weighs a ton. We keep all our batteries in it. It is probably similar to a faraday cage so a larger one might be good to keep cell phones or other electronics in.
    My biggest worry is our animals. We have a barn full of hay so the horses will be okay for quite awhile. The dogs and cats will need more food than I have stored so will work on that.

  31. Candice Brasington says

    I forgot to add they can write on glass, plastic, metal, etc whereas the Sharpie pens are more limited in what they can write on.

  32. C Vargas says

    Ziploc bags!
    Baby Wipes (you could own a baby-wipe factory and not have tooooo many of these! Especially if you have kids!)
    sewing notions, thread, needles, buttons, repair patches
    rubber repair patches
    a good air pump

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *