It was so easy to stock up on food. I filled a couple of grocery carts with cans of soup, tuna, chicken, ravioli, and I was ready for a 2-week zombie apocalypse. Easy-peasy. Stocking up on non-edibles, though was trickier because I had to keep in mind the changing needs of a family of four and our needs ranged from razors to selenium supplements to dental floss.
Those non-edibles, though, are every bit as important as food. While your family’s needs will be different from anyone else’s, here’s a short list of 10 items that pretty much every household needs.
Picture this. You’ve been in your bunker for three weeks. Sponge baths are a rare treat. Then you remember your stash of Secret anti-perspirant. Ahhhh….. instant morale booster, especially if shared.
Periods don’t stop for something trivial like a nuclear war. A six month’s stash of tampons, especially o.b., won’t take up much room, and will greatly improve your quality of life. However, a much better option, by far, is a menstrual cup, such as the Diva Cup that I review here.
Small items for entertainment
Choose multi-use toys and games. Playing cards or Play-Dough, for example. Yard sales, dollar stores, and thrift shops are all very good places to buy these. They’ll keep kids busy during stressful times and will provide diversions for the adults in the group.
In a pinch it can be used for shampoo and even laundry. Buy a variety of soaps, including some that do not have a lot of extra dye or perfume added. You should also stock up on classic laundry soaps, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. These are terrific as stain removers and as an ingredient for homemade laundry detergent.
Zip-Loc bags of all sizes
These can’t be beat for everything from a tooth for the Tooth Fairy to containing nuclear waste, aka dirty diapers.
Rope for a clothesline and clothes pins. Air-dried laundry smells and feels so clean and crisp. It may become your preferred method of drying, even after the electricity comes on, and of course there’s the added benefit of being oh-so-Green!
A pack of never-before-opened underwear for each family member
This is something that most folks will overlook in their zeal to stock up on freeze-dried food and ammo, but sooner or later, the kids are going to outgrow theirs and mom and dad will appreciate having a nice, fresh set. Ditto for bras.
Battery-powered CD player & CDs
There’s just something about beautiful music for defusing tension and calming nerves. I put this in the category of “Sanity” when it comes to packing emergency kits and making survival preps at home.
Seriously. Do you really want to be 100% conscious wrapped up in your silver emergency blanket, huddled in the back seat of your mini-van for hours?
While it’s true you can’t stock up on enough toilet paper to last indefinitely, but you can stock up on a year’s worth. I’ve done it. Use coupons and store sales to bring the price down. Keep track of how many rolls your household uses in a month, multiply by 12, and you’ll know about how many rolls you’ll need. Some have argued in favor of using cloth wipes in lieu of TP, and this isn’t a bad idea in general, but it will require the ability to bring a few gallons of water to a boil at least 2-3 times per week, and then dispose of the resulting “black water” in an area that won’t contaminate ground water or growing, food-bearing plants.
Preparing for natural disasters, nuclear war, complete societal breakdown, doesn’t mean we have to lose our sense of humor. In fact, your sense of humor should be #1 on this list! Don’t ever hunker down in your bunker without it!
This article was originally posted in June, 2009 and has been updated.