A guest post by Liz Long.
It’s easy to focus on just one area of preparedness and to only buy the things that can easily be picked up during your regular shopping trips. That’s an important part of getting prepped, but you also need to think about things that aren’t as easy to get because those are the things you will be totally unable to get post-SHTF.
Think about what is available, or not, in developing countries or countries whose governments/economy have essentially collapsed. Getting boot-leg DVDs is often quite easy but a good DVD player or TV is not. Getting alcohol is always possible, but getting good alcohol is a different matter entirely. (Even if you don’t drink, alcohol is and has always been a good item for bartering, bribing, and gifting.) Simple home-spun fabrics are easier to get than high tech materials like GoreTex. There are a lot of variables and categories of items to consider when you think about what to stock up on if the SHTF, but the most important boil down to need, availability, and price. These will be different Now than they will be Then.
What kinds of catastrophic events (earthquake, flood, hurricane, nuclear attack, wildfires, etc.) could occur near where you live? What items would you need to deal with these events? The basics you need for a day or two aren’t generally very expensive, they’re easy to find in brick and mortar stores, and there aren’t that many items you really need.
Many times, long lists of disaster preparedness supplies are more generalized in nature and meant for longer-term survival. While important, if you don’t have the items to survive the initial hit, then it doesn’t matter if you have the rest. One of the basic items for a nuclear attack is Potassium Iodide. I bought full courses for $10 per person. Considering its long shelf life, the cost of many over-the-counter medications, and how nasty radiation poisoning is, this is a bargain. It is also something you need to buy (probably online) Now because if there is an attack, it will be too late Then. You can get heavy mil plastic and duct tape easily Now so you can cover doors and windows quickly Then, but you won’t be able to run to the store for supplies if there really is an attack. Ditto supplies to cover your windows before a hurricane or to use post-earthquake. If you don’t buy these things Now, you might not have a choice Then.
There are also things you do not need Now but expect to need Then, such as a water purification system, heirloom seeds, and camping gear. Some of these things are very expensive, including a generator and good camping tools and supplies. It is easy to put off buying them because of the cost. However, they will not only be very expensive Then, but they will likely be unavailable, and you will not be able to buy them at all. Can your family survive without them? If the answer is yes, then go to the next item on your list and breathe a sigh of relief. If the answer is no, then you need to figure out an alternative or a way to buy them while you still can.
Here are some examples:
- If you plan to Shelter in Place and already have plenty of winter blankets for your family and any extended family, or if you live in a warm climate, then you probably don’t need to worry about winter sleeping bags. But if you need to get to a retreat or to family and may be pressed into driving there during the winter, or you live in a location with severe winter weather, those sleeping bags should be a high priority.
- We all need some form of generator if the SHTF. For our home, solar-powered isn’t a good option and a whole-house generator would use too much fuel. We plan to buy a small to medium size generator and only use minimal electricity for battery chargers, the fridge and other light use. We will turn off everything else, except the ceiling fans in the summer. We are also getting solar powered items (particularly flashlights and lanterns) whenever we can. We will use the wood-burning fireplaces to heat the house in the winter, or at least augment the propane heat. Buying a smaller generator and having a plan to augment it lets us avoid buying a big one.
- There are also items that you will definitely need in the near to mid-future no matter what happens, but Then your only options will likely be used or comparatively low-quality
products, if you can even find them. While you probably won’t want to buy your kids clothing ahead for more than a year or two, if you find jackets, boots, jeans, or sneakers on sale that will suit them as they grow, you have that much less to worry about going forward and you will use them no matter what. You’ll be amazed how fast a pair of sneakers here, some jeans and socks there (on clearance, of course) add up to enough clothing for a season.
While my family has stocked up, we’ve made sure to buy harder-to-find items early on, as much as we can. If it becomes clear that the S is about to HTF, there will almost certainly be a small window of time in which those who are paying attention can still buy additional food, fuel, and basic medical supplies. What you will almost certainly NOT be able to do anymore is buy things like topographical maps of your area, Quick Clot, or a field surgical kit. You will be able to get some pasta and canned goods at the grocer, but not long-term storage foods like dehydrated butter and cottage cheese. While waiting until the last minute to stock up on any groceries or medications you use regularly would clearly be unwise, hopefully this will help you think about other areas where your family needs to start stocking up sooner rather than later.