50 Things that Immediately Disappear from Stores in an Emergency

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50 Things that Immediately Disappear from Stores in an Emergency via The Survival Mom

Have you ever noticed how, whenever a big storm is predicted, people start rushing to stores to clean them out of every food item and supply they have on the shelves? There’s a predictable list of things that disappear in emergencies.

In one sense, it’s probably good that they are trying to anticipate the emergency, despite being last-minute about it. It sure beats those people who don’t bother to prepare at all, then complain when emergency services are overwhelmed by requests for assistance.

But why panic in the first place? Why not have a stash of necessary items always ready for such an emergency? Even if there isn’t a storm approaching, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to rush out to the store every time you run out of toilet paper. Keeping some extra around the house is always a good idea!

With this in mind, a group of Facebook readers was asked to submit their own lists of the most important things for stocking up and what they’ve seen fly off store shelves when a storm or other emergency is on its way. This compiled list of their responses may not be the absolute first things for a store to run out of but are still items that you should consider having among your emergency supplies nonetheless.

Without further ado, here is a list of the 50 things that immediately disappear from stores in an emergency, compiled by several dozen Facebook fans.

Foods that disappear first

  1. Bread
  2. Butter
  3. Cereal
  4. Coffee
  5. Eggs
  6. Flour
  7. Fruit, canned and fresh
  8. Honey
  9. Meats, canned
  10. Milk
  11. Peanut butter
  12. Pet food
  13. Salt
  14. Sugar
  15. Vegetables, canned and root vegetables
  16. Water
  17. Yeast

Sources of power & light

  1. Batteries
  2. Candles
  3. Charcoal
  4. Coolers
  5. Flashlights
  6. Gasoline
  7. Generators
  8. Glow sticks
  9. Ice
  10. Lamp oil and oil lanterns
  11. Lighter fluid
  12. Matches
  13. Propane, propane stoves

Fun & diversions

  1. Alcohol, drinking
  2. Beer
  3. Cigarettes
  4. Condoms
  5. Candies and other sweets

First Aid & medicines

  1. Alcohol, rubbing
  2. Antiseptic
  3. Aspirin/pain relievers
  4. Cold medicine
  5. First aid kits

Hygiene supplies that quickly disappear

  1. Feminine hygiene products
  2. Paper plates/napkins
  3. Shampoo
  4. Soap
  5. Toilet paper
  6. Hand sanitizer
  7. Bleach

Baby supplies

  1. Baby food/formula
  2. Diapers

Supplies for improvising shelters and repairs

  1. Duct tape
  2. Plastic bags
  3. Plywood
  4. Radios
  5. Rope

Now, before you file this away as mildly interesting reading, take this list and compare it to what you have stocked up. Check to see what you may be missing or what you need more of. And don’t forget that this is only a Top 50 list, so there are plenty of other items that you have seen fly off store shelves in an emergency.

22 thoughts on “50 Things that Immediately Disappear from Stores in an Emergency”

  1. Mike the Gardener

    Great list. But I am always amazed as to why people grab all of the stuff that will spoil first in the event of a long term power outtage … i.e. the milk.. which is #10 on the first list.

    1. The Dollar Store in our nearest town, (55 miles one way) stocks boxes of milk, whole, 2% and 1%. We buy several of them and keep them in the pantry so we always have liquid milk. And there is no difference in taste. That store also advertises that if you can’t find enough quantities on the shelf, order what you want online and they can have it delivered to the store for you to pick up.

      1. You’re right. Boxed milk is so much better than powdered milk. We try to keep a good supply on hand.

    2. I was talking to a friend who worked in the meat dept and he was laughing at all the people stockpiling meat. This will spoil if the power is out for any period of time but they grab them with both hands.

    3. We call them “French Toast People”

      It’s like they run to the store and buy all the makings for french toast.

  2. I’m 100% on-board with the masses on this one. As soon as an emergency arises I start making french toast and won’t stop till my wife drags me away from the stove and pries the spatula from my cold syrupy hand. I need all the butter, eggs, bread, and milk I can get my hands on. French toast hoarding!!!

    Just kidding of course. But if you think about it, it makes sense for all the little problems most of us have encountered in our lives. Only inconvenienced for a few days – what will you “need”? The things you buy every few days, but won’t be able to get this week. Most of us have never been through worse than that. We’re lucky.

  3. I read this very same article a few days ago on thesurvivalistblog.net I suppose it is important enough to post on other blogs.

  4. Our main home is in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Each year there are public service announcements advising people to gather their hurricane supplies or check their existing supplies. I have a very well stocked food pantry in addition to the recommended hurricane supplies. And we keep our vehicle fuel tanks at least half full at all times. Each time landfall of a hurricane is predicted or there is a power outage of more than a few hours because of high winds or earthquake tremors (the local power company shuts down the power plants at the first tremor), local stores see panicked buying as people stock up on bottled water, rice, Spam, charcoal, milk, bread, flashlights and batteries. Small generators and battery-powered radios also sell out. And there are very long lines at gas stations.This despite annual warnings to prepare for hurricane season. My conclusion is that many people refuse to actually prepare and prefer to wait to the last minute and if they have leftover supplies from the last power outage use them up rather than storing them. How someone living a five-hour flight from the nearest large landmass and on an island heavily dependent upon slow cargo ships for delivery of almost all supplies can fail to prepare is beyond my comprehension. But I see this failure to prepare happen again and again despite annual public service announcement about gathering hurricane supplies.

    1. George Thomas Hubbard jr

      here’s a helpful hint on power outages you know those stick in the ground path solar lights they work great , pull them up , put into a vase , and return them outside to be recharged .

  5. I work for a grocery store, so I see a mild version of this first hand. I’ve been at the store 3 times in the past few years when the power went out to the neighborhood. Customers walk in the store shocked that we are affected by the power outage as well. The store has a generator to allow for limited usage.

    The customers don’t understand why we don’t have hot food ready for them because most of them don’t cook at home even when the power is on. We have an increase in sales when the power goes out, so we joke that the power goes out and customers run to the store. The weather changes and the same thing happens. Most are unprepared to go without electricty, or even a few days without a trip to the store.

  6. What? No chocolate or snack foods written on this list??? Those should definitely be in the Top 50!

    My husband and I took a walk through our grocery store just before a huge winter storm hit the East Coast this past winter. (The Governor was shutting down the entire state in anticipation of the weather we were expecting…no one would be allowed on the roads as of a certain time, with the exception of emergency personnel, or they would be fined/jailed.) It wasn’t that we needed anything at the store, but people had told us that store shelves were empty and my husband wanted to see it for himself. Coming from Canada, where it snows all winter long, people are almost always trying to be prepared. In all of my years growing up there, I never saw the shelves empty. That was not the case here. We were amazed that, as people have mentioned, milk, bread, eggs, bananas, and tomatoes were all non-existent (lots of other fruit and veggies though). The other areas that had dwindled dramatically were the snack foods, ice cream, and FROZEN WAFFLES of all things. We pondered that one for a while trying to understand why waffles would be such a critical item to people that they would wipe an entire section of the freezer bare.

    When people are aware of an impending situation, they seem to stock up on comfort items. People interviewed on the radio about their preparations for the storm repeatedly mentioned going out to buy snacks, cookies, beer, and other foods, sort of to ride out the storm like a party. I guess you may as well make the best of whatever is tossed your direction.

    In response to concerns for people going out and purchasing perishable items…it really depends upon what you are expecting. If it is a winter storm, by all means, grab all of the milk you want. Worst case scenario, you store it in a cooler in the snowbank that is rapidly accumulating outside your door. In a hurricane or summer storm, it wouldn’t likely be as prudent to stock up on foods that require refrigeration.

  7. Great post! Living in area of the country that receives its share of hurricanes and ice storms, I can tell you that these items go fast. Around here if you they utter the dreaded four letter word – SNOW- in the weather report ALL of the grocery stores will flooded with people buying bread and milk.

    When the hurricanes blow in, you won’t be able to buy a battery of of bag of charcoal for weeks.

    Another thing to consider is price gauging in the aftermath of a disaster event. It’s against the law in most states, but we all know how supply and demand works. Stock up!

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  9. ThePreparedNinja

    I think Tom did a great job putting this together but obviously no list can be all-inclusive. Some other items that I think I would add to this list include plastic sheeting(painter’s plastic), camping meals, lighters, boxed meals(hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, etc.), and fuels(gasoline & kerosene) to name a few. Reading this post and the other comments just really enforces the need to plan ahead and be prepared. Be proactive and not reactive!

  10. Pingback: The Survival Mom » Preporium

  11. Ice! In the summertime when you are at risk for storm power outages, a freezer with excess space filled with frozen water jugs will help keep the rest of the food in the freezer cold longer. (A full freezer takes less energy to run than a half empty one when the power is on as well.) We dump our ice maker out occasionally and store the ice in bags in the freezer as well, to use in our coolers for picnics or just for keeping the beer and pop cool while boating. In an extended power outage the fridge contents can be put into a large cooler with your extra ice dumped over. No air spaces means the food won’t lose their cool temperature quite as quickly.

    If you have an ice maker, put it to use now and stock up the cubes for later needs. You likely won’t score a bag of ice after the power has gone out after a storm.

  12. I appreciate the list and isn’t interesting what people will buy first. In this past year our water was shut off for several days and I was amazed how quickly bottled water ran out at our nearby store. It was an eye opener to me and since then we have had a power outage too and for both incidents we were completely unprepared. SPAM LINK REMOVED

  13. alvan williams atkinson

    Generally good lists. Bread and milk make sense if 2-3 days of cutoff from stores.
    Prolonged outage-catastrophe– meds, generator, fuel, beans, matches maybe canned meat, seasonings. Propane cook stove with Coleman L has been very helpful to us in the 3 one week outages in N.C. in 30 years. Light, cook stove, some heat. Core of a kitchen. Propane safe, easy to control. Stoves, lights not that expensive. 20lb propane tank probably last a month in cooking mode. Have extra tank for grill and can go inside or out depending on weather. Propane keeps indefinitely. Would keep outside in little shelter or under plywood and tarp. Instant coffee, hot chocolate powder– much positive psych.

  14. I worked in a supermarket in the bakery during hurricane Iniki in Hawaii. What we found so funny , all these people were buying frosted cakes. Hurricane party perhaps?

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