When it comes to being prepared, there is a lot to think about. Generally, it is worthwhile to look at some important items that are often overlooked in the quest to build-up your stock of bullets, beans, and band-aids.
Some of you may have read my writing over the years at Backdoor Survival and other websites. My time spent conversing with a wide audience, and dealing with a ton of feedback, highlighted the fact that there are people who scoff at the idea of putting back basics like sheets for your bed or hygiene items beyond a bottle of soap, and a toothbrush or toothpaste. The truly successful prep from the mindset of doing without many things we take for granted that increase their chances of survival.
Prepping doesn’t have to be about depriving yourself of practically everything. While I fully support and recommend prioritizing what preps you stockpile, I also think you need to go beyond food, medicine, water, and ammo.
This list may seem like a lot, but the good news is that you can buy these things a little at a time. In fact, a lot of them are well under $20.
Parasite and Fungus Kit
In some climates, parasites and fungi are more prolific. During emergencies, they can become more of a problem no matter where you live.
Hookworms and pinworms were a lot more common among kids and adults. Even now, pinworms are common enough in children that they sell the treatment at most any drug store.
Fungi that cause ringworm, athlete’s foot, and candidiasis thrive in hot and moist environments. Since it can be harder to keep clean during difficult times, these problems arise more often among the general population.
A few years ago, I put together a kit for these problems. Most items on this list can be found either via Amazon or any drug store with a halfway decent selection. Other items have to be purchased via a site that sells animal meds.
I am not a medical professional. Perform your own research. Any of these items that you choose to use is at your own risk. Some of these things are only meant to be used during a very long emergency when no medical help is available.
Pyrantel Pamoate – This is often sold as Reece’s Pinworm Treatment. The cost is much higher than buying a large generic bottle of Pyrantel Pamoate. The difference is one is labeled for people, and one is not. The choice is up to you. I keep some of both because we have many animals that need to stay parasite free too.
Tapeworm Medication – This is something that you should never take unless you are sure someone has a tapeworm or if you have tried Pyrantel Pamoate and it did not work.
Lotrimin Cream or a generic equivalent of Clotrizamapole Ointment – the label says it’s for jock itch, but you’ll be surprised how useful it is for keeping your feet and toenails healthy.
Yeast Infection Treatments – This cream can be used to treat athlete’s foot, jock itch, or any candida surface infection.
Diflucan Tablets – This is the same drug that doctors prescribe for yeast infections, particularly ones that don’t go away with creams and suppositories. I hate taking these, but they work when no other treatment will. They make me feel dizzy and out of it, so I make sure to take them before going to bed.
Hygiene and Bathroom Needs
It is a lot more exciting to stock up on food and ammo than it is to think about washing your face and brushing your teeth. The truth is that during a long emergency, hygiene matters a lot. Even if you have antibiotics, you don’t want to use them unless you have to. Good hygiene prevents serious infection, illness, and long-lasting disease.
Fact is, before our modern times and readily available drugs, simple problems like a tooth infection killed people.
Here is a shortlist of items that you should have on hand. Most of these are items that you use all the time anyway, so you’ll have plenty of reasons to use them in the future.
- Inexpensive wash clothes. Some microfiber cloths are nice because they dry out fast.
- Wet Wipes or Baby Wipes. A few of these are nice, but don’t go overboard and try to store thousands.
- Soap that everyone can use. Dr. Bronnor’s Baby Castille is a good choice if you have family members with sensitive skin. The Peppermint version or Tea Tree are nice because each has extra antibacterial properties. I used the Peppermint version as a flea and tick shampoo for pets too.
- Feminine Hygiene Products
It is hard to have too many socks. A few packs of inexpensive athletic socks and a few more specialized selections, like wool socks, are recommended. We buy the big packs of cotton crew socks that fit a wide range of sizes. Over the last few years, a lot of brands have started producing polyester socks or blends, so if you want pure cotton be sure to look closely at descriptions. Synthetics and wool have their advantages if you are concerned about them getting wet under cold conditions.
If you know anyone that served in the military, specifically an infantry unit, they will tell you dry socks and dry feet are critical to survival. Constantly wet or sweaty feet can lead to extreme pain and worse. Consider keeping some foot powder on hand too.
It always surprises me how many people do not have shoes appropriate for manual labor or walking more than a short distance. Living on a farm means we have to have boots that can take a beating and have a good tread to avoid falls. I watch out for sales and Amazon Warehouse deals. I always stay at least one pair of boots ahead. Having a new pair put away makes a lot of sense and helps hedge against price increases to some degree.
Even if you live in sandals a lot of the year, you should at least keep a pair of hot weather military-style boots or hiking boots just in case.
If you have kids, then buy a size or two anticipating their growth spurts, and store them. You can always adjust the size of adult or kid shoes somewhat by keeping some insoles on hand.
- Packs of inexpensive t-shirts
- Several pairs of blue jeans (Before COVID, I shopped at Goodwill. I still use those same jeans. I could buy them for around $6 each, and they last for years.
- Rain gear
- Clothing appropriate for your region. Extra warm undergarments in colder regions, for example.
Shoe Repair and Maintenance Supplies
Getting the longest life out of shoes may become more important during hard times. Here is what you need for a basic shoe kit.
- Shoe Goo
- Mink Oil
- Sno Seal
- Brush and Rags
- Extra shoe and boot laces in various lengths
Entertainment and Morale Supplies
It sure is easy to get caught up with all the essentials when prepping and forget to take care of your mental health.
Everyone needs something to stay entertained to take the edge off once in a while. Books, craft supplies, SD cards with music and a method to play them, like an e-reader, are all examples of things that can help you keep a more positive mindset during uncertain times.
Those with children need to consider their entertainment needs and mental health too. A small treat or toy can make a big difference during a bad situation. I suggest everyone keep a plastic tote filled with “morale supplies.” Let kids and teens have some say in what goes in it, but consider a few surprises too!
Communication and Information
- Shortwave or HAM Radios
- Walkie Talkies
- Emergency Radios
A ham operator’s license requires some studying, but it is fairly easy to get. Even kids have passed ham radio exams. There are different levels of certifications depending on what you want to do. Of course, during a long emergency, it is unlikely anyone will enforce licensing laws.
Walkie Talkie radios are good to have as well. If you have a larger property, they can be great for communication between family members. No license is required, and you can buy them in quantity for a good price.
Do not scoff at some good old-fashioned paper, pens, and pencils for jotting down notes and making lists. If you are like me and enjoy writing, these supplies can double as entertainment.
Small Battery Banks
Keeping small devices like cell phones, e-readers, and tablets is fairly easy with small battery banks. Jackery is a brand I use, but there are a ton of generic brands that are fine too.
Even just a little backup power can make a big difference. Power centers have become a lot more affordable and lightweight. Older people living on their own can benefit from a small lithium battery power center rather than the heavier lead-acid versions.
I have featured Jackery power centers in the past. I support this brand because we have used them for years with zero problems, and they have an excellent warranty.
Solar panels come in many sizes and weights. Portable, lightweight panels used to be very expensive. Now you can get panels that weigh just a few pounds and offer hundreds of watts of power generation. Folding panels are great for those that are short on storage space too.
Extra Chargers and Cables
USB cables and chargers may seem plentiful now, but that should not stop you from stashing a few.
Rechargeable batteries do not last forever. They only have so many cycles in them. Over the years, we learned not all rechargeables are the same. Tenergy seems to be the most reliable when it comes to holding a charge.
I also suggest having some non-rechargeables. Sometimes it is nice to have batteries with a full capacity that won’t lose a charge if left in a flashlight or other device.
Animal Feed and Pet Supplies
A lot of people keep a month’s worth of food for themselves, but overlook putting back food and supplies for their pets or livestock. I am not saying these folks don’t care about their animals, it’s just not top-of-mind. The most likely scenario is that people will share their food with their pets, because the four-legged friends are part of the family. This means the human food runs out faster.
If you are short on space and just have a cat or a small dog or two, you can buy freeze-dried pet foods with a very long shelf life. They don’t take up much space at all. This is not necessarily a good idea for people with large dogs or a lot of them because of the high cost.
During the pandemic, even those with a lot of financial resources had difficulty finding pet foods at times.
Some dog food keeps better than others. Fancy dog foods that lack preservatives and those that are grain-free do not have the shelf life of less expensive foods. Unless your pet is very sensitive, you may want several types of dog food. If you feed fancy formulas, then put back a few months’ worth, and then keep some with better shelf life for longer emergencies. Purina Dog Chow is an example of a brand that is not fancy and keeps well. Diamond Naturals has an excellent shelf life when stored in the plastic bag it comes in. It is corn, soy, and wheat-free.
Rice and beans also stretch out your dog food supply. Consider storing a few extra bags of pintos and rice for man’s best friend.
Don’t forget flea and tick medications. Permethrin concentrate is shelf-stable and can be mixed into a spray for use on pets and livestock. Pyrethrin is the organic equivalent.
If you can avoid using lethal force, it is usually for the best. The term nonlethal refers to weapons that have a lower risk of killing someone. Though they can be fatal if used with enough force or used on someone with an underlying medical condition. Less than lethal is a more accurate term but not the term that is typically used.
- Pepper Spray or Gel
- Bludgeons like a baseball bat, club or a hammer
The type of tools you need depends on your situation, but everyone should have a basic household tool kit. You can purchase an all-in-one kit for most basic repairs. I highly suggest adding a cordless drill as well.
If you put together your own basic kit, I recommend the following tools at the bare minimum:
- Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
- Metric and standard sockets and socket wrench
- Cordless drill and batteries
- Allen head wrench set
Farm and Garden Hand Tools
I realize that some live in more urban settings where they cannot store nor have the need for a lot of farm tools. At the same time, a good entrenching or folding shovel is recommended. If you live in a rural or semi-rural setting, then you should consider a more extensive selection:
- Smaller gardening tools such as a trowel and hand rake.
What other preps do you think get overlooked?