The top X items that will disappear from the shelves when something horrible happens

So how many lists have you seen along the lines of that title? Five, 6, a dozen? 50 items, 100 items–crap, if something bad enough happens the shelves in every store of any description are going to be stripped as bare as, well, pretty doggone bare. If you don’t believe me, get on YouTube on look for the videos of people stripping grocery stores ahead of snowstorms or hurricanes. These are events that we know are relatively localized and where outside help will be coming, at some point at any rate.

Imagine what your local Big Box Mart is going to look like within a few hours of Whatever Big Event Makes Everyone Realize We’re Screwed. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the thing myself.

But these lists can serve a purpose, and that is to help your thinking about things you may have missed. Yes, you’re supposed to have lists of lists and all that, but how many of us actually do that? I’ll admit I haven’t. I should, but there is always something that–squirrel!

I’ve had a few tabs open for weeks, and this list of 72 items is one of them. I left it because it’s one of the ones that seem to have some small amount of thought in it. However, in the interest of helping you preserve your capital for the important stuff and give you even more to mentally chew on, I’m going to fisk this thing.

  • Bottled Water: Don’t buy it, store it. Use old soft drink bottles or 55 gallon food grade blue drums (or better, both) and store the stuff out of your tap. Have at least two ways on hand to re-purify the stuff when you need to tap into the supply. If you use the barrels, you’re going to need a pump (two is better) or keep them in racks and then have taps for them.
  • Cooking oils, powdered milk and all storable foods: Nothing wrong with any of this, but for heaven’s sake, store what you eat, eat what you store and don’t store more than you can eat before it goes off.
  • Jerky: Only if you make your own. I’ve seen good steak that costs less per pound.
  • First Aid Kits: No, no and no. Get advice from someone like Patriot Nurse or Doc Bones and Nurse Amy and build your own. The pre-made kits are usually junk.
  • Wines and Liquors: I wouldn’t. While they may make good barter goods, you don’t need the temptation and that particular sort of barter good makes you a really tempting target while not doing you a lot of good if you can’t barter it. If you want to make tinctures, store Everclear or high-proof vodka and skip the rest.
  • Tobacco products: Ditto.
  • Gas Masks: Please, put the money into N95 masks instead. At least you may find those useful. If you really need gas masks, you’ll probably going to die anyway. Seriously.
  • Construction Supplies: They mention a lot of things, but not nails, screws, nuts, bolts and so on. Without them, the rest will be somewhat difficult to use.
  • Clothing: Again, they mention certain kinds of clothing, but you’re going to be wearing out and using up all kinds of clothing. You’re going to want a deep closet if whatever the Big Problem is lasts for a long while.
  • Candles: Only if you have no other choice, and this goes for any sort of fuel burning light generating device. Why? Because you can burn down your house, and there will be no fire department to call if you have an oops. Learn ways to make light without flames. Solar landscape lights are great for this. Stock up on extra ni-cad batteries in the appropriate sizes for when the originals wear out.
  • Insulation: A big roll or two of bubble wrap will be handy. Stick it to windows for extra insulation in cold weather, peel it off and save it for re-use when it warms up.
  • Bicycles: Darn skippy! Mountain bikes or similar will be best, because the roads won’t last forever. In my book these will be a better option than horses for a long time.
  • Generators: Only useful until the fuel runs out. Bear that in mind. This also goes for any fuel-powered vehicle or tool. Consider how you’ll be cutting wood when you run out of gas for the chain saw. (Or you run out of bar oil, or the last chain runs out, etc.)
  • Firewood: One of my three biggest security items. I like to have 3-4 years worth cut, split and under cover. If things go bad, you might not have time to deal with wood for a year or two.
  • Solar power: I’d only do it on a small scale in order to keep communications gear, minimal lighting, minimal refrigeration etc. available. Buy good parts, such as panels and batteries, and spares of everything–there may well be no resupply in your lifetime.
  • Gold and Silver: Only if you are so squared away on everything else you can do it without shorting other things.
  • Motorcycles: See Generators and Bicycles.
  • A grain grinder (grain mill): Definitely get one of these as soon as you start storing whole grains. You have to have a way to process those grains.

I hope between Sevenpod and me we’ve given you more than enough to get your juices flowing. And have fun with it, because if this isn’t enjoyable for you, you won’t be able to make it a lifestyle.

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