One of the very first things I did when I adopted the prepping lifestyle was a walk-around inventory. This was years ago and although I had not consciously considered myself a prepper at the time, I discovered that I had a lot of stuff, but it was woefully disorganized and lacking in many key areas.
For example, I had lots of canned goods, supplemental lighting, off-grid cooking devices, tools and more. On the other hand, except for a 55 gallon water barrel and a small first-aid kit, I was sorely lacking in water and medical supplies. My how things have changed!
Since then, I have learned a lot, shared a lot and made a number of prepping mistakes. Taking them all in stride, I now look back with and am amazed by the knowledge I have acquired since taking that initial stroll around the house to inventory my stuff.
But as I often say, prepping is a way of life and there is always something new to learn, tasks to do and gear to purchase. Today I share a list of things I initially overlooked when putting together my preps. These are useful things you you may not have thought of while planning for a disruptive event, be it a short term emergency or a SHTF situation where you will be on your own for weeks or months.
The great thing about these items is they are budget-friendly and, in many cases, things you may already have stashed around your house.
6 Things That Will Be Useful if the SHTF
1. Aluminum Foil
A few rolls of aluminum foil will serve you well in an emergency situation. You can use foil to fashion cooking utensils or to line your pots and pans before cooking so that you do not have to waste precious water while cleaning up. If you do cook on you pans directly, a crumpled up piece of foil can be used as a handy scrubber to remove the crusties.
You can even use foil to create an impromptu Faraday cage.
There are a lot more uses for this handy stuff such as wrapping stones in foil, heating them by the campfire, then using them to heat up your blanket or sleeping bag before going to bed. Once your put a mind to it, you will wonder why you had not thought of including aluminum foil in your survival kit before now.
Hint: Most of the space it taken up by a roll of foil is from the inner core so buying the 200 foot rolls gives you more for the space it occupies. Try stuffing the inner core with other items so the space is used efficiently.
2. Disposable Eating Utensils
Unless you live near a lake or stream, chances are that water is going to be precious. Even a 55 gallon water barrel or two will only go so far and you will want to reserve that water for drinking and cooking. Paper plates and disposable utensils (forks, knives and spoons) are the answer and will only set you back a few dollars.
Better still, invest in a spork or a set of utensils for each member of your group. Let each person hang on to their own eating utensils so that they can re-use them over and over again.
3. Laundry Equipment and Supplies
You are going to need to have tools and supplies for hand washing and drying your clothes. Sure, you can wear a shirt and pants for a few days without worry but hopefully the undies and other unmentionables will be clean. And who wants to wear dirty socks?
Consider setting aside a tub or bucket and plunger (don’t discount using a plumber’s helper if that is what you have) or better yet, one of these mobile washers. An old-fashioned washboard may also come in handy.
And for washing, how about a bar of Fels Naphtha washing soap? It is light weight, portable, and does not take up a lot of space. As good as my DIY laundry soap works in a machine, when you are the machine, nothing beats a bar of soap for rubbing, scrunching and stain removal.
Hint: If you are buying cheap clothespins from big box stores, look close at them, there are two sizes, 3.25 inches and 3 inches. The bigger ones are made with a bit thicker wood and a lot stronger springs than the small ones, and are a lot better at holding laundry on the line, especially if it’s wetter because it’s not been spun out, or heavy clothes.
4. Cooking Grate or Grill
Depending on your facilities and the number of mouths to feed, cooking over an open fire may be a real possibility. Even if you are using a rocket stove – either home made, an Ecozoom, Solo Stove or other type – an open fire may still be needed for grilling freshly caught fish or game or for long term simmering if stews and chili’s made with your stored food items.
It makes sense to set aside a cooking grate with your preps. This can be a wire oven rack or re-purposed grate from a discarded barbeque. Check thrift stores for a deal.
5. Sanitation Supplies
Funny how people forget about the basics. In addition to a supply of TP, how about some old tee-shirts cut up into squares to use when nothing else is available? In addition, you will need some feminine supplies for ladies and diapers for the little ones. If the sewer or septic system is inoperable, you are going to need a buckets and some large heavy duty plastic bags to use as a liner so you have someplace to do your business.
Additional Reading: How to Prep for Feminine Hygiene Needs
Here is another thought. a heavy duty bag full of human waste is going to be very heavy and awkward to carry, even if set inside a bucket. An empty #10 tin will make the perfect urinal that can be used by both sexes. Use the plastic lid to control odors between potty sessions.
When it is time to dispose of the liquid waste The advantage is that it is small enough to easily carry outdoors to dump or store for disposal at a later time.
6. Mops and Brooms
Keeping things neat and tidy as well as clean will help mitigate stress. Having a decent mop and broom will be invaluable for cleaning up after a flood, fire, or even a dust storm.
Consider a heavy duty push broom, a heavy duty straight broom and a good string mop for cleaning up serious messes. To save money, check out local restaurant supply stores ort warehouse club stores such as Costco.
The Final Word
As you look over this list, it may occur to you that many of these items are already available in your pantry, closet, garage, or basement storage area. Even if you don’t already have these items, none are overly expensive. Even the cooking grate can be improvised from an oven rack or you can purchase one at a second hand store.
The moral of today’s article is that when and if the time comes, it will be comforting to have the basics covered so that you can spend time worrying about important things such as safety, security, and the overall health and well being of your family.
Sometime over the next few days, why not walk around your home or apartment and seek out items that will be useful in an unconventional manner in an emergency. Add them to this list and of course, share your ideas in the comments below.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Note: This is an updated version of an article that first appeared on this website in 2012.
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Bargain Bin: Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article.
Light My Fire Titanium Spork: A “spork” is a spoon-knife-fork combination utensil. I have wanted one of these for the longest time so I finally ordered one. I chose the titanium over non-BPA plastic because I thought it would be more durable.
Paracord Planet Mil-Spec Commercial Grade 550lb Type III Nylon Paracord: An ideal all-around utility cord in the field, paracord is tough and long lasting. It is made from 550-pound test nylon and features a seven-strand core for maximum strength. Also, it is manufactured in the United States. Note that some colors may be more expensive than others. Need ideas? See 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.
Mobile Washer: I love my mobile washer which serves as a hand operated washing machine. Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub.
Wood Clothespins: Cheap as all get out ($9 for 100 wooden clothespins) and imminently useful for lots of things, including handing laundry on a paracord clothes line.
EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove: Burning twigs and pinecones, this stove will cook a big pot of rice in under 20 minutes. The stove is solidly built and will burn charcoal as well. There is also a version that only burns biomass for slightly less money.
Laundry Drying Rack: I own a laundry drying rack which I keep on my deck. And when the weather is nice, I use it.
Columbus Pail Size Washboard: For about $20 and some elbow grease, this old fashioned washboard will get you by if no machine – or electricity – is available.
Love My Antibacterial Bamboo fiber Reusable Menstrual Pads & Panty Liners: These reusable pads are perfect for light and medium flow days and even some heavy days. Also consider Heart Felt Bamboo Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads and these for those heavy flow days: Love Green Bamboo Reusable Sanitary Pads Normal/HeavyFlow.
The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 45% off sometimes a bit more.
Every family should have at least one Tote-able Toilet. I have priced purchasing the bucket and toilet seat lid separately and found that it was more economical to pick up this kit. I have filled my portable potty with sanitation supplies plus, of course, plenty of TP.
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A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.