Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
What are the most valuable things in your home? For many of us, the list is headed by our electronics. Maybe you have jewelry or musical instruments that are near the top of the list as well.
But if a long-term disaster shuts down the grid, you might be surprised at how the value of things changes. A wall-sized flatscreen TV will mean nothing, while inexpensive everyday necessities that we take for granted will become hard to get.
You only have to think back to the hoarding of certain items – especially toilet paper – in the early days of the pandemic shutdowns to get an idea of this concept.
In addition to maintaining a food and water supply for a major emergency, it’s crucial to consider stockpiling the other non-food supplies we count on for daily life. Here is a list of inexpensive items that will be worth their weight in gold someday.
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1. Toilet Paper
You may have thought the social media videos of people wheeling our grocery carts stacked with toilet paper were funny. But you won’t be laughing when the stores are all closed and you’re out of this essential item.
You’ll need plenty of facial tissue to wipe runny noses if there is no running water.
3. Duct Tape
Just google “uses for duct tape,” and you’ll be amazed at all the reasons you’ll want to have plenty of this product around.
You can find a jar of petroleum jelly at the dollar store now, but this product will become high in value after a collapse. It helps fight dry and chapped skin and works as a lubricant for many household jobs, to name a few of its many uses.
5. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a workhorse for many purposes. You can use it to brush your teeth, freshen your hair, clean pots and pans, and absorb unpleasant odors.
6. Plastic Bags
From trash bags to sandwich bags, you’ll want a supply of plastic bags to help keep things tidy and sanitary.
7. Zip Ties
These work wonders for everything from fixing fences to securing items to your backpack.
Stock up on all the various sizes you need for flashlights and radios.
9. Paper, Pens, and Pencils
With the grid down, you’ll rely on written communication more than ever. Also, you’ll want an ample supply of these items to help keep you and your family busy when boredom sets in. Add coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils to the list too.
These portable tubes not only help soothe dry, chapped lips, but you can also use them for many other purposes, ranging from a fire starter to a zipper lubricant.
Socks are the number one items that homeless people say they need. When disaster strikes, you just can’t have too many warm socks in your stockpile.
12. Dish Soap
Shampoo, body wash, insect deterrent, and laundry detergent are just a few of the alternative uses for dish soap.
13. Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Dental health is a crucial part of our overall well-being. Have plenty of replacements on hand for your family members.
14. Hand Sanitizer
When water is in short supply, you’ll need hand sanitizer to cut down on harmful germs.
15. Spray Deodorizer
Cans of spray deodorizers, like Lysol spray, will help you fight the germs that cause viruses.
16. Matches and Lighters
Boxes of matches and disposable lighters will help you light candles, fires, woodstoves, and some gas stoves.
17. Over-the-counter Medications
Pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are likely to be in short supply and, thus, high in value. Also, consider stocking up on antibiotic creams.
18. Band-aid and Bandages
While we’re on the topic of first aid, don’t forget adhesive bandages and other types of wound dressings. You cannot expect pharmacies or urgent care centers to be open and functioning during a large-scale disaster.
You may need to spend more time outside than normal. Protect yourself and your loved one from harmful UV rays with sunscreen.
20. Rubbing Alcohol
You can use this inexpensive item as a fire starter and for first-aid cleansing purposes. It also helps soothe insect bites and rashes.
21. Propane and Other Fuels
That alternative power source won’t do you much good without the fuel to run it. You can’t rely on being able to buy some during a disaster.
22. Feminine Hygiene Products
These items are invaluable to the women who need them. Just ask any woman who had trouble finding them on local shelves due to recent supply chain woes
23. Baby Supplies
Diapers, formula, baby food, and other items for the care of an infant will be in high demand when stores are closed.
When the gird is down, you’ll want plenty of candles to help supplement your lanterns and battery-operated lights. (Many yard sales and estate sales have candles of all shapes and sizes for cheap prices.)
In addition to their intended use, condoms can serve as a small, portable means to carry water when the SHTF.
Having a supply of vegetable seeds on hand will not only help you grow your own food, but seeds also are a valuable bartering item.
27. Hand-operated Utensils
Manual can openers, phone chargers, radios, and the like will take on high value when the grid is down.
28. Water Filters
If the grid is down, the water supply will also likely be affected. Stock up on water filters to help purify water when you can’t boil it.
29. Solar Lights
Solar-charged tools and lights will be in high demand when the electricity is out.
30. Hunting and Fishing Supplies
When the SHTF, you may need to hunt and fish for your food. Supplies like fishing lines and ammunition will become very valuable.
31. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is inexpensive and useful for many cooking and food storage needs.
32. Antibacterial Soap and Wipes
These items will help you stay healthy and clean when water is in short supply.
33. Safety Pins and Sewing Items
For repairs to everything from clothing items to tents, you’ll want these inexpensive essentials in your stockpile.
34. Flares and Whistles
These emergency items will help you get the attention of rescuers if you become hurt or need help in any way.
Plastic tarps can serve many purposes during a disaster. For example, they can line the ground below a sleeping bag or serve as a makeshift shelter.
36. Tools and Building Supplies
Hammers and nails, screwdrivers and screws, rope, wire, saws, drills, you name it. Basic hand-operated tools and supplies will be needed during a widespread disaster.
37. White Vinegar
This inexpensive household item is helpful for many cleaning and disinfecting purposes.
38. Charcoal and Lighter Fluid
With the power out, you’ll want these items to be able to cook outdoors.
39. Laundry Supplies
To wash clothes and other laundry, you’ll need to have the supplies people used before washers and dryers were commonplace. Your list should include buckets, washboards, clotheslines, and clothespins.
40. Knives and Sharpeners
A selection of knives, as well as the files, stones, and steel to sharpen them, will be of high value. Also, consider multi-purpose tools that can be life savers in emergencies.
We’ve gotten to 40 items with this list, but it could easily go longer. For example, you won’t be able to use your plastic cards or access ATMs during a significant disaster. You’ll need to rely on cash and bartering to get what you need.
Your list might be a bit different, depending on where and how you live, your family size, and their ages. If you have elderly family members, you may need adult diapers rather than baby diapers, for instance.
As you go about your daily routine, start to think about all the small, everyday items you use. Then, add the things we’ve left out to your own list. But don’t worry—you don’t need to assemble everything at once. Instead, consider the list a goal and start building your supply, perhaps adding items each week.
Thanks for reading! If you're new here, I highly recommend reading this article which explains why civilization is going to collapse. If you're skeptical of climate change, read this article about why I reluctantly changed my mind.
If you want to start preparing, check out our list of free books and manuals and our list of recommended supplies. If you're feeling anxious about collapse, please visit the support page for tips on how to manage your emotions, places where you can get help, and lists of articles and videos on coping with collapse anxiety.