Once you start on the journey of preparedness, it seems like there is no end. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself constantly asking the question, “What have I missed?” Each potential new disaster you hear about provides more fuel to the fire and more ideas about what you need to stockpile. But even with that, it’s still possible to miss something.
Even after my years as a survivalist, I’m still looking for more. Every new article or book I encounter with a list of “must-have” survival items is carefully analyzed, as I look for holes in my own stockpile. While some of these lists offer ideas that are more focused on maintaining your mental health, others offer some really good ideas. Still, I find the best ideas come from analyzing potential disasters and how I would handle them.
Through the years I’ve come up with my own list of “unusual” items that I’ve collected as part of my preps. Many of these came about from trying to meet a specific need that I encountered, but that doesn’t mean that these items are only useful for that one need. In many cases, they have come to meet multiple needs.
1. Bike Trailer
If you’re planning on getting water from a nearby pond, stream or canal, you’re going to need some way of moving it to your home. With the power out, you won’t be able to get gas for your car. That means having some other way of moving all that heavy water.
The easiest way I’ve found is to put a trailer on my bicycle. I can carry up to 20 gallons of water at a time (160 pounds) without much of a problem. Although, I’ll have to say, I wouldn’t want to try that much weight going uphill.
2. Eyeglass Repair Kit
If you depend on eyeglasses, like I do, the last thing you’ll need is for something to happen to them when the power goes out. Lost screws or nose pads can render glasses all but unusable. A couple of bucks for one of those eyeglass repair kits is a good investment to keep you seeing clearly.
3. Insect Repellant
Nobody in their right mind goes camping without taking along the insect repellant; but I rarely see a survival kit list where it is mentioned. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like adding any more hardship to my life than needed. If the power is out and I’m having to do more manual work outside, the last thing I want to deal with is hungry mosquitoes. (Learn how to make all-natural insect repellant.)
4. Bug Spray
While we’re talking about bugs, a good stock of bug spray is a good idea, too. Rodents and some species of insects tend to flourish in the aftermath of a disaster. They won’t know that your home is off-limits, unless you make it a deadly zone for them. Forget the zombie invasion; be ready for the cockroach invasion. That one’s much more likely.
5. Mouse and Rat Traps
I guess I could just say ditto to what I said about bug spray. Mice and rats are unwelcome guests in my home, especially in my food stockpile.
Speaking of being able to be comfortable, some good sunblock can make a lot of difference, especially if your skin burns easily, like my kids’ skin does.
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Without power, we’ll probably be spending more time outdoors, especially in the summertime. A good coating of sunblock will make it much easier to work out there, without having to suffer later for it.
7. Baby Wipes
Anyone who has had kids knows the true value of baby wipes. Yes, they’re great for what they were invented for, but they’re also good for sticky hands and a wide range of other cleaning tasks. Be sure to buy the anti-bacterial kind, so that you get the most benefit out of them.
Have you ever noticed how shoelaces tend to break at the worst possible time? This is one of those necessary items that nobody thinks of, until they break. But you may not be able to run down to your local store and grab a pair. Remember, you won’t be wearing your dress shoes to go to the office; you’ll probably be wearing tennies and work boots. Those provide better protection for your feet and ankles, anyway. But they won’t provide much support if the laces break.
9. Gas Pipe Wrench
If your power is out, you may need to shut off the gas for safety. For that matter, there’s a good chance of your gas pipes becoming damaged with a number of different types of natural disasters.
Being able to shut off the natural gas at the meter could save your home from disaster. But it takes a special wrench. Do you have one?
10. Bucket Wrench
Speaking of wrenches, do you have a wrench or opener for five-gallon buckets? Many in the survival community are using them for food storage, but few bother with an opener. I can open those buckets with my hands, but my wife can’t. What is she supposed to do if something happens to me?
11. Wind-up Clocks and Watches
While time may not be as important when we don’t need to catch a bus or get to work on time, we’re used to using time as a means of organizing our lives. But without electricity, many of our clocks will stop. Our digital watches and battery-operated clocks will work for a while, but even those will stop when the batteries wear out. On the other hand, while it may not be as accurate, a simple wind-up clock will at least tell time.
For that matter, a watch that doesn’t need batteries is a great asset. I’ve got one that my daughter bought for me that automatically winds whenever I move my arm. That helps, as I’m pretty good at forgetting to wind it.
Speaking of time, what about calendars? Are you going to be interested in when it’s Christmas or when your kids’ birthdays roll around? If so, you’ll need a calendar to keep track of the date. You may no longer be able to count on your cell phone or newspaper to tell you what day it is.
13. Plastic Bags
This one may be a bit obvious, but few people actually stock up on them. Get yourself a good stock of high quality plastic bags in all sizes. Not only are you going to have trash to deal with, but they’re useful for storing all types of things.
14. Aluminum Foil
Here’s another obvious one that many people overlook. While plastic wrap is OK for sealing up leftovers, aluminum foil is better. Not only that, but it can be used for a lot of other things, including making solar cookers and as an emergency cook pot.
15. Dog Treats
If you have dogs, chances are that they aren’t all that well-trained. If they get out the gate, do they run or do they stay near the house? If they run, then they aren’t well-trained. The easy solution to the problem is to have a means of attracting them back home. That’s where the dog treats come in. Few dogs can resist, allowing you to catch them.
For that matter, dog treats can be used on strays that are wandering around and causing problems. If you have a threatening stray in front of your house, you could get it to be much less threatening by giving it a treat.
16. Manual Push Lawnmower
Are you planning on allowing your lawn to grow up and get out of control? If so, that’s fine; although it imposes its own problems. You can keep it in shape easily, though, if you have one of those old-fashioned manual push lawnmowers.
17. Bow Saw
Cutting firewood requires two things; one to cut it to length and another to split it. While a lot of people have an axe for splitting the wood, few remember that they need something besides a chain saw to cut it to length when there is no gasoline.
18. Manual Tools
Speaking of tools, we’re all so accustomed to using power tools that many of us don’t have many manual tools in our toolbox. What are you going to do if you have to cut a board or drill a hole? Do you have a manual way of doing that? If not, it’s time for a trip to the hardware store.
19. Candle and Lamp Wicks
People are stockpiling candles, oil-burning lamps and lamp oil for a time when the lights go out. But few bother with extra wicks. What happens when that wick burns out? How will you use your oil burning lamp then? Or what about that extra wax you have from those burned candles? Do you have the wicking to melt them down and make more candles? Wicking is relatively cheap and can help you keep your home lit at night.
20. Coleman Lantern Pump Repair Kit
If you have a couple of those old-fashioned Coleman lanterns, the kind you need to pump up, you’ll probably have about the best lighting you can find, without electricity. But have you got a repair kit for the pump? If not, when the seals go out, you’ll have a worthless lamp.
If you end up using an outhouse or even a five-gallon bucket for a toilet, you’ll need to maintain it properly. This includes keeping down the odor and insects. The best way to do this is to scatter lime over the waste. If you don’t have lime, you can use wood ashes.