Once initial water and food is secured, you’ll want to create an ongoing supply. Staying healthy is also important, that’s where first aid kits, vitamins, medicine, and personal hygiene products come in. Click here if you were looking for the top food items.
These are the Top 5 inedible items on my disaster preparedness list.
1. Light Source
You need to see. You may reduce the need for lights by adopting a schedule that starts at daybreak and ends at sundown. Still, there will be situations that require light.
Batteries don’t last forever, and can be tricky to come by in times of crisis. Other than the obvious flashlight I do recommend keeping an array of alternative light sources. Candles and oil lamps come to mind; however only self powered hand crank or solar-powered lights can be used indefinitely. Having a generic solar charger that can be used with a range of devices is handy.
LED lights are more powerful, last longer and use less electricity than traditional lightbulbs.
While not strictly a light source, (waterproof) matches can also be handy.
2. Means of Cooking
Not all food in your supplies will be ready to eat; some will require heating or cooking to prepare.
In times of crisis the first things to go are electricity and gas. Having means of cooking that do not rely on infrastructure is important.
Propane gas stoves are portable and easy to use. Keep a healthy stock of gas cylinders.
On the long term it’ll inevitably come down to cooking over an open fire. Make sure you have cookware that’s suitable for such cooking. A wok, kettle, cauldron or stewpot, could be all suitable. A dutch oven can be used for both cooking and baking.
The material of choice is cast iron. Make sure there are no plastic, wooden, or otherwise perishable parts to the cookware. That includes the handles; if it’s plastic or wooden it will break sooner or later.
Some kind of support fixture will be required to keep the cookware in place over the fire. A few bricks are handy to contain the fire. Have enough waterproof matches to last until you learn to start a fire without it.
Cooking over an open flame requires practice. Having a family cookout is a fun way to practice disaster preparedness cooking.
3. First Aid Kits, Medicine and Vitamins
A well stocked first aid kit is a must. You may want to go beyond the obvious first aid items. Recent history shows that pharmacies sell out of critical products at the slightest hint of a crisis.
US pharmacies were out of Iostat for months after the Japan nuclear disaster in March 2011. Iostat contains potassium ionide. It’s a pill that blocks the thyroid from absorbing radiation. It was certainly needed it Tokyo, but not in the US. Yet it was all sold out stateside within hours of the news.
Make sure you have allergy medication if there are any allergy sufferers in the family.
Vitamins should be also considered; it may be a while after a crisis before you can have a balanced diet again. Especially fresh fruits and vegetables will be difficult to come by.
Cold medicine, and medication for common conditions may also be a good idea.
4. Garden Seeds
You don’t need to be an active gardener to have some on you. You’ll get the hang of it fairly quickly if it becomes the only way to provide food for your family on an ongoing basis.
Most modern seeds are hybrids. They maximize yield but can’t reproduce. Seeds taken from a hybrid plant – if any – will not grow. Only non-hybrid seeds will let you collect and successfully cultivate seeds from the crop. There are online retailers selling non-hybrid seeds in #10 cans, sealed for long term keeping. Some have multiple varieties of vegetables, along with instructions; the perfect disaster preparedness kit for beginners.
5. Personal Hygiene Items
Maintaining good personal hygiene is an important part of keeping healthy. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and similar hygiene items will be among the first to sell out during a crisis.
Historic fact; In England, during the Second World War, production of soap and shampoo was outright banned. Any and all production capacity was to be dedicated to the war effort.
Even without a ban, these items are difficult to come by in a crisis situation. Making them a part of your disaster preparedness plan is a good idea. Don’t forget feminine hygiene products for the ladies. Matter of fact, delegate responsibility for this category to the women in the family, if possible. They know better, anyway.
+1. Toilet Paper
It’s the ultimate barter item. Whatever you want you can get in exchange for toilet paper. Hard to believe? Try going without it for couple days and you’ll see what I mean. Newspaper and leaves get old very quickly.
These are the top 5 non-edible items on my survival preparedness checklist. There are of course many other necessary non-food items. If you don’t have any disaster preparedness supplies, any item is a good place to start.
For all food and non-food items, plus items covering safety and shelter, I recommend you check out Damien Campbell’s ebook, “Sold Out After Crisis”. It’s a concise, well-written manual about all the items you don’t want to be without. It has helped me tremendously when creating this site. It gets to the point and gives you an action plan without having you go through endless pages of complications like many other books.
Feel free to expand on this list in the comments.
Emergency preparedness checklists continued: