When I think about preparing for a SHTF event I think about many things, from security protocols and group dynamics to gardening and livestock (even though I don’t know a thing about animal husbandry). I also think about those many, many supplies that we’ve come to rely upon that would be darn hard for the average Joe like me to make on my own.
That said, I do understand that there is plenty of information on the Net that will show you how to do and make darn near anything if you’re so inclined. Heck, I’ve got several hundred or more links in the “How to” Knowledge Base dedicated to it and, of course, there’s YouTube. But, to be honest, I probably will never attempt 95% of what I have listed… not because I’m lazy but because I don’t have to!
More importantly, I’m probably better off not trying to make most things myself. After all, should I really try to make my own aspirin if I can simply purchase plenty of what I might use for years on end right now? That’s not to say I should never learn how or that I shouldn’t bother to understand which herbs, essential oils, or foods can be used as a replacement for aspirin, I certainly should.
Regardless, I’m of the opinion that if I need an aspirin then I NEED an aspirin and I don’t want to be messing around with grinding up an herb concoction if I don’t have to. Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t bother with learning a wide assortment of skills that could come in handy post SHTF+1. I am saying that there are plenty of supplies we should have on-hand that, for the average person like me, would be darn hard to make. With this in mind, here’s my list:
1. Medications (both OTC and especially Rx) – Like I mentioned above, I know there are plenty of alternatives to modern day medications–perhaps even better options in some cases–but I wouldn’t want to rely on most of them if I don’t have to. This is especially true for those who rely on life-sustaining medications. The obvious problem is that you simply cannot purchase years worth of many prescription medications. You can, however, slowly build up a stockpile and even talk your doctor into your way of thinking so that you can purchase more medications you rely upon. Work both of these angles and you’re at least on your way to being better prepared for SHTF. Over-the-Counter medications, on the other hand, can be readily had and purchased at dirt-cheap costs relative to their usefulness in a post-SHTF world. I suggest you get plenty… and then buy more. And if you store them in foodsaver bags or mylar bags they will last that much longer.
2. Glasses, contacts, hearing aids, etc – Our senses are something most of us take for granted, at least until they no longer work properly and then then become absolutely precious. More importantly, the ability to see and hear, for example, are critical for emergency situations and just trying to stay alive in a SHTF situation. This is so true that I’ve even contemplated purchasing an assortment of inexpensive prescription glasses for SHTF even though I don’t currently wear any… who knows what my situation might be like twenty years down the road. If you do already rely on glasses, contacts, hearing aids, or dentures then it behooves you to ensure you have backups for backups and whatever supplies you need to keep these things in good working order.
3. Clothes and shoes – Yeah, I know there were cobblers and seamstresses once upon a time, but I would say these are becoming lost skills… I know I couldn’t sew a shirt properly to save my life. 😉 Besides, it’s not like the fabric that you need to make clothes comes out of thin air either… that has to be gathered and processed too and I don’t have a clue how to do that. Likewise, shoes are a big deal too. I’d imagine they’re a bit easier to piece together than actual clothing but I really have never tried. That said, I could probably makeshift sandals relatively easily but good quality boots are another story altogether. And let’s not forget those of us who have growing kids, do you have enough clothing and shoes for them to grow into for years to come? I don’t.
4. Ammunition – I know it’s quite possible to reload ammo but that sounds like tedious work to me and, of course, you’re going to need all the equipment and supplies to do it. Eventually this is something I will want to get into but not right now. In my opinion, it’s best to have plenty of what you could expect to use already on-hand since ammunition can last a lifetime if kept dry. While I’m at it, you may as well include firearms in the “darn hard to make” category too. How much? You’ll have to decide that. Besides, can you really have too much?
5. Gasoline, diesel, propane, kerosene – I know people will learn to utilize alternative fuel sources and there is such a thing as biodiesel and even a wood gasifier but I don’t honestly see me successfully utilizing any of those without some serious help from somebody who knows what they’re actually doing. To be honest, I see reliance on most anything that uses any form of fuel for the long term to be difficult for the simple fact that these fuels will either run out, be cost-prohibitive, or perhaps both. That’s not to say you shouldn’t rely on an wide assortment of equipment that runs on fuels in the short term, I certainly do, but if your entire life is built around their existence (like most of our lives currently are) then you and I are going to be in for a world of hurt when they’re gone. For the short term you can stockpile quite a bit of fuel to see you through and be better off than 99% of those who failed to stockpile any.
6. Batteries (of all kinds) – Do you know how to make a battery? One that is honestly useful, that is? Again, I don’t. If you expect to be able to run a mini-fridge to keep your home-brewed beer cool or even to run a few LED lights so you feel slightly normal when times are tough then you’re going to need some serious battery power, most likely in the form of deep cycle batteries. Sure, solar panels and wind turbines are necessary too but it’s the batteries that smooth everything out. Have plenty for your needs.
7. Tarps and plastic sheeting – I don’t think one could have enough tarps or thick plastic sheeting as they seem to come in handy so often, from creating makeshift shelters to temporary home repairs, blackout shades, and even as part of solar projects. They can be turned into makeshift awnings or be used to cover your garden during potential frosts and protect firewood. Tarps are a good thing and ever so versatile.
8. Hand tools – Tools like quality hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, axes, and plenty more are always needed and will last a lifetime if treated properly. And the best part is they’re the right “tool” for the job. For example, I could eventually hammer a nail with a rock but why cause myself such grief when I can simply have a few hammers around to do the job right? Or what about removing a basic bolt without a wrench, a screw without a screwdriver, and so on? The same could be said for any other typical hand tool as well. Look at local garage sales I’m sure you’ll find plenty to choose from if you don’t already own what you need.
Obviously, the above list isn’t exhaustive but should be considered more of a good start to get yourself thinking in the right direction about what things we often rely upon that not only make a job soooooo much easier but are just darn hard to make post-SHTF.
What items would you include?