After TSHTF – Uncommon places to find supplies

In a significant TSHTF incident—there may be a need to obtain additional supplies. This need may come from having to replenish your stocks over time. Also—you may be caught away from your cache or traveling—and need to access these valuable items.

Once the “event” occurs grocery stores will be completely out of food within hours. If there is power—lines will form and gas stations will be out of fuel quickly. The most obvious sources for certain items will already be picked thru. There are a couple of places that may get overlooked. These are Office Buildings and Manufacturing/Industrial Facilities.

Office Buildings—Take a look as you drive around your area and thru your town. There are lots of office buildings of varying sizes. If TEOTWAWKI has occurred—there are certain supplies that are common in offices that many will not think of. Here are a few examples:
Food via vending machines, employee refrigerators, and desk drawers.
Water via office supply rooms, employee offices, and possibly large plastic water jugs for office pure water dispensers.
First Aid supplies via office first aid kits. Some prescriptions may be available in employee desk drawers.
Incidentals such as pens, pencils, paper may be available as well. Cups and paper plates, napkins as well as coffee and coffee filters most likely can be found.

Manufacturing/Industrial Facilities—Often overlooked, many manufacturing and industrial facilities are a gold mine packed with supplies. Many of these businesses are located on the outskirts of towns in large warehouses—away from neighborhoods. Here are some of the items that can bee found at manufacturing and industrial facilities:
Fuels such as gas, kerosene, and propane are often stored. Propane is commonly used by fork trucks—so check the shipping/receiving departments. Gas is utilized in a variety of tools such as gas powered water pumps as well as generators.
Batteries are often in large quantities for use in flashlights and some small tools.
Generators were just mentioned and could be a great find. Often used for powering tools in locations where power outlets are not available.
Tools of course should be available and in great supply.
Food, water and first aid supplies should be available much like in office buildings. Many manufacturing facilities have larger well stocked first aid kits—and often in multiple locations depending on the size of the building.
Vehicles may also be available as company cars/trucks are sometimes found at these facilities. Finding the keys would be the challenge however I would check the shipping office first.
Communication Equipment may also be found. Quite often the maintenance departments use walkie-talkie’s to communicate. You may find these radio’s sitting on their chargers in the maintenance shop.

Note: I am in no way suggestions theft is ok with this posting. What I am talking about is in a true life-threatening situation where it is justified to obtain supplies by pretty much any means possible.

Never underestimate the ability for the unprepared to overlook – make sure you don’t.


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38 thoughts on “After TSHTF – Uncommon places to find supplies”

  1. Better yet, have food stocked up so you don’t have to fight for some old Funyuns in the local widget manufacturer’s breakroom. I appreciated the disclaimer that this is only OK in a total destruction of society SHTF scenario. Otherwise it’s someone’s property you’re stealing.

  2. Good post. I get the caveat about doing this in a total collapse scenario. It’s useful information for people to know places they might not even think about for supplies for survival. I might need to incorporate this hint into the sequel to the Brushfire Plague! 🙂

  3. For what it’s worth we talk a lot about being armed to protect us from the “zombies” after SHTF but if we go scavenging WE become the zombies and our risk of encountering violence goes up dramatically. This is not a good idea. I will accept the premise that there will be a lot of “stuff” left unprotected and someone will undoubtedly take it. But I do not accept the premise tha it is either a good idea or safe. I am a peaceful person who chooses to har no one. However in a real and total breakdown of society I intend to use deadly force to protect myself and my property. I do not intend to step outside my front door and follow some sort of post apocolypse “Marquess of Queensberry” rules. I will hide and if I determine the threat to my life or property requires that someone must die so that I can live I will do it without warning or attempt to make it a fair fight. They say you do not even hear the sound of the gun that fires the bullet that kills you. I am not sure I can adequately justify this action to most people in good times but I feel confident that post WROL most people will agree and act accordingly. The bottom line is I don’t want to be on someone elses property carrying off someone elses stuff once TSHTF.

  4. Thank you Rourke, for this very informative article. I agree entirely with SPRBAD, being an emergency responder for 10 years myself. There is a BIG difference between grid down and end of the world, and it is my humble opinion that folks who have never had the challenging responsibility of providing for a family while maintaining their professionalism and moral integrity will find it quite difficult to really understand the idea behind this. I have a wife and 3 children for whom I am the sole provider. And the ambulance just doesnt pay all that well. We prepare for uncertainty and help others as the Lord places them in our path, but should the end of the world come, and our preps run out, I cannot watch my children starve. It is articles like this one which give us ideas of how not to become the “zombies”, and attack our neighbors in desperation for what they have. The Lord gave me a brain so that I can plan for the worst, but also so that I can think on my feet.
    I am a man of morals and I like what you have to say, Rourke, keep it up.

  5. Guys – Re-read the first line. I may should have established the situation better – however… it is again:

    In a significant TSHTF incident—there may be a need to obtain additional supplies. This need may come from having to replenish your stocks over time. Also—you may be caught away from your cache or traveling—and need to access these valuable items.

    I am not talking about “looting” or “stealing”. I am talking about survival. This is a grid-down, likely societal collapse where by supplies are needed. The office building or manufacturing facility that once flourish would be an uninhabited structure. No one is going to work or punching a time card.

    Of course common sense should prevail. If there is any resemblance of common, everyday life – do the right thing. If civilization had fallen and we are existing in a WROL-type situation – then the right thing would be to care and provide for yourself and family.


  6. Good advice….any ideas to help people to survive must be noted…most people have never had to go without..try it…no food…or no water…you will soon get over any reservations…and to Al…with your attitude…you won’t have to worry about survival….

  7. I’m taking the article in the manner it was intended, maybe as the result of a total EMP attack and those buildings would be (almost) forever abandoned. So I compliment Rourke for thinking “outside the box.” To survive we will have to scavage things from wherever we can find them, dumps, empty houses, sheds, junk yards for metal and even empty bottles along the roadside for water containers.

  8. Rourke, the context of your post was obvious. The information was good. Additionally, once nobody is responding from local Fire and EMS stations, the supplies and equipment stored there might as well go to some good use. Think medical supplies, power equipment, on board generators, bedding, and many of the already mentioned goods. Again, this is after a TEOTWAWKI event ONLY. You wont get in otherwise. To clarify, I have over twenty years in Emergency Services, if nobody is answering 911, take what you need to survive. We insist. Perhaps we should explain TEOTWAWKI one more time. Take care, GO PACKERS!!

  9. Thank you Rourke, I agree with you. During a significant TSHTF incident, I will do what is critical to survive and provide for my family. Many good Americans will run out of food, water, or fuel after a certain amount of time and that is when you will need to salvage. The folks who don’t can just rely on the government.

  10. Rourke,I thought you were taking time off for TG?? Smile-yes I hear your good ideas.The people affected by Superstorm Sandy still cannot drink public water from the NYC supply- so prep hard while you can.
    Have a good TG everyone. Arlene

    • Arlene –

      I am. I already have everything scheduled for the week. This article I actually wrote a couple years ago.

      Take care – Rourke

  11. Great post and the context was well set in you opening paragraph, as SPRBAD said, some folks clearly do not understand TEOTWAWKI. Some, well prepared folks still seem to think that TSHTF will only happen when they are at home with all their supplies.

    As you mentioned, retail stores will be striped clean with in a couple of days, possibly hours, and will be a flash point for violent confrontation. With the prevalence of JIT (just in time) stock management systems used by retailers, wholesale suppliers would not be too far from their customers. I have made a point of getting to know where some of these Wholesalers are in my area, along with medical and first-aid Wholesalers, Hardware and Builder’s Providers, Meat packaging plants and Motor Factors ( car spear part Wholesalers ). My previous job had me visiting the Port, along with it container depo and two smaller fishing harbers only 45 mins drive from the my City outer limits. I have also firmilurised myself with the local Haulage companies.

    These would be last resort, worst case, consideratiions. I have supplies at home, in both mine and my wife’s vehicles and would hope to ride out any short to medium term SHTF events, however should the crisis extend to long term or worse be compounded, by say my home been distroyed along with my supplies or I am away from my home during the crisis, I have contingencies!

  12. It isn’t my intent to simply disagree. When you’re right you’re right but when you’re wrong you are wrong. So I respectfull still disagree. I will concede that like anyone I will do whatever it takes to survive but short of needing what is on someone else’s property to “survive” I wll not go there. And I repeat that I don’t intend to be standing at my front door on in the driveway to scare people away from my property in a SHTF and/or WROL situation. I don’t intend to shout warnings or be “fair”. If someone comes to my house to take/salvage my stuff I will shoot them. Harsh? I am sure that the looters/salvagers will “test” me and others before coming in force. I cannot afford to fail that test. As I said I’m a peaceful person can you imagine how the more aggressive people will react? My advice is don’t let the belief that it isn’t looting so I can “salvage” it because you will be the Zombie and someone, probably in hiding, will shoot.

    • QWTW –

      I hear you. Hopefully the local Girl Scout Troop doesn’t try to trade some girl scout cookies for some toilet paper, cucumbers, or antibiotic ointment and get riddled when they approach!! 🙂

      Take care – Rourke

  13. Tell the truth, Rourke, you got this idea from Jed. I agree that during the most extreme crisis/disaster situations, people may be forced to do things beyond what they would consider acceptable in normal times. This includes salvage, looting or scavenging from abandoned businesses and warehouses. Call it whatever you want. Justify it with life or death. It is still theft. I am not saying that I would not do, if in that situation. I do believe that I would be very leery about my approach. I would not enter such place without doing elaborate reconnaissance. I would not go in unarmed. I don’t think that I would sneak in, either. If the place was occupied, by the true owner or merely someone who beat me to it, it may be best to announce your presence and intentions. That way, if there is someone inside, they can tell you “haul ass” before a gunfight erupts. Who knows, you may end up bartering or teaming up with them? I frequently think of the interaction between strangers in any WROL situation. I fear there will be a lot of unnecessary violence. Everyone will be on edge. Hunger, pain, confusion and fear have influence that most folks have never experienced. Some have learned these lessons from Hurricane Sandy. I would like to think that I could just post a sign that says “Leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone”. But, I know that won’t happen. There will be people so desperate for food, water or medical supplies, that they won’t care how many times you stay “Stop”. There will be people trying to extort supplies, setting up road blocks and charging a tax to get through. TEOTWAWKI is a scary thought, indeed.

    • Irish-7,

      “TEOTWAWKI is a scary thought, indeed.” – 100% correct.

      Actually – I think Jed got the idea from me as I first published the very same article back in June of 2010.

      Thanks – Rourke

  14. RE GoneWithTheWind

    Not to dismiss you believes, but your replies are misleading; you state,”I will concede that like anyone I will do whatever it takes to survive but short of needing what is on someone else’s property to “survive” I wll not go there.” which in essence agrees with with what is been. You the go on about looting, and zombies and warding off looters.

    The whole idea of ,”Uncommon places to find supplies”, is so that we are not raiding our neighbour and avoiding wild west style shoot out.

    TEOTWAWKI, force all of us to re- evaluate our morels and believes…. Again we are talking worst case here, not just a short term inconvenience!

    PS: Rourke, thanks for the great blog, I’ve leaned a lot from your posts and thanks to all who post comments as well. All very informative and though provoking.

  15. Dude, Get your battery now or save the used battery out of your car the next time you need a new car battery. Or use the one in your car in an emergency. A car battery, eve a used one is the single most useful item needed to power low voltage / low currently lighting. second to that would be a small solar panel (5 to 20 watts). you can get a 5 watt panel for 20 dollars. Do it now while you can.


  16. Here is the rest of the gadgetry:


    65 hour run time flashlight. I turn it in to a 360 hour flashlight. It’s easy:
    Or go DYI micro solar
    Emergency Led Lighting Made Ridiculously Simple:
    No batteries & no shaking or cranking:

    Did you notice how many views the instructable about dead car batteries had from the link in the comment above? It’s going to be a prepper trend (micro-solar for camping at home)

  17. Sprouting
    I made few really simple sprouters out of 2 plastic stackable cups and a lid from a jar of instant coffee. You get more than enough sprouts in one set up in 3 days to double the volume of a can of progresso soup. So with 3 you can have a batch of sprouts every day. I have made sprouts from several beans / seeds such as lentils (10 years+ old) mung beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans etc (I don’t like pinto beans):
    You get more than enough sprouts in one set up in 3 days to double the volume of a can of progresso soup. So with 3 you can have a batch of sprouts every day. This is probably one of the most important things a prepper can do to make sure they have enough food. Buy lots of sprout able beans and seeds and have a way to sprout them. Dehydrated foods become bigger when you re-hydrate but there is a limit. After that limit is hit you are just watering down dehydrated food, With sprouts, they are dehydrated to the limit in about 12 hours. After that they grow. So you potentially get a lot more food with sprouts than with other dehydrated foods. A few cubic feet of mung beans and lentils is a massive amount of food. The point is to have enough of what you really need so you don’t have to scavenge. You may still have to at some point but I would feel a lot better if I new I had done due diligence ahead of time.


  18. ~ I was just thinking this the other day when I went to pick up pet food at our local ‘grange co-op’, which ours has more than just feed for livestock, pets etc …also has hardware, tools, some bulk ppl food too. Has garden plants and gardening supplies. Camping, tarps, ropes etc and more ~ so I thought to myself ..while everyone is loading up on those last minute (or in the article aboves case ..maybe later restocking) Id check our local Grange, Big R or Bi Marts first ~ 😉

  19. I had another thought, not really related to above post, but that had popped up by the news of the unsanitary conditions of the aftermath of Sandy. Has anyone thought about dealing with the smell of living in and around stagnant and contaminated water, no toilets working, garbage collecting and possible dead things decaying? I was thinking a good thing to have in one’s travel pack or in supply are some tall waders (like fly fishermen use) disposable face masks (the paper kind, that slip over your ears) and something to put on and around your nostrils to stop or disguise the smell (what is the stuff the professionals who deal with dead things use to put on their nostrils?) Its morbid but I actually found myself gagging as I watched some aftermath footage from Sandy and what people had to walk thru …and I think its a good thing to also prepare for …when preparing for emergency situation or living in the aftermath.

  20. Before you jump the gun GWTW you may want to jump over and read how someone who did live through a TEOTWAWKI. He never thought he would have done some of the things he had to do ever. The real world is for real not some game.

  21. I don’t see businesses or office buildings being overlooked as possible sources of supplies. I can see people getting shot breaking into places they think are abandoned or deserted. Justification works both ways after all.

  22. Personnaly, I think Rourke is a big boy and can defend his own ideas/opinions/soap box diatribes, but in this case it is obvious that what we have here is a “failure to communicate”.

    A – the supposition is that the scenario is truly one in which you and your family’s personal survival depends on acquiring supplies which you do not currently have. It really does not matter how well prepared you are there are certain situations which you will not have sufficient wherewithal to survive without additional “stuff”.
    B – as noted in the post, the supplies in question would be found in office buildings, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and other commercial facilities (nary a home or personal residence mentioned in the post). Personally, I would look for smaller schools (meals prepared on site instead of a central district wide facility).
    C – you are not such a moralistic idiot that you would simply stand by and watch your family die because you refuse to take what is simply sitting unguarded and unused.

    A+ write up Rourke.

  23. El –

    Thanks for the comments.

    “mutant Satanic Nazi biker gang” – I am going to have to steal that and use it in the future.

    I understand your point and agree – it is much better to stock up than to not have and either live without, or go find.

    Thanks – Rourke

  24. Are you certain they are actually “Mutant Satanic Nazi Biker Gangs”? I thought they were “Mutant Satanic Nazi Biker Cults” and that is where the acronym MSNBC originated.

  25. That’s great, Harry. Although I absolutely loathe most of the liberal, Main Stream Media, I probably hate MSNBC the most. What a remarkable similarity in the shape of Chris Matthew’s face and Obama’s “4TH Point Of Contact”.

  26. I want to add some input to the radios that may be left sitting around in industrial complexes.

    Oftentimes those radios are operating on a band of very specific frequencies assigned by the FCC to a particular business. If all you need are a few radios to communicate, that may, or may not, be an option. If they operate in simplex (radio to radio) they may work fine as long as you remembered to grab the chargers as well.

    If the radios operate through trunking (repeater set up on the site) they will stop working as soon as you get out of range of the repeater. If the electricity is out the repeater may lose power immediately or last until the backup power fades.

    Most radios that use a trunking/repeating system have a setting to allow them to operate simplex. Some are easily accessible but others require connection to a computer to access the settings.

    I don’t say all that to discredit the authors work at all. Only to let everyone know that you should prepare BEFORE things fall apart. What might seem a quick solution during the storm might not be worth the risks and dangers involved to obtain something that will not work anyway.

  27. I battle with stocking more than a few weeks, living in a suburb. I wonder, even if raiders don’t burn our neighborhood ( approx. 1000 houses 10 feet apart). Will some fool down the street let a child or pet tip a candle over and torch 1000 houses in a matter of a few hours. With out fireman no matter how prepared all stocks will burn and even if I make it out, I just became a refugee. Not trying to be negative, as I can not afford to leave in the near future, I am concerned. I hate the thought of bugging out, but well prepared to do so. I know if u do not have the means and a well stocked zombie proof shelter most people stand very little chance of survival bugging out although I will try my best. I just think the idea of stocking up and learning some relevant skills is not all needed to survive. It will also take a tremendous amount of luck!

  28. In the event of a complete collapse of society (which will eventually happen as history teaches us), I’d get my family and myself away from densely populates areas and even small towns. Because I know how to hunt, fish, garden and build a comfortable shelter. in the bush….I wouldn’t need to risk my life to raid for leftovers. Medication on the other hand I would have to do so.


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