10 Survival Items that Will Fly Off Shelves When the SHTF

Most of our readers will definitely fall more on the prepared end of the spectrum than your average citizen. And it is unfortunate, then, that these average citizens that will place such a terrible strain on supply lines when a sudden and unfortunate SHTF situation strikes society.

The shelves of every store will be stripped bare of survival necessities in no time flat. What kind of items will fly off the shelves in a regional or large-scale emergency?

The bare minimum essentials needed to support life as most people know it, things like bottled water, food, batteries, ammunition, gasoline, propane, hygiene supplies, soap, toilet paper, and baby items.

When the chips are down, these are the immediate “life support” items that people will scour the countryside looking for in the immediate aftermath and onset of a long-term survival situation.

Chances are you already have these items stocked up in abundance. But if you don’t, or you have just been caught flat-footed by an event and need to start your survival cash from scratch right this second, keep reading and we will expand a little more on each of these items.

No Time to Waste

Have you ever rushed to the grocery store ahead of an approaching front of bad weather, something like a major storm front or a blizzard?

You remember how packed the store is with everyone in there trying to get a few last minute items, you know, just in case? Imagine how much worse it will be when something truly terrible is happening.

While it is instinctively understood in a time like that, that the longer people wait, the worse and worse their chances will be of getting the things they will desperately need in order to endure a long haul survival situation.

And don’t get derailed asking what “long haul” truly quantifies; consider that most citizens don’t even have enough survival supplies to last themselves and their families three days! A situation lasting only a week or two will seem like a very, very long time without these supplies.

It is obviously essential that you keep these supplies on hand, but just in case you need to plus-up real quick along with everyone else or start from scratch because of catastrophic loss you had better have your shopping list in mind and be ready to make one heck of a quick pit stop when the balloon goes up.

Time will be short, and the stakes will be high, so get in and get out with the following survival items that will be literally flying off the shelves before your eyes.

10 Survival Items that Will Fly Off the Shelves

1. Water

Water is crucially important for survival, and the only thing you consume more important than it is air!

Many people focus disproportionately on food when they get caught out at the onset of a survival situation, but they rarely stop to think that they can survive for weeks and weeks without food, but only a few days without water.

While it is true that you can get water from all kinds of places, most found water sources require considerable purification before they are safe to drink.

It would not do to drink an unknown, sketchy water source in desperation, only to come down with some life threatening illness because of it.

The topic of water filtration can fill books all on its own but you can get yourself in a much better position by obtaining a hefty supply of pure, clean bottled water.

You should buy whatever you can at the instant if this is a rush trip, but otherwise multi-pack bottles or large multi-gallon containers are probably your best bet for convenience.

Remember that each person needs at least a gallon of water per day for both consumption and general hygiene!

2. Food

Food is definitely a survival essential, even though I just got done saying you can go for weeks without any food and still not starve. That is true, but consider that most people will begin to physically and mentally deteriorate (and deteriorate rapidly) after just a few days without it.

The business of survival will require energy, and the best way to supply your body with energy is by keeping the calories rolling in. It also does wonders for keeping your spirits up!

Chances are your daily menu is going to change somewhat for the duration, and you should not be buying strictly based on preference but buying for longevity.

You want to get food that is completely shelf stable and easy to prepare, preferably items that are in sealed pouches, cans or otherwise packaged in such a way that they require no refrigeration.

Remember, any event that has sent you scrambling to the store is probably going to result in a power outage if it hasn’t already.

Grab yourself some canned meat, soups, vegetables and other staples, and you will be okay for a time. Don’t forget you can raid the camping aisle for dehydrated meals that work great as survival food, and only require some hot water to prepare. The panicked masses might not think to look there at first.

3. Batteries

Batteries are an essential source of power for other survival essentials, most importantly your flashlights and radios. Since the power is most likely going to be out for quite a while, you will be plunged into darkness that is not typically experienced by the average person living in modern suburbia.

Additionally, where other modes of communication will fail, radio is likely to persist and will be one of the most reliable ways to get updates from the government and other relevant agencies concerning the state of things during the disaster.

Take the time to write down or commit to memory what size batteries your devices take and how many. It is generally helpful if you can standardize for one or two sizes, but this might not be possible. Now is also the time to identify what other gadgets require disposable batteries so you can get them all in one go.

Get more than you think you will need, as you’ll be relying on your tools more than you might think at first- even if you are being miserly with the power. Most flashlights, even those with comparatively low output using energy efficient LEDs will still burn through batteries with shocking rapidity.

4. Ammunition

It is a sad commentary on human nature that the predatory elements of our society will often take advantage of disruptions in law enforcement and utilities for their own gain, taking advantage of those who are vulnerable.

Accordingly, you’ll always see major spikes in ammunition sales and consumption ahead of rough times, including natural disasters.

You are wise to have a firearm to protect yourself and your property, most especially when you will not be able to count on the police to effectively suppress bad guys, and be everywhere when called.

They will have bigger problems just like you. But the gun will do you no good without the ammunition so you’ll need to swing by the sporting goods counter or the gun shop on your foray.

Now is not the time to be picky when it comes to load or projectile; take what you can get, and be glad you have it. If it is generally reliable in your firearm we will call that good enough!

5. Gasoline

All of our readers living in hurricane-prone areas will already be well acquainted with the impending scarcity of gasoline every time a hurricane threatens. The same ethic will apply elsewhere when things are bad enough!

While it is true that America has an effectively limitless supply of gasoline when you consider the sheer amount of crude oil we have at our disposal and in reserve, the amount of gasoline available at any one time, or rather accessible at any one time, is indeed limited.

Gasoline is a fuel made viable only when many cogs of industry and commerce work together, both for production and for delivery, and the amount of gasoline that is in your town sitting in those giant tanks beneath every gas station does not add up to as much as you might be thinking.

Those gas stations are entirely dependent on daily or twice-weekly deliveries in order to meet the impossibly thirsty fleet of consumer vehicles that purchase it.

You need to be ready for this eventuality by keeping your vehicles topped up, first, and second by having a spare gas can or two ready to fill up at the first sign of trouble.

That gasoline might be all you can get for the duration, and the added range it provides your vehicle or extra time at furnishes to your generator, might make the difference in whether you survive or not.

6. Propane

This is another entirely mundane, common fuel that will become vanishingly scarce in a surprisingly short period of time when disaster looms.

Propane is most commonly thought of as a fuel for outdoor barbecue grills but it is also used in portable propane heaters, heaters that might keep you and your family warm and toasty when the power runs out, and other supplies of heat are damaged or disrupted thanks to the event.

In many ways and in most places, propane is even scarcer than gasoline for the average consumer. Most folks get their propane from corner gas stations through a tank exchange or purchasing a fresh, full tank for their use.

Propane tank filling stations and services exist in most locales, but they are far from common and are usually located remotely from commonly traveled areas for obvious safety reasons.

Even if you are able to reach one in a short period of time, chances are the people manning the station might have “abandoned ship”.

So long as you aren’t trying to grill indoors, a propane grill is an excellent option and a convenient one when it is time to prepare food, boil water or do anything else that you would normally do on your stove in the middle of a disaster situation. Don’t get caught out, and plan on nabbing at least two tanks of propane.

7. Toilet Paper

Toilet paper is one of those things that you don’t miss until it’s gone, as everyone who lived through 2020 painfully learned.

Any prepper that is worth the name will be able to improvise a solution for wiping their behinds and private parts using any number of things, both man-made and natural, but it will be better if you didn’t have to improvise at all. Trust me, your family will thank you.

The solution is obvious: simply stock up on toilet paper and you need to grab at least a package and preferably two while you are in the store on an emergency errand.

Even if the event you are facing has knocked out sewer service entirely, or even damaged your septic tank, you’ll still be glad to have toilet paper even if you are not flushing when you go.

It is just one of those things that makes life a lot more pleasant, even in the middle of a major emergency. Consider grabbing baby wipes, too, while you are at it.

hygiene stockpiles: toothpaste_tampons_dishwasher_detergent paper napkins deodorant sticks
hygiene stockpiles: toothpaste, tampons, dishwasher detergent paper, napkins deodorant sticks, and more

8. Hygiene Items

Everything you use for your nominal, daily bathroom routine fits in this category. Think deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine hygiene items and the like.

Also, if you or anyone in your family requires specialty items, like pads or briefs for incontinence, catheters, denture fixative and so on make sure you get them now.

Quite a few items in this category are actually very difficult to improvise compared to other things on this list, so you definitely don’t want to be caught out with a short supply when trying to survive a major happening!

9. Soap

The value of soap can hardly be overstated. Keeping clean is not just the stuff of social nicety as it is critically important for keeping disease and other maladies at bay.

Not to mention it will do nothing to help your morale or the morale of anyone that has to live with you if you stink to high heaven a few days into the situation.

You can pick any kind of soap you are comfortable with here, and in a pinch any soap will do for getting your body clean. Traditional bar soaps are versatile, and can be broken down into smaller sizes if necessary.

They are not lost if they are dropped or their containers broken compared to liquid soaps and are generally easy to transport, and can make for good trade fodder in a pinch.

But if you prefer liquid soap, especially hand soap in a pump for convenience, you should grab a few bottles. The most important thing is just to have soap on hand for keeping bodies and other surfaces clean!

10. Baby Supplies

For those that have an infant or a toddler a running checklist of what baby care items you have on hand is probably never far from your mind. Indeed it is impossible to plan and prepare too much when it comes to care of the little ones!

Tiny children will be even more vulnerable and dependent during a SHTF situation then they are normally, and that means you had better have plenty of what you need on hand.

You should pick up all the baby supplies you know you will need, and a few that you wouldn’t anticipate needing. Make sure you grab a package of diapers, formula, rash creams, and other over the counter medicines, changing pads, and so forth.

Most stores don’t have an abundance of these items in stock at any one time, and depend on constant resupply so work fast because they will disappear fast.

You should also know that these items are among the most hotly contested and quickly consumed during a purchasing stampede so if you have a little one at home prioritize these items above everything else on your route.


There is bound to be a run on the stores whenever a major disaster or other society shaking event occurs.

If you are low on any given item on this list or through negligence or mishap are starting from scratch make sure you get into whatever local store will have these goods and to get them before they disappear. The longer you wait, the worse your chances of procuring what you need.

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13 thoughts on “10 Survival Items that Will Fly Off Shelves When the SHTF”

  1. for YEARS my family laughed at me because i had gotten into prepping then the pandemic hit and stores in this area where stripped bare and they where left with scrambling to find the basics needed to survive and me ? I was fine a little short on ammo but that’s it – now its me that’s laughing

    • Yep! 🙂 I would tell all the two big missing items:pet food and medical supplies/vitamins/coffee.Dont just think survival for family,think trading/barter items.Also should have many emergency mylar blankets,maybe flaregun and hollowpoint ammo.

  2. Minor addition to the toilet paper/hygiene section……get a couple small pesticide sprayers (the kind you hand pump to create pressure) and use them as a redneck bidet. Not ideal but tolerable.

    • At a rustic campsite in northern Michigan, one campsite had two, dark colored, 2 gallon tank sprayers in the sun on top of their picnic table. They were being used as solar heated water tanks and then used for warm water spray showers.

  3. You can generally find extra flashlight batteries in the kids toys, clocks, carving knives, tooth brushes, etc. but you need a flashlight that can use what you find. Here’s a link to an article that lists, by brand and part number, flashlights requiring just one battery (one D-cell, one AA, one AAA, etc.). For $20 you can assemble a bunch of flashlights that require only one battery AND can use just about any battery you locate. The listing starts at 2:17. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv7Bx6usT-g

  4. I like the idea of a sprayer for a bidet .in a long term emergency I would filter water thru a tee shirt then boil water too many people think a high quality filter is the best way but it won’t get rid of bacteria and the expensive filters won’t last long.In a long term emergency I would use shake flashlight’s that use no batteries or free sunlight.


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