Holistic preparedness is equal parts skill-building and material preparation. If you have been prepping for any length of time, you have no doubt acquired a fair bit of gear already, and probably have a laundry list of more gear and additional provisions that you have yet to obtain.
No matter which way you slice it, you don’t want to be forced to live solely off of your wits and what you can scavenge or gather; your margin for failure will simply be too slim.
But no matter how diligent you are there is no other way to square it: there is just an awful lot of stuff to buy if you want to cover all of your bases!
And no matter how thorough your research, how careful your inventory and how particular you are when assembling your needed supplies and vital gear, there are just going to be a few things you overlooked. That is just the way of things!
Some of these items will be smack-your-forehead obvious when you think about them while others might seem inconsequential, even though they could be vital for covering a vulnerability you fail to plan for.
That is where we come in. In this article we will provide you with 10 commonly forgotten items that will further your survival cause. Maybe it slipped your mind, maybe you didn’t think you would need it or maybe your circumstances don’t make it totally mandatory.
Regardless, I’m confident you will come away with a different opinion when you read this article as I make a case for each of these items. We will get into the list below the break.
Before You Buy, Consider Your Specific Requirements
It seems like everything comes with a disclaimer these days, and the advice I’m going to share with you regarding these commonly forgotten survival items is no different. But before you take me out to the woodshed for being wishy-washy, hear me out.
One of my biggest and most urgent pet peeves all around but especially in the context of discussing personal readiness and survival strategy is the complete failure to include context in the advice given.
The context of one’s experience, challenges and solutions is really what determines whether or not the lessons or the advice received are viable.
Put another way, what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. Funnily enough, I also hate the common refrain of “it works for me!” When someone is challenged on their gear selection or procedures because it is much of the time an intellectual cop out.
But before I get too far off track, it turns out that there might be a grain of truth in that assertion. My solution for my problem might be subpar or even ill-advised for your problems.
I guess I’m just taking the long way around to say that the items on this list below might not fit into your survival plans at all, and you should not make a knee-jerk reaction and buy them just because some guy on the internet asserts that you should.
Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to bet that they will, in fact, be helpful because I see them forgotten about so much of the time in my travels.
Okay, disclaimer over let’s get on the list!
#1. Repair Materials and Tools
Consider it a helpful reminder that whatever disaster you are facing, whether it is man-made or natural, you might not be grabbing the kids and your gear before hopping in the car or hiking off to head for greener pastures.
Your best bet for surviving a situation of any duration could be to just hunker in place, taking advantage of what support network you have, as well as an intricate knowledge of the terrain and surrounding area.
But, because we are preparing for disasters of all kinds, it stands to reason that our home, whatever it is, might very well be damaged or even partially destroyed by whatever event took place.
Instead of just saying “tough” and living with it why not repair the damage, even if only to a journeyman standard? If you do nothing else keeping the wind and rain out of your domicile will go a long way towards keeping it habitable.
For this reason it is definitely a good idea to stock up on basic construction materials and the tools needed to put them to use. You don’t need to be a proper contractor or anything like that to affect rudimentary repairs.
Consider adding a good stash of high-quality building materials to your stores, things like common stock sizes of boards and plywood, common electrical wiring, all kinds of fasteners, plastic sheeting or heavy plastic panels and lots and lots of construction adhesive.
Throw in some duct tape and common hand tools, and you’ll be well on your way to making repairs to your home should they be needed.
It never fails that lubricants and other vital fluids that keep machinery running are chronically omitted from most preppers’ get-lists. Pretty much any machine more complicated than a pencil sharpener requires a certain amount of lubrication, both for normal operation and for the prevention of corrosion.
When lubricants are not added or changed at the prescribed maintenance intervals, efficiency starts to go down, and certain machines that go through a lot of lubricant will need more or less constant re-lubrication.
Take firearms, for instance. Even using the best oils and greases known to man, carrying a gun in the field or even just carrying it around your home on your hip in a holster means that that gun is going to require far more frequent lubrication than the one sitting patiently in your safe.
If you are carrying outside, and especially doing so in inclement weather or other hostile conditions, you’ll need to re-lubricate perhaps as much as once a day in order to assure good function of your firearm.
Lubricants are items that are highly dependent on complex and interwoven architectures of commerce for production, and that means the longer a grid-down survival situation goes on the smaller and smaller the available “pool” of lubricants will become.
You might not be able to locate and obtain them for long, and that includes the common “knowledge” of extracting it out of stalled or abandoned vehicles. Remind yourself that everyone else will have the exact same plan as you do…
Prevent this unhappy occurrence by stocking up on both general purpose and specialized lubricants.
Bleach is an outstanding survival item, and one that I scratch my head over when I think about how many preppers that I personally know omit this incredible chemical resource from their stockpile.
In fact, the amount of bleach that most people have is whatever they happen to have handy for doing laundry, and nothing else. Believe me, bleach is good for far more than just laundry, and if you are not familiar with its many survival uses, get ready for a quick class on the topic!
I have little doubt that you already know bleach is a very powerful disinfectant, and can be used straight or diluted we’re cleaning up all kinds of nasty biological hazards, including human waste.
It also makes a dependably potent hand-sanitizing wash for reducing cross contamination after using the bathroom, handling a dead body or some other equally unpleasant task.
But perhaps the most standout quality of good, old-fashioned regular bleach is its capability to disinfect water.
That’s right: Regular, scentless, plain bleach can be reliably and easily added to suspect water sources in order to disinfect them of bacteria and viruses.
If the water is particularly dirty or murky, it should be pre-filtered (at least as good as you can), but once that is done all you’ll need to do is add a small amount of bleach, agitate the water and give it a little time.
In fact, if you are disinfecting a couple of gallons of water, you will need a surprisingly small amount of bleach, and that means a comparatively small supply of it can go a very long way indeed.
Do keep in mind though that bleach loses its effectiveness over time, and exposure to oxygen is one of the chief culprits. Any opened bottle of bleach definitely has a ticking clock as far as that shelf life is concerned, but even unopened bottles will go stale over time.
Long story short, you’ll just need to remember to rotate your bleach supplies like your food or any other perishable good. Small price to pay for such an inexpensive, multi-talented and critical item if you ask me!
#4. Hand Pump, Liquid
You’ll have plenty of cause to obtain whatever vital fluids you can from wherever you can get them during a long-term survival situation. It could be water, it could be fuel, it might be something else, like oil or another lubricant mentioned above.
The point is you won’t always be able to dip your bucket in some gigantic swimming pool-size reservoir of whatever fluids you need. Things might not be bad enough for you to go through a significant amount of effort to get them, but then again they might be, and no contortion or exertion could be too great a cost to pay.
This is where you will need the right gear to efficiently and safely collect whatever liquid you are trying to get. That means you will need a manual hand pump suitable for collecting liquids.
With the right nozzles, enough tubing, and a little bit of room to apply some elbow grease, you’ll be able to draw a fuel out of a vehicle without crawling under the car to puncture the tank or slice the fuel lines, draw water out of a puddle or small depression without having to mop it up with a rag, and extract oil or other fluids directly from their tanks without resorting to the old dipstick squeegee method.
I will tell you one thing; it sure beats trying to siphon gas or highly questionable water directly from the source by mouth using some medical tubing.
It should go without saying, but make sure you don’t cross the streams on this one: If you just used a pump to nab some gas out of a stalled and abandoned vehicle don’t turn around and use that same pump to draw water right out of a pond. Cross-contamination is a thing, people!
#5. Fire Extinguishers
I know preppers who are getting ready for all kinds of disasters, from the mundane to the absolutely insane. Tornadoes, hurricanes, avalanches, super volcano eruptions, magnetic pole reversals, alien invasions, zombie uprisings, machine takeovers, gamma ray burst events, and everything and anything else you can think of.
But one thing that continually surprises me is how many people have failed to prepare for one of the most common and most devastating disasters that can personally befall them: A simple house fire.
A house can go from burning with a small fire to a raging conflagration in less than two minutes, and a house fire will be one of the most common threats in the aftermath of all kinds of natural disasters.
It is the very summit of insanity to forgo having the one, right tool that can help you put out that fire before it turns into a blaze that will consume your home and everything and everyone in it. I am of course talking about a fire extinguisher.
Bottom-line up front and no exceptions: You need ABC-rated fire extinguishers strategically placed inside your home, and make sure they are the largest that you and your family can handle effectively when seconds count.
Unless you are dealing with some really exotic stuff in your home, like flammable metals, a common residential fire extinguisher will handle everything you can throw at it until the blaze reaches a certain size.
Even if it is too late to save your house from a fire, your extinguisher might clear a path for you and your family to escape or buy you time for first responders to arrive, assuming they’re coming.
If you do not have modern, serviced fire extinguishers in your home you are wrong. Fix it!
#6. How-To Guides
You might be a switched on, experienced and knowledgeable prepper or you might not be. But one thing you can probably count on is that you won’t be able to count on trusty Google when the sky turns dark.
The internet is nothing short of miraculous, and we all benefit from having the sum of the world’s information at our fingertips riding along in our back pockets but the longer a situation drags on the more likely it is you’ll be deprived of this virtual Library of Alexandria. That is where paper manuals, guides and how to books come in.
Even if you are a prepper who has been around the block more than once and knows all the relevant survival skills and associated crafts inside and out, it won’t hurt you to have some general survival manuals handy, as well as guides and technical instructions for more complex subjects.
This way, when you are facing a task that is a little bit outside of your area of expertise or one that has some interesting challenges associated with it, you won’t be forced to resort to figuring it out on the fly or via trial and error.
With the right book and a little time spent pre-gaming the task, you can avoid repeated, demoralizing failures.
Even though the internet might be down, don’t discount the value of electronic storage, especially in this era of extremely efficient and compact solar chargers that can keep your electronics juiced up totally independent of the modern power credit.
You might be a bibliophile like me and adore traditional, bound paper books, but their weight and bulk makes all but the leanest or the most essential non-starters for mobile preppers.
Contrast this with any sort of e-reader or tablet which can hold a literal library’s worth of books for less than a pound and change in weight.
Having a storehouse of survival-centric information like that at your fingertips in the middle of a major calamity will be quite a comfort!
#7. Pepper Spray
It is the rare prepper that you will encounter who has not acquired or has no plans to acquire defensive implements as part of their preparations. There are just no two ways about it: threats from other humans will oftentimes be a significant component of a major SHTF event, especially as services and supplies vanish or dry up.
You must be prepared for dealing with them, and that means acquiring weapons and the skills to use them. Near the top of this list, guns, knives and other lethal weapons.
But there is one defensive weapon that too many preppers overlook or ignore, one that deserves a spot in their tactical toolbox: pepper spray.
No matter who you are and no matter what kind of challenge you are facing, it generally behooves you to have more options available for dealing with a threat than just a gun or a knife.
Consider that guns and knives are always lethal force, no matter how they are employed. You might very well be facing a threat that does not justify the use of lethal force. It might justify the use of defensive force, but not necessarily lethal defensive force.
One option you could employ in response to such a threat is good old-fashioned fists and feet, but coming to grips with an attacker in any capacity is rarely the best option if we can avoid it.
Pepper spray is one of the only ranged defensive tools that also happens to be non-lethal, or more properly if you want to be pedantic less-lethal.
Used against the average person, pepper spray has a very high chance of knocking the fight out of them thanks to a combination of excruciating, searing pain, and a nearly totally involuntary spasm of coughing, mucus production and other physiological effects.
Assuming your attacker has the mettle and the gumption to continue the attack they will be hard-pressed to do as well as they could normally. Pepper spray is so affordable, so effective and so available there is no reason not to have a good stash as part of your survival kit.
I highly recommend everybody carry a personal-sized canister that can go with them wherever they go, and if you are planning on sheltering in place, definitely consider obtaining one of the larger riot sized canisters so you can deal with crowds.
Any disaster or emergency in any form is so often the very stuff that injuries are made of. You also should not expect that the typical first responders in the form of EMTs and paramedics will be able to arrive in order to save you or someone in your group should they become injured.
You also shouldn’t count on being able to head down to the local clinic or emergency room to seek treatment on your own. As the saying goes, you have to become your own first responder during an emergency.
It stands to reason that the majority of preppers will have some medical supplies and even some medical training. Unfortunately, most of these medical kits, from the basic to the intricate, will not have any antibiotics in them.
This is a major shortcoming that you must correct. Infections and illnesses that we treat as trivial annoyances or inconveniences today have only been rendered so because of the life-saving power of antibiotics.
Less than a century ago several of the diseases that we take completely for granted today often had life-altering or life-threatening consequences.
Even if you don’t get sick, minor injuries might take on an entirely new and a grave consequence when you consider the likelihood that the cut on your hand received from a piece of broken glass or that simple puncture wound you got from a rusty nail on your thigh might now be the opportunity that bacteria needs to get into your body, and make its way into your bloodstream.
That can spell certain death in the aftermath of an SHTF event, if you lack antibiotics to counter it.
Unfortunately, obtaining antibiotics is not as simple as buying a big bottle of acetaminophen or ibuprofen off the grocery store shelf.
Potent and effective multi-threat antibiotics like ciprofloxacin are commonly encountered in serious medical kits for use in austere environments or battlefield treatment, but you will have to talk to your doctor and explain your plans to him in order for him to hopefully grant you a non-essential prescription to get the pills you need.
Also, keep in mind that antibiotics don’t last forever; you’ll need to rotate them along with any other perishable items according to their shelf life.
Don’t be dismayed by the expense, effort and aggravation necessary to obtain potent and effective antibiotics for your survival medicine chest; they are beyond worth it!
#9. Personal Documents, Credentials, Titles Pkg.
If you are prepared for the worst, good on you, but it might perhaps be putting a wagon ahead of the horse if you assume that whatever disaster scenario you are facing completely obliterates every cog and every gear that makes modern life “go”.
Sure, it is easy and perhaps a bit fanciful to assume that whatever society-toppling event occurs will see the social order reset, and every survivor operating under the law of the jungle where you only have what you have and keep it if you can protect it.
It might yet come to that, but then again it probably won’t, and that means it would behoove you to have all of the credentials, documents, titles, diplomas, certificates, deeds and statements that are attendant to your life as it was.
Administration is what makes modern society run; there is no other way to say it. That means if you are going to prove that you are who you say you are and you own the things that you say you own you’ll need the right paperwork with the right signatures and the right stamps. You should be thinking about things like mortgages, deeds, bank accounts, passports, driver’s licenses and so forth.
It stands to reason that originals and electronic copies of these that have been databased at the relevant institutions could, in fact, be damaged or wiped out, which means it is your responsibility to have backups on hand and usable.
For this purpose, you should create your own backup file of all relevant documentation for yourself and your entire family. You can create analog copies or digital, both have advantages.
If you decide to create paper copies, make sure you weatherproof them, and store them in a secret and secure way among your bug-out supplies so that they will go with you when you need to evacuate.
If you create digital copies, place them on a flash drive with secure encryption so that you do not literally hand the bad guys your entire identity on a silver platter should they steal it.
#10. Liquid Fuels and Stabilizers
I don’t doubt that most preppers have a plan to store a little bit of extra gasoline or diesel to use when things go bad, but I know for a fact that the majority severely underestimate just how much fuel they will need in order to make it out the other side, and also what is required to safely store that fuel properly so it is usable when they need it.
From gasoline powered tools and automobiles to generators, fuel is going to be awfully important and in high demand during any grid-down situation.
Even if fuel is still in production, disruption of transportation, dispensing facilities and other required secondary infrastructure is going to see local supplies dry up rapidly in your area.
It is best to assume that the only gas you have is what you have on hand, so you had better make sure it is usable.
Here is where most people go wrong when it comes to storing gasoline: modern gasoline only has a usable lifespan of about 6 months, and that is if it is pure gasoline!
Most gas you get from any pump has ethanol in it, and thanks to the meddling government-mandated inclusion of this crap gas containing it has a lifespan that is even shorter, around 3 months.
This is hell for rotation, and if you want to increase the usable lifespan of your gas in a meaningful way, you’ll need to add a blend-specific stabilizer additive.
Bottom line: you will need far more liquid fuel than you think, and in a major scenario it will be intensely coveted.
If you need to ration your gas stores, there is a significant chance the duration of the event could exceed your fuel’s shelf life, so it is a good idea to keep fuel stabilizer and long-life additives on hand so you don’t lose your now precious resource.
Chances are you have already been buying or otherwise obtaining plenty of gear as part of your survival plans, but even if you are very diligent, even if you have made a list and checked it twice there is still a good chance that you have overlooked at least one or two essential additions.
Take the time to review the list above and make sure all of your most critical vulnerabilities are covered.