20 Surprising Things You Should Be Storing for an Emergency

There was a time people thought preppers were extreme and possibly even paranoid. Then a new strain of coronavirus with unprecedented global impact hit, and everyone around the world witnessed a fraction of what was possible in crisis mode. The truth is, being prepared for the unknown is not extreme but imperative for survival.

Here are 20 things everyone should be storing:

  1. Storage
  2. Food supply
  3. Water supply and collection materials
  4. First aid kit and medications
  5. Batteries and solar chargers
  6. Lights and alternative light source
  7. Hygiene products
  8. Bleach
  9. Cookware
  10. Fuel
  11. Extra clothing
  12. Blankets and sleeping bags
  13. Radios and communication equipment
  14. Protection and hunting gear
  15. Garden Supplies
  16. Fire-starting materials
  17. Essential tools
  18. Tarps and miscellaneous
  19. Time passers
  20. Survival mentality

When a crisis hits, many people instinctively flock to the stores, leaving behind bare shelves and a shortage of supplies for everyone except those who have prepared for this kind of event. Follow the list below to prepare for the next crisis or national emergency.

1. Storage

Creating areas for supply storage is essential during the beginning of your prepping stage. Items such as food should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry location away from where you store chemicals or fuel. Keep the area easily accessible, clean, and organized on shelves.

Aside from designated storage areas and shelving, you will need storage totes for some items. You will also need an assortment of air-tight containers and sealable storage bags. These storage items will help keep everything dry and safe from mice or other pests.

2. Food Supply

Having a healthy supply of non-perishable nutrition is imperative for survival. Having a mixture of MREs, canned foods, and grains is ideal. Choose items with a long shelf life with plenty of nutrients to keep you going.

Canned meats and vegetables can be stored for up to a year, sometimes longer, in cooler temperatures. Canned herbs can be stored for one to three years. To prevent spoilage, keep a rotation of the oldest foods in front and store them in a cool, dark, and dry place that maintains temperatures between 50 to 70 °F (10 to 21.11°C).

Keep whole grains in your food stock in an air-tight container with less than 10% moisture to optimize storage life.

It would be best if you were also stocking MREs (meal ready-to-eat). These have a shelf life of up to 5 years if stored in temperatures below 75 °F (23.9 °C) and can last over ten years if stored in cold temperatures. As long as the packaging isn’t compromised or bloated, the nutrients in MREs are still good.

3. Water Supply and Collection Materials

You should have at least one gallon (4.5 liters) per person per day of water. Aim for at least three weeks’ supply or a few months if you have water barrels. Remember that you will also use water for cooking and personal hygiene.

Have a rain collection system to ensure you won’t run out of water. There are several tutorials and guides on setting up a system with items you can find at your local hardware store. Ensure you have a system that will provide enough water for you, your family, and gardening in case the crisis lasts for a long time.

Prepare to filter or purify your water to avoid potential risks of infection since rainwater is most likely contaminated with undesirable elements. Most people are familiar with water pitchers that include a filtration system, but there are also personal water bottles with small filters.

Keeping such items and a stock of filters in your supply storage will ensure your water will be safe to drink during times you cannot purify the water in another way.

4. First Aid Kit and Medications

Accidents happen, and you need to be prepared for them. The standard first aid kits available won’t cut it. You will need a more extensive stock of items for sanitizing, wrapping, healing, and tools such as scissors and tweezers.

If you have a medical condition, include the medications needed. Other medications to add are pain relievers, antibiotics, and antibacterial/antimicrobial creams.

Consider adding a respirator mask with extra filters in case of air contamination or getting trapped in a fire.

5. Batteries and Solar Chargers

When adding batteries to your stock, check if they can be stored for an extended period. Not all batteries have the ability to keep their charge in storage. Include different sizes in your stockpile.

Quality NiMH rechargeable batteries are a must-have. Some brands can retain 80% of their charge for several years, and the batteries can be recharged over 2000 times.

Portable solar panel chargers are also recommended, and they have been popular amongst those who frequently go camping or hiking. There are different qualities and charging capabilities, depending on the product. Find one that suits the needs of your electronic devices.

6. Lights and Alternative Light Source

It’s always been advised to keep flashlights, lanterns, and candles on hand in case of power outages and emergencies. To help save your batteries, use flashlights and lanterns with crank and solar charging capabilities.

Adding LED headlamps or headlights to your stockpile will make it easier to see when you have to use both hands.

prepping for emergencies

7. Hygiene Products

Along with toilet paper, you will need to store extra hygiene items. Keeping good hygiene is vital for your overall health. Please keep it simple with soap, razors, and oral hygiene products. Hand sanitizer is another beneficial item to keep for emergencies.

If you or a family member has sensitive skin or requires certain hygiene products, be sure to have extra packs in storage so that the items can still be accessible in case of an emergency that would prevent you from restocking for a while.

8. Bleach

To keep things sanitary and clean, keep a stock of bleach. If kept in a cool location, you can store it for up to a year. The bleach will start to degrade, so rotate your stock when you buy more and keep tabs on when you purchased it.

If you cannot boil water for sanitation, using bleach is another way to sanitize drinking water. Add about eight drops of bleach to one gallon (4.5 liters) of water, and the bleach will remove any contaminants.

9. Cookware

Cookware is necessary, but you don’t need a whole set of pots and pans when you’re in survival mode. A few pots and a cast-iron skillet for cooking will do, along with a spatula and spoon. Prepare durable cookware with convenient handles that you can safely use on an open fire, such as when using coal or wood, in case you run out of fuel.

In addition, each person will need a set of utensils, including at least a plate, a cup, a spoon, and a fork.

10. Fuel

To keep everyone warm and provide a way to cook food, have an emergency supply of fuel stored. Not everyone can utilize a wood stove for this purpose, so you’ll need to store propane or kerosene.

Keep them in recommended containers to help them last longer and keep them from evaporating. It is important to remember that fuel is a volatile substance, so you have to know how to store and handle them properly.

11. Extra Clothing

You should prepare extra clothing for each person, including shoes. Have appropriate clothing for warm and cold weather, including necessary outerwear like a cold-weather coat (waterproof), hat, and gloves. Pack a raincoat and boots for those rainy days.

Choose garments that are easy to remove, like loose shirts and pants and zipper jackets. Select clothes with fabrics that will allow your body to regulate its temperature.

12. Blankets and Sleeping Bags

Always keep extra blankets for warmth. Keep a space blanket for thermal control in climates where hypothermia is possible. Space blankets are designed to reflect up to 90% of your body heat for warmth.

When choosing a sleeping bag, consider the conditions you are in. A lightweight or regular sleeping bag won’t cut it if you are in a climate where freezing temperatures are possible. Prevent possible hypothermia and choose a sleeping bag that has thermal control.

13. Radios and Communication Equipment

During the recent pandemic, we at least had the internet and cell phones to keep in touch with our loved ones and friends. However, that may not always be possible.

You should consider purchasing an emergency hand-crank radio. Some of the newer versions also have ports to charge your smaller electronics, like the charging base for your rechargeable batteries.

Ham radios and walkie-talkies are great investments to have a way to communicate with your group or others around the world. Ham radios are excellent for communicating over long distances. Walkie-talkies are ideal for communicating over shorter distances, usually within about 5 miles (8 km), depending on the terrain.

14. Protection and Hunting Gear

Having a way to protect yourself and your family and hunt for food is crucial for survival. Guns and ammo aren’t the only weapons you need. Having experience hunting with a bow is beneficial and will save on gun ammo.

Knives are must-have items because you frequently need them for multiple purposes besides protection or hunting. Keep a knife sharpener with your set to keep your blades sharp. A dull blade is more dangerous because more pressure is used to cut, which can cause the knife to slip with force.

15. Gardening Supplies

You’ll need a continuous food source to prevent running out of food, so plan to store various vegetable and herb seeds. Seeds can last 2 to 5 years or longer when stored properly and germinate with no problem.

Growing herbs is as important as growing vegetables. Herbs are used for multiple purposes, including medicinal (burns, cuts, upset stomach, headaches, etc.), maintaining overall health, and pest repellants.

Keep small garden tools for planting the seeds. If you are hunkered down in a location without the ability to plant an outside garden, you can do container gardening. Keep a stack of pots and bags of soil.

16. Fire-Starting Materials

Matches and a ferro rod are excellent tools to start a fire. If you have regular matches, they should be stored in a waterproof container. There are also stormproof matches that will work no matter the weather conditions. Also, include some rechargeable electric lighters in your fire-starting stock.

17. Essential Tools

A multi-tool is as essential as a first aid kit. This is a small tool kit with several tools in a compact form so that it can be carried in your back pocket. There are about 21 tools, including the commonly used can opener, pliers, and scissors.

Tools like a hand saw, ax, and shovel will help you complete tasks outdoors. It is easier to gather the right wood for your fire when you have a hand saw and ax available.

18. Tarps and Miscellaneous

Aside from the obvious items that come to mind when preparing for a crisis, others are useful for survival. Paracord, zip ties, and duct tape are excellent when sealing and securing something.

Tarps can be used for different purposes. They’re usually used to protect something from the weather, such as firewood, but you can also use them for water collection and shelter. Vinyl or PVC tarps are used for shelter and will withstand extreme temperatures.

19. Time Passers

In a tote, store entertainment items that will interest everyone in the family. Books, a deck of cards, and board games are excellent choices. However, reading and playing games are not the only way to pass the time and keep your gears going.

Keeping in shape mentally and physically is essential to overall health. Include resistance bands for strengthening. Practicing meditation will keep your head clear and in gear when unexpected situations arise.

20. Survival Mentality

Get into the mentality of prep and practice for survival mode. Basic knowledge of surviving and what to do when the unexpected happens is good, but not enough. You and your family will need to have a sound plan in place for when a crisis hits.

Gather necessities to prepare your bug-out bags. Each person should have a bug-out bag for situations like emergency evacuations. The bag should include key essentials that will aid your survival for up to 72 hours.

Once you have your plan and bug-out bag in place, then comes practice. You and your family should have drills so you will be ready with essential supplies and know what to do when the time comes.


Being prepared for emergencies and crises is essential for survival. In times of crisis, people often flock to stores and deplete the supply of necessary items, leaving those who have not prepared without the resources they need.

To be prepared, it is important to have designated storage areas and to stock up on a variety of supplies, including non-perishable food, water and water collection materials, a first aid kit and medications, batteries and solar chargers, hygiene products, cookware, fuel, extra clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags, radios, and communication equipment, protection and hunting gear, fire-starting materials, essential tools, and miscellaneous items. It is also important to have a rain collection system to ensure a constant water supply and the means to filter or purify the water to avoid infection. In addition to physical supplies, it is also essential to have a survival mentality and activities to pass the time.

By following this list, individuals and families can be prepared for the next crisis or national emergency.

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