What provisions to make in anticipation of a crisis?
It is possible to find endless lists of tips or products to stockpile on the Internet to have enough to last you through a crisis, but if you take the time to think about your approach, you will find that they are not always wise, that they don’t fit your personal needs and/or that you don’t have a 200m² shed to store all the provisions recommended for you.
One of these extravagant lists I found was on an American site made me laugh. It recommended 100 things, including to “bring books” and storing popcorn. Because it’s well known, when everything goes to hell, you have time to eat popcorn while reading The Count of Monte Cristo.
Let’s be careful to not foolishly apply the instructions given in such lists without considering their context and relevance to our personal situations.
No one has a magic formula for survival, and no one can think of everything and prepare for every eventuality.
The first question that many people who want to prepare themselves ask is “what should I buy? ».
The answer is simple: there is no standard answer to this question. Making provisions in a crisis means stocking up the products we consume and use daily, and this is different for everyone.
Of course, storing goods in advance isn’t only useful in a crisis: when you haven’t had time to go to the supermarket for X or Y reason, you’re happy to find products already in your cupboard.
The idea here is not to store tons of useless products, but on the contrary to build up a useful reserve of everyday products useful to help on a daily basis and in the event of a serious problem.
So I urge you not to fall into the marketing trap of survivalism.
The needs of each individual change according to a wide range of factors, to name but a few: gender,
- family status,
- where they live,
- eating habits,
- physical fitness and endurance,
- general health,
- psychological state,
- financial means,
- evacuation capacity, etc.
It is, therefore, better to proceed in stages and ask ourselves the right questions rather than buying at a high price 6 months’ worth of food supplies that don’t suit us, a war arsenal that we will never use and 200 pounds of useless camping equipment.
Likewise, including family members in this reflection is important to gather more points of view and to review all the materials needed for each one.
Stockpiling products in a crisis should not be a selfish but a collective effort.
An excellent way to detect which systems you and your loved ones are most dependent on is to behave as if there is no supermarket or energy in your home and list what you can no longer do.
Once you draw up this list, you can look for alternative ways of meeting the needs concerned in the event of a crisis or emergency and make your provisions coherently.
The satisfaction of our main physiological needs is mainly provided by the large food distribution chains. There we buy our food, water, toilet paper, and other everyday items related to hygiene and the maintenance of our homes and vehicles.
Which products disappear first during crises?
Here is a non-exhaustive list of products, most of which are indispensable and which we commonly buy in supermarkets:
- Foods with a long shelf life (pasta, rice, canned food, etc.)
- Vegetable oil & vinegar
- Water & milk
- Salt, sugar, honey, spices
- Coffee & tea, filters
- Garbage bags
- Lighters & matches
- Bleach and disinfectants
- Toilet paper & diapers
- Sanitary napkins & tampons
- Soap & detergent, toothpaste, daily hygiene products
- Parapharmaceutical products (bandages, disinfectants, creams, etc.)
- Batteries & Chargers
- Candles & lanterns, flashlights
- Pest Control Products
- Fuel & gas bottles
- Miscellaneous tools
This list is also the list of products that will disappear most quickly in the event of a crisis and a breakdown in the supply chain or a panic buying rush.
In concrete terms, this means that they will become scarce, expensive and difficult to get and therefore make up the bulk of the items stored in anticipation of a crisis.
Supermarkets use just-in-time procurement to reduce storage costs, avoid product shelf life, and increase margins by adjusting supply to demand.
A conventional supermarket contains enough food and necessities to supply its catchment area for a maximum of 72 hours (3 days).
In the event of a break in the supply chain, the shelves may be empty after 36 hours (1.5 days) in the best-case scenario.
Many ignore this risk and think they can get what they need at the last minute, without relying on the hordes of panicked people and rioters who will rush into stores at the same time to get the same items.
Don’t wait until the last moment to stock up on supplies, especially food and water. Crises don’t warn before they happen.
Whether it’s a prolonged power outage, a total economic collapse or a pandemic, you need to have enough to sustain yourself so you are not deprived at the worst possible time.
Emergency preparedness: list of products you can stock in anticipation of a crisis
Good organization and daily hygiene are of paramount importance for our mental and physical health.
Stockpiling useful supplies is decisive for survival when medicines and health care structures become scarce or disappear.
A simple cut not properly treated can turn into an infection and then sepsis and death.
Improper storage of waste or excrement can contaminate water and lead to an epidemic which will cause other disasters.
Our modern environment seems to us reliable, civilized and protected from the problems of countries like Liberia or Haiti, but the reality is quite different.
Only a few weeks of chaos separate us from their fate. And if they are used to acting to survive, this is not the case for the population of a country like the US.
While each person can be in a specific situation, the physiological needs are the same for everyone and certain products are unavoidable, especially common medicines and hygiene products.
An interesting point to note in this list is the interdependence of the products among themselves: without lighters or matches, it is impossible to start the stove;
- without salt or batteries, it is impossible to make bleach;
- without a charger, it is impossible to recharge the batteries and operate the flashlights or the radio;
- without tools, it is impossible to repair or get the above items if necessary;
- without water, it is impossible to survive, etc.
Sanitary stock: storing medicines and hygiene and health products
Toilet paper is a product we pay no attention to and that we gladly waste daily. Yet it is an absolute luxury.
Surviving without it is possible, but who would want it?
Indispensable for hygiene and morale, recent conflicts and disasters have shown that it is quickly becoming unavailable or available in small quantities and at exorbitant prices.
Toilet paper can and must, like drinking water and rubbish bags, be stored in pharaonic proportions: whatever happens, it will not be lost.
260 rolls, or approximately 1 year’s consumption, is a minimum. Prefer models with classic tubes rather than those that dissolve in water, cardboard makes an excellent firelighter.
Here you will find packs of 36 rolls at low prices, allowing you to quickly build up a stock.
Garbage bags, like for toilet paper, are essential for hygiene. Not only do they provide clean storage for food waste, but they also help maintain good hygiene in situations where toilets are out of use or out of reach.
Garbage bags come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses and can have many uses (to block a broken window, to collect and carry water, to protect the head, feet or hands, to serve as a makeshift shelter, to protect documents or food, etc.).
Storing 2000 8 gallon (30 liters) garbage bags takes the space of a case of 6 bottles of wine and can save your life in the long run.
You can order cases of 1000 liners on Amazon.
Sanitary napkins and tampons are necessary for feminine hygiene. Storing them in large quantities is a good idea to ensure the health and well-being of the women in your family, so don’t overlook them.
A woman uses an average of 20 pads or tampons in a menstrual cycle, so 240 units represent an annual consumption.
You can extend their use: pads make excellent makeshift bandages for large wounds and tampons make excellent firelighters and are commonly used in armed conflict to treat gunshot wounds.
If you don’t know what to buy for your wife, girlfriend or daughter, this basic model of daily liners will be perfect.
The hand sanitizer gel prevents the transmission of infectious diseases and maximizes the chances of survival.
You can use it without soap and water, which allows you to disinfect your hands or parts of the body and to save water.
Allow a minimum of 1 gallon (4 liters).
Caution, do not use it to wash your entire body. Despite its qualities, its formulation is very aggressive for the skin and unsuitable for daily hygiene.
I ordered myself 2×0.5 gallon (2L) of this brand which offers the best value for money.
Toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwashes are necessary to maintain good oral hygiene over the long term and avoid infections.
Toothache is one of the most unbearable and rapidly worsening dental problems, so make sure you give yourself the means to maintain good dental health and visit your dentist at least once a year.
Nitrile or latex gloves protect the hands from contamination during dirty or potentially contaminated operations (medical care or treatment of organic waste).
They can be bought by the hundred at low prices, store several boxes.
Buying a complete first aid kit and storing common medications (Antacid, Antidiarrheal, Antihistamine cream, Antiseptic agent, etc.) are an absolute necessity to manage minor injuries and feverish or diarrheal conditions.
Store as much as you can afford. If you are suffering from an illness and must imperatively take treatment, you must ensure that you have a sufficient stock of medication to cover the period you deem necessary and survive.
Talk to your doctor – and no one else, ever – for sound advice.
You can buy a ready-made first aid kit, but I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with its contents and complete it.
Soap is essential for personal hygiene and store it in large quantities, preferably in bar form.
Natural or assimilated Marseille soap is neutral for skin, intimate parts and hair and is ideal for prolonged use.
Easy to rinse, it is also suitable for dental hygiene (it is a very good natural toothpaste) and for washing clothes, if necessary.
5kg of bar soap costs almost nothing and allows you to maintain complete hygiene for 1 year.
Prefer this format to liquid soaps that are difficult to store, leak, and finish faster.
I have 5kg of this brand in stock.
Baking soda is a natural and healthy product that allows you to make yourself many products that can quickly run out, such as washing powder, disinfectant mouthwashes, all kinds of deodorants and cleaning products (many practical DIY tutorials to learn how to make them are available on the internet).
It is also a very good dietary supplement, especially when physical effort is involved.
Versatile and very useful, baking soda is a very accessible product available commercially in the form of several kilogram packaging. Storing 10kg is recommended.
Thermal comfort: storing stuff to keep warm, to have hot food, emergency lighting, and electricity generation
Butane (indoor storage) or propane (outdoor storage) gas cylinders and camp stove gas cartridges are the only viable alternative for continuing to cook when electricity and town gas supplies are cut off.
Storing one or more gas backup heaters, a camp stove and enough gas cylinders and cartridges to heat and cook twice a day for 1 month is a good start.
If you don’t know how to handle them, ask a professional to explain how they work.
When the heating stops working and the temperature drops, sleeping bags rated for extreme cold and wool blankets are providential for warmth.
To get advice on how to choose your sleeping bag based on qualities and materials and for all weather read this article.
You can find woolen blankets at very acceptable prices in military surplus or on classified ad sites.
Prefer large sizes such as 66″ x 90″ in beach towel format – store 1 for each member of the family.
Lighters and matches are essential for cooking, heating, and DIY.
The domestication of fire will probably remain the most important event in the history of humanity, so don’t deprive yourself of it.
Don’t hesitate to buy them in bulk and store as many as possible, these products are indispensable for survival, are cheap, run out quickly, take up no space and have a high barter value.
Packs of 50 Bic lighters are available for less than $1 per lighter, I advise you to buy at least one pack.
Candles, lanterns, and flashlights are a must for lighting up when there is no electricity in the house.
Packs of hundreds of long-lasting candles are available for a few bucks and allow you to light up and keep food warm.
Solar-powered or dynamo lanterns cost a few dozen dollars and give you an interesting lighting solution.
Investing in a few good quality flashlights that run on AA or AAA batteries is essential to move around and work in dark places (cellars, attics, DIY in poorly lit areas, etc.).
Some are equipped with strobe lights useful for signaling your position to the emergency services or for blinding an assailant.
Chemical light sticks offer long-lasting lighting (usually 6-8 hours continuous), but they have the disadvantage of being quite expensive, disposable and perishable.
You cannot build batteries and battery chargers and they will power most of the electrical appliances essential in the event of a major crisis: radios, lamps, walkie-talkies, emergency chargers, etc.
Building up a stock of disposable and rechargeable batteries corresponding to our devices is essential.
It is important to choose systems that operate on the most widespread standards (AA & AAA), as batteries that are rare in normal times will become absolutely impossible to find in troubled times.
Solar generators (also called solar chargers) are very interesting products that allow to recharge 4 to 8 AA or AAA batteries or power-banks in a few hours with average sunshine.
Accessible for around a hundred dollars, they are a useful and sustainable investment.
Pay yourself the luxury of an autonomous battery tester (one that works by using the energy of the tested battery), it will facilitate the management of your stock.
Batteries are used daily in most electronic equipment and in processes such as manufacturing bleach, so you should not neglect them.
Very large capacity power banks are also available at affordable prices, don’t hesitate to add this equipment to your survival gear.
This model of 40500mAh, for example, is very practical to have enough to recharge your electronic equipment dozens of times.
Survival food storage: storing water and food
Water is essential for survival and must be permanently stored with a minimum quantity of 30 to 40 gallons (120 to 150L) of water for a couple.
The best quality/price ratio for daily water filtration is the Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter.
To learn more about water storage, read the article on water filtration and purification equipment.
Storing canned food (metal or jars) and freeze-dried food to last at least 1 month is essential and recommended by civil protection organizations around the world.
Surviving without food or drink is impossible, do not skimp on your emergency food supply.
Salt is an indispensable product and so commonplace that it is almost no longer given the attention it deserves, yet its food preservation qualities make it one of the first victims of shortages caused by crisis situations.
Among other things, it extends the shelf life of meat, fish, vegetables, and tubers.
It is also an indispensable element in the artisanal manufacture of bleach.
It costs nothing, does not expire and is very easy to store, buy as many as you can.
Besides their primary function, coffee or tea filters are very useful for filtering water. Store a hundred of them.
Disposable dishes are especially useful when water runs out.
Being able to get rid of your dishes rather than letting them pile up and attract pests is a handy solution when the situation arises.
Prefer cardboard products for their ability to serve as fuel, funnel or writing paper.
Cheap and compostable plates sold by packs of 125 should find their place in your home.
Alcohol is used for cooking, medical care, makes an excellent fuel and has a high barter value.
Store about 5 gallons (20 liters) of unbranded vodka. It will serve you eventually, for one reason or another.
Survival equipment: storing the tools and items essential for daily life
Various tools (can opener, screwdriver, pliers, bolt cutters, sledgehammer, hammer, screws, nails, wood, and metal saws, powerful cordless screwdriver, etc.) are used for small DIY jobs but can also be particularly useful for opening doors, locks or vehicles whose keys have been lost.
Equipping yourself with a pair of destructive tools (bolt cutters, mason’s chisel, sledgehammer, powerful cordless drill) can be very useful if needed, and you can eventually use them as defensive tools.
Don’t forget to buy a good pair of protective gloves, as an injury to your hands can quickly turn out to be catastrophic.
Strong, sharp knives are necessary for cooking, cutting, engraving, shaping, carving and eventually defending oneself.
While folding knives are attractive for their ease of transport and discretion, their design makes them fragile and they need to be complemented with fixed blades that are stronger and more versatile.
Very good fixed blades can be purchased for a few tens of bucks (no need to buy products at $100 to get quality), just make sure that their design is called full tang, i.e. that the blade and the handle are one and the same piece.
This construction allows the knives to withstand very high pressures and therefore to use them for a multitude of demanding tasks.
Having a good sharpener and learning how to use it and also how to do without it is also relevant.
If it’s strong and it cuts, it’s a good knife; look no further.
All-purpose tape (also called duct tape, duct tape or gorilla tape, etc.) is useful in a multitude of situations (various repairs, sealing leaks, repairing pipes, insulating and sealing doors and windows, making bags, straps, etc.).
It can be used for anything and everything, and store it in large quantities (as much as possible).
After having tried all the brands, I only use Duck tape and Gorilla tape, which are the only ones that offer an adhesive that can really do the job without coming off.
Collapsible water tanks and water containers are space-saving and inexpensive systems that can be easily and quickly deployed when needed.
Offering capacities from 1 to 20 gallons (5 to 80L), they are excellent allies for storing water or fuel at the last minute.
Rigid water tanks are also a must and more suitable for long-term storage. It is advisable to clean these containers and seal them hermetically before storing them so we can fill them in a flash when the time comes without fear of contaminating drinking water.
Containers of all kinds are always useful and should not be missing.
From the Ziplock bag to the 40L bucket or the traditional plastic basin, they can be used for transport, storage and even as an emergency toilet once equipped with a garbage bag.
Some manufacturers offer stackable models such as Russian dolls to save space.
If you have a vehicle, store a few gallons of emergency fuel.
A special fuel Jerry can with a capacity of 5 gallons allows a modern car to travel several hundred miles and can be of great service in the event of a fuel shortage or if you cannot get to the pump.
Be careful, you cannot store gasoline for over 3 to 6 months in a “Jerry” can and also check the regulation of your state or region before stocking fuel at home.
It is dangerous and forbidden to drive with fuel in your trunk, so organize a rotation of your stock and keep it in your car garage (never in your house or apartment!).
Always fill your barrel up to 2 inches (5cm) from the edge of the neck. The more oxygen there is in a tank, the more the fuel undergoes chemical changes and perishes.
The constant maintenance of your vehicle is also extremely important, there is no point in storing fuel if your car refuses to start when you need to evacuate.
Be careful when filling your jerry cans: never put them in your vehicle to fill them but always on the ground and prefer PVC models to metal models that require earthing to avoid explosions when filling.
Never smoke and leave your mobile phone and any object likely to create a spark or an electric field in your car during the operation.
Ask for help from station personnel if possible.
Financial resilience: gathering cash money for survival or escape
Storing cash is an absolute necessity. We have all become accustomed to paying for our purchases by credit card, and it has become rare for us to have more than $150 in cash each week.
In case of disaster, the collapse of the banking system or social unrest, the banks will be unable to give you your money back.
Everybody remembers the images of the endless queues (for nothing) in front of the banks during the Argentine and Greek crises, to name but a few.
Give yourself the means not to be caught short and to have funds available at all times.
Keeping $2,000 to $5,000 in small denominations and spread out in different hiding places in your home will allow you to set sail with enough to meet your needs if the situation requires it.
Storing gold and silver is also an alternative.
Storage of survival equipment
The entire survival kit presented above fits easily into a 50 gallon (190L) mobile chest (excluding cash which must be hidden, rigid water and fuel tanks, toilet paper, alcohol, blankets, baking soda, and large 40-pound gas cylinders).
It is imperative to store them in an orderly and adapted manner for easy access and to move them to your vehicle or evacuation mean in case of need.
If you have enough space home, setting up an industrial-type shelf in your cellar or car garage is a good alternative for storing your stocks (assuming that your doors are built not to give way to the first burglar who comes along, of course!).
Once these products are secured, you can do without support systems for a good period and you have already taken a giant step towards resilience.
Gathering all this equipment is a significant investment, so make sure that your survival stock is not visible or easily accessible.
It takes an average of $5000 to equip yourself with food, tools, and weapons.
You should consider this – and rightly so – as life insurance and spread the expense over several months or even several years in order to minimize its impact on your daily finances.
The more prepared you are for the unexpected, the more resilient you will be when the time comes.