I forget which zombie movie it is, maybe World War Z? One of the characters says something to the effect that if you stay put in one place, you die. That may be true of real zombies, but that will not be true of the zombies who surround us and who aren’t preparing for the collapse. For the most part, people are decent. And though they may be confused by the fog that their anti-depressants and reality TV put them in, when they finally figure out that one day late was too late, they are going to try to run to where they think they can be saved. That may be a rumor of where a FEMA truck is supposed to show up with food and water. That may be a distant relative that must be able to help them. Ultimately what it means is that the streets will be full of people seeking to get out, or just to find resources, and the street is where you don’t want to be for a long time. But survival is boring, and the food is bland. These are some tips that I thought of that make a lot of sense if you are compiling a bare bones prepper/survival list. They aren’t too expensive and they will add a certain “quality” to life that is 100% better than just surviving.
Books by the Box
Even if you aren’t a big fan of Tom Clancy or romance novels, they sure will kill a lot of time and keep your brain from farting out when you are on guard duty. For those of us who have an actual physical used book store in town, go down to the store and ask the owner about buying a bunch of dead stock for a set price. She may tell you that you can have a whole bunch of books for not a lot of money, because it helps her to get them out of the way. This is also great for flea market dealers. They don’t make a killing off of their books, so offering $50 for a whole bunch of them will generally get you a big smile and a car full of books. Just bring boxes. Yard sales are even better.
Craigslist would be the obvious other local place to find books. Estate sales and moving sales will often yield huge collections of books that you can have almost or entirely for free. The guy who runs my mini-storage facility saw that I had thousands of books in storage (a whole other story) and offered me his mother’s entire book collection for free, because “she puts notes in the margins” believe it or not.
Ebay is also a resource, and one I have used to buy collections of just one author who I would love to read “some day.” Recently I snuck a few Ann Rice books out one lot I bought on Ebay from the Interview with the Vampire series that was slated for survival. Hey, if the collapse never shows up I’ll be tickled happy, but I don’t want to miss reading those books if I happen to die in the “great event” that may be coming.
Encyclopedia sets are also something I would suggest. The entire Encyclopedia Brittanica can be bought on Ebay for little more than the cost of shipping them to you. It has not been totally rewritten since the 80s, and they stopped printing it years ago after only printing the update books for a decade or so. Print is dead, but it won’t be after a collapse. World Book Encyclopedia and Colliers are another couple you might search for. They are all good, and all different.
Handyman books are also valuable. There are actually handyman encyclopedias. Also check out gardening books and cookbooks. They can all help your survival experience succeed.
Blenders and Mixers!
If you read the article we did on survival food, nonfat dried milk is one of the best things you can buy that adds up to lots of calories and lots of food value for the money and for the space. If you add to that freeze dried fruits, a life of smoothies could be part of your future.
There are two types of survival blenders. One is a sturdy hand crank and it sells for roughly $100 all over the web. We are also hoping to review an almost $500 larger hand crank system that is more of a food processor from Cottage Craftworks. It appears to be able to mix bread even, and they have a Kitchenaid mixer conversion kit as well as $40 bread machine. Cool off grid stuff!
Tailgate blenders come in a wide variety of cost options. If you just search Google for 12 volt blender you’ll find a number of them under the Waring name ranging from $99 to $149. There is also a battery powered Margaritaville mixer, and the $359 Tailgator gas powered blender (they actually exhibit at SHOT Show).
Waffle & Pie Irons
You can’t ever discount the emotional benefit of hot food, and the easiest way to heat food is with an open fire. We are going to review some specific cooking options, but at the end of the day, you can certainly cook with an open flame, and you should plan to. As per our advice in the food article, one of things you can store is flour, and besides bread, a killer meal from flour is waffles. Search Ebay on cast iron waffle and you’ll see that historically, the cast iron waffle iron has been a fundamental kitchen implement in the homestead. Today you can buy these old irons, but is also a very good copy being sold under the name Texsport for $40-$50. It has a swivel base that is very important for even cooking. Keep your fire low and be patient. Survival food doesn’t have to suck, and waffles with sugar (another storage item we suggest), don’t suck.
The other thing you may already have to take camping. They are called Pie Irons, and they are made primarily by a company called Rose. They can be found on Amazon and Ebay, as well as the camping and Amish stores around the web. Pie irons are cheap, and with a little bit of oil and bread, you can make interesting creations from TVP and reconstituted veggies that will not pale to the food you eat today. The most important thing is that they only need an open flame. If your solar oven can’t get enough sun and your propane ran out two weeks ago, pie irons give you the tool you need to make yourself a hearty hot meal.
12 Volt Lights, Fans, etc.
We are going to get back into solar very soon in this series, with a much more elaborate system. If you plan to run solar (or wind), your power is going to be saved in increments of 12 volts, with batteries. You can, as we already explained in our introductory solar article, invert that 12 volts DC into 120 volts AC, and run regular lights and appliances. The problem is, an inverter is essentially just a power transformer with some control circuitry, and transformers eventually fail. Even transformers that sell for 100s of dollars and that are used correctly eventually fail, and if you are using an inverter, it will eventually fail. Have a backup inverter of course, but also plan to store 12 volt lightbulbs, fixtures to hold them, and other 12 volt appliances, like fans if you live in a hot location. You can only store how much power you can hold in your batteries, so you might as well use some day to day for convenience. I don’t, however, suggest that you use your inverter for convenience needs. How would you feel if you blew your converter while running a 120 volt electric box fan? How stupid will you feel? Since Ham radios primarily rely on 12 volt power supplies, there are very few actual 120 volt things that you will absolutely need that you can’t find on 12 volts. I was in Home Depot the other day and they even had 12 volt refrigerator bags. That would be great to use if you have some spare power. You can kill game and save some for tomorrow without having to worry about it spoiling. Find everything you can in 12 volts and buy it now, before it is too late.
Toilet Paper, Feminine Hygiene, Soap, Dandruff Shampoo, Hair Scissors and Razors
Hygiene is a huge deal in a survival environment. If you are currently on a septic system and not city sewer, you should be able to use your toilet for the foreseeable future. Just manually pour non-drinkable water into the rear tank and flush it as usual. If you are on city sewer you should get a back up camping toilet of some kind. There are lids for 5/6 gallon buckets that are a toilet seat and they work great. But in either case, you really need a good supply of toilet paper. I haven’t found the bulk Costco paper to be that much more of a value by the foot, and if you are on septic, beware that toilet paper made from recycled paper can become an issue for your drain field. If you can afford it, buy the bulk packs of virgin fiber toilet paper. Get enough for a long time, and tell everyone in a survival atmosphere to use it sparingly.
If you have a menstruating or soon to me be menstruating female among your group, you have to buy a good supply of pads or tampons. Both options take up a lot of space for how long they cover you for, but they are absolutely required if you hope to keep your girl healthy and happy. Don’t leave this out.
You should also have a good supply of soap and shampoo. If you currently use dandruff shampoo, make sure to have a good supply of it on hand, and again, use it sparingly. The human body doesn’t like to be dirty and as I’ve seen in some lectures, we kind of spoil. Stay clean, and if you have the money to put away the deodorant you use in bulk, get some of that too.
A pair of hair scissors and a whole bunch of disposable razors should also be in your supplies. It will be hard to keep spirits up in a survival situation, and a regular haircut and shave are simple things that can keep you feeling like yourself. I even put away a rechargeable hair clipper that hopefully I could use with my solar.
Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Floss
I actually bought some tooth extraction pliers on Ebay for my medical kit because teeth are one of those things that can really mess you up without a dentist around. There is a book, “Where There Is No Dentist.” You don’t want to go there if you don’t have to, so take care of your teeth and the teeth of others. Even if you don’t currently floss every day, buy a ton of dental floss and do so in survival. That is even more important than brushing for problem free teeth.
If you live in a area of the country that is hit hard by mosquitoes, be prepared to protect yourself from them in survival. Bug repellant is expensive, but you should have some that has Deet in it, and get the squeeze bottle not the aerosol. It goes further per ounce. Also consider investing in mosquito head nets and even a mosquito suit. They work great, and face it, guard duty happens in survival. You are going to have to contend with mosquitoes, so you might has well be prepared. Like any other bio-weapon that the banker slave shadow government may see fit to unleash on us, malaria is a reality for much of the southern US. Just because you don’t see it now doesn’t mean you won’t see it after “the perfect storm” puts America in 3rd world country territory.
Laundry Detergent & Larger Sized Kid Clothes
There is a cheap cheap laundry detergent at Walmart with spanish writing on the bag. It works great, and you can buy a ton of it for $30. Clean clothes should be a priority for you in survival, and you don’t need drinkable water to wash them.
Also, if you have kids that are due for a growth spurt, it wouldn’t hurt to take a duffle bag down to your local thrift store or flea market and fill it up with the next size up, especially in shoes. Remember the whole point of this is to make it so you don’t have to leave the house for anything. Kids outgrow clothes within the window that you may be holed up, and having those larger clothes on hand won’t hurt. That also goes for small clothes for you if you are overweight. Surviving on beans and rice, with others, you won’t be eating more than you need anymore and you will get smaller. A few outfits that fit you won’t hurt a bit, and used clothes are pitifully cheap.
Over the Counter Medications
There is no describing how nice it is to have some children’s ibuprofen on hand when a kid gets a fever. You feel like you scored the winning touchdown at the Superbowl when the kid is feeling much better ten minutes later. In survival, why not have some basics for your medical kit that everyone occasionally needs. Immodium, Ex-Lax, Tylenol, Pepcid, etc. They all come in store brands that are much cheaper these days and that work just as well.
We covered this a bit in a prior article, but if you plan to garden, or you have the ability to hunt wild animals or slaughter farm animals for food, a pressure canner is an absolute must. I suggest the All American Canner because it has a metal to metal fit and no plastic gasket to break. But in the prior article I suggested that you get a can sealer and use steel cans. If you are planning to stay in one place, glass Mason jars are fine, but you have to make sure you have plenty of lids, because unlike the jars, the lids can only be used once for a proper seal. A pressure canner is required for everything except pickles and tomatoes because it brings the temperature above 212 degrees. Botulism can live at 212, but not much higher, and that is the primary cause of sickness from canned food. Follow time and pressure directions carefully with canning. Your life could depend on it.
What’s On Your List?
Please add suggestions in the comments below. There are plenty of things that some people are going to forget, like an extra few packs of wooden matches and disposable lighters. But please, make sure you have at least looked at the topics we have already covered. Prozac infused comments like “you don’t need toothpaste you need food” don’t do anyone any good, and believe it or not, we’ll delete at least a few of those this week. If you are among the awake that are taking all of this deadly serious, you are in the absolute minority, and we are surrounded by people who will wish they had listened when they had the chance. If you have something helpful to share with us please do. Once you get to the point where you accept that it might be your own responsibility to just live, the next step is to live well.