We’ve all found how difficult building a survival stockpile can be. There are so many choices and decisions to make, that it’s easy to take a wrong steer somewhere along the way. Everyone has their own idea of what’s the right stuff to stockpile, and some of those lists seem to contradict each other.
One piece of dangerous advice that’s floating around the internet is to stockpile what your family likes to eat. I say that is dangerous, because most of our families don’t eat all that healthy. So, if we stockpile what they eat as survival food, we may have an awful lot of bulk, without a whole lot of nutrition. We might also find that we have a lot of frozen food, without any way of keeping it frozen.
Sometimes, making a good stockpile is more about what we don’t stockpile, rather than what we do. If we can eliminate enough “bad” stockpiling choices, then we are more likely to end up with enough good choices that will keep us going. That’s what we really need anyway, no matter how we come to that conclusion. So here are my top picks for things that you’re going to be better off avoiding in your stockpile. A few might seem a bit controversial, but allow me to explain.
This one seems like it should be a no-brainer, but it’s not. If you follow that advice to stockpile what your family likes to eat, you’re going to find that you’ve got a lot of junk food and very little real food. Since we’re talking about food for survival, it just makes sense to get the most bang, nutrition-wise, for your buck.
That’s not to say that you can’t have anything to eat that your family will enjoy. There are actually a lot of very healthy food choices out there, even snack food choices, which are tasty. Take granola bars for example. My kids were just as happy with a good granola bar, as they were with one of those el-cheapo pastries that was mostly sugar and flour. Yet, the granola bar was a whole lot more nutritious and since it digested slower, it kept them going for a while.
Now’s the time to start collecting recipes for making good stuff that your family will enjoy eating, which can be made either from your stockpile or what you can grow yourself. Try them out to see if your family likes them. Even make modifications to those recipes, if you need to. That way, you’ll be ready.
Yes, believe it or not, I’ve actually run across people with a freezer chest full of meat and veggies, as their “emergency food supply.” Considering how easy it is to lose power, that makes no sense whatsoever. They’re likely to lose their entire food stockpile within days, and not be able to do a thing about it.
Long-term food storage means long-term; not “at your convenience.” If it can’t survive 10 or 20 years, without you paying attention to it or doing anything to make sure it stays usable, then it just doesn’t count.
Medicines with Short Shelf Lives
I’m a firm believer in stockpiling medicines. When looting starts, one of the first things that gets hit is the local pharmacy. So, you can be sure that there won’t be any medicines available in the wake of a major disaster.
Here’s the rub though; how long are those medicines going to last? All medicines come with a “use by” date, which most people consider to be their expiration date. But in most cases, the medicines will still be usable long after that date. Most antibiotics in pill form, for example, will still be usable after the date marked on the bottle. But there is no real way of knowing which ones will last and which ones won’t.
About the only medications you can be sure of, are those with a short shelf-life. Insulin, for example, must be kept refrigerated. Once you go past the stated expiration date, you can be sure that the potency of that insulin is beginning to fade. While it still will work, you’ll have to increase the size of the dosage to keep it working.
There is no reliable guide for how long medicines will actually last. The only thing you can do is to run your own tests. That can be risky, especially in the case of drugs which are needed to sustain people with chronic conditions.
I know a lot of people who are stockpiling electronics, with the idea that an EMP is going to take out the electronics that they use every day. Just think about that for a moment. If an EMP takes out your electronics, then what are those people going to use the cell phones, radios and other devices they are stockpiling with? Who is going to be on the other end?
Granted, there are some electronics which will be useful in such a world. But stockpiling a “spare” of everything you use doesn’t really make sense. Rather, it makes sense to figure out what would be useful in a world where electronics no longer work and stockpile just those things.
Gold & Silver
Here’s a controversial one for you; gold and silver. Most people say that you should stockpile these precious metals for use in an economy where the dollar no longer works. But and this is a very big but, what makes them think that there will be any economy to use that gold and silver in, if the dollar is no longer working?
During World War II, wealthy people in the cities of occupied Europe were traveling to the country with suitcases filled with the family silver, in order to exchange those valuable with farmers for black-market food. It was a good deal for the famers, many of whom became wealthy trading cheese, butter, sausage and ham for silver and gold.
Perhaps the most extreme case of profiteering during World War II was in the siege of Leningrad. There a gold watch would buy you one slice of bread. I’m talking a real gold watch, not one that is just gold plated. Seems to me they would have been better off investing that money in a few pounds of unground wheat and a grain mill, than buying a fancy watch. That way, they could have made themselves many slices of bread.
About the only situations where gold and silver would be usable for trade would be in the wake of an economic collapse, such as the Great Depression or the Argentinean collapse of 1999 or in the wake of a TEOTWAWKI event like an EMP. But in the case of the EMP, it wouldn’t be useful until at least a year after the event, when the 10 percent of people who survived were trying to rebuild their lives.
If you’re thinking of stockpiling gold and silver, wait until after you’ve stockpiled everything else you need. That’s probably about how it would get used in the great scheme of things, after everything else; and you can’t even be sure if it will be used then.
Excessive Weapons & Ammunition
Here’s another controversial one for you… I’m as much of a gun nut as anyone out there; but I’ve discovered something important. I can’t shoot more than one at a time. Forget the two pistols of Hollywood; that’s only useful if you don’ t have to hit your target. The only time that second gun does you any good is if you run out of ammo for the first or it breaks.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m really not saying that you only need one gun; I have more than that. The question is, at what point does it become excessive? Once you’ve armed every member of your family and survival team, what are you going to do with the rest of those guns?
Here’s my concern. Let’s say you have a total of 50 guns, between pistols and long guns, in your gun safe. A major disaster hits and you arm everyone in your home before bugging out. That uses up 10 guns. What’s going to happen to the other 40? You might take a couple of them with you as spares or to give you capability that one of your primary guns doesn’t give you; but that’s it. You would be leaving behind a good collection of guns and ammo for someone else to steal.
And that’s exactly what would happen; someone would steal them. Whoever that person would be, I think it’s safe to say that they won’t be someone that you would willingly loan your guns too. So, those “excess” guns are going to help arm the criminal element, who may very well come after you. Doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.
I’m not about to tell you that you can’t have all the guns you want. Nor am I about to tell you how many guns you need to have, in order for your family to survive. All I’m going to do is ask you to think it through. Make sure you have what you need; including spares; then think about what’s going to happen to the rest. I’m sure you’ll make a sensible decision, even if it’s not the one I would make.
Now, this one may not seem like something you’d stockpile; but I’ve seen it done. I’ve actually run into a couple of different people who were stockpiling power tools for use in a post-disaster world. When I asked them about electrical power, they showed me their generator. Then, when I asked them about gasoline, they pointed to the gas tank, which I thought was probably filled with old gas.
They had obviously though things through; but it doesn’t look to me like they thought them through correctly. Rather, they desired to do something and then created the logic to back up what they wanted to do. Not what I would call an accurate assessment of the situation.
The thing is, any of us can apply this same sort of faulty logic to just about anything. While there is always room for new ideas in the prepping and survival community, we need to make sure that our ideas fit into a realistic scenario. Otherwise, all we’re going to do is spend time and effort investing in something that’s not going to do us the least bit of good.
You may also like: