As you’ve built your stockpile, I’m sure you’ve seen countless articles which made recommendations to you. We all see those articles and we all read them, just to be sure that we haven’t missed something important. But no matter how good our stockpile gets, there’s always room for improvement. Specifically, there’s room for the items we forgot.
I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly reviewing my stockpile, trying to find the things I’ve missed. The recent pandemic is an ideal example. When the Ebola outbreak happened in 2014, I made sure to buy PPE and disinfectants, in case it managed to come across the ocean.
While we did have a few cases here in the US, we never really had an outbreak. So I kept those supplies and thought I was good, until COVID-19 came along and I found that I didn’t have enough PPE or disinfectants and the stores ran out.
I’ll be ready for the next pandemic though, or the next phase of this one, whichever comes first. Now that those items are back in stock, I’ve made sure that I’m stocked up on them. But what else am I missing? That is the question.
If I was to look for the things most likely to be missing from someone’s stockpile, these are the places I’d look:
A First Investment Worth Making
Ok, maybe this isn’t something that you’ve ever thought of having in your stockpile. But it’s there, nevertheless. Or, should I say that all that you have is in your stockpile. The question then becomes, is that enough?
Survival is an all-encompassing task, when the time comes. But the more experience you have, the easier it becomes. Really, that’s just like anything else in life. The more you do it, the more experience you gain and the more experience you gain, the easier it is to do and the better results you get.
The problem is that our day-to-day lives don’t normally lead us to do the same tasks necessary for survival. So we have to be deliberate about them, if we want to gain experience. That means making time in your schedule and using that time to practice your survival skills. It’s an investment worth making.
A Second Important Thing To Have
Yeah, this is another one of those that most people don’t think of having in their stockpile; but just like experience, it’s essential. Actually, confidence comes with experience. That’s why elite military units have a lot of confidence. They know how well they’re trained and how well they can perform their work. That makes them confident and that confidence helps them stay alive.
You and I need that same level of confidence. Knowing that we will survive will help us through the hard times, so that we can survive. If we’re unsure of ourselves, it’s much too easy to give up. But that confidence will motivate us to power through and do everything we need to do.
One More Non-Physical Item
There’s no such thing as too many survival skills. But that’s really not why I put this here. Yes, we need to have our survival skills down pat; but that’s not really what I’m talking about here. I’m more referring to the kinds of skills which make us self-sufficient, rather than basic survival skills. I assume you’ve already got those down pat.
But what are you going to do, when you need things and can’t just go out to buy them? Those are the kind of skills I’m talking about. I guess you’d call them old-time trade skills and/or homesteading skills. I’ve been working on learning as many of those as I can, over the last few years. When push comes to shove and I can’t buy a pair of shoes or even the leather to make them, I want to be able to take care of that myself.
There was some teaching going around the prepping and survival community a few years ago, saying to stockpile whatever foods you like. Considering that most of us don’t eat a very healthy diet, that’s dangerous. I’ve also seen a number of food lists, showing people how to build a survival pantry for $200 or something like that. Of course, they do that by stockpiling mostly carbohydrates, ignoring the other nutrients we need.
You can get by for about 30 days on a survival diet that’s high in carbs, fats and protein, but that’s about it. If you go any farther than that, you’ll run the risk of denying your body essential nutrients that it needs to have, in order to maintain its health. So if you’ve got one of those $200 stockpiles, I highly recommend adding a bunch of canned goods to it, especially vegetables and meats. Make sure that everything you have is packaged to last a good 20 years, so that it will be ready when you need it.
Speaking of nutrition, here’s something I rarely see anyone put in their survival stockpile: vitamins. Granted, good vitamins are expensive, so I can see why it’s something that most people put off. But if you’re going to be in a long-term survival situation, those vitamins just might be what you need to keep yourself alive and healthy.
Even a low-cost vitamin is better than nothing. But if you can afford the good ones, then I’d recommend spending the extra money. Start slowly, just like you did with everything else in your stockpile, and build your stock of vitamins up slowly.
You Can Never Have Too Much Of This
If there’s any one thing I see missing in most people’s stockpile, more than anything else, it’s salt. I’m not talking about having a couple of those 26 oz. round containers of salt, I’m talking about hundreds of pounds of it. If you’re ever in a long-term survival situation, you’re going to need lots of it.
Salt is used in almost every form of food preservation, from canning, to smoking, to dehydrating. So if you’re planning on growing or hunting your own food in a post-disaster world, you’re going to need a lot of salt. How much salt do you need to smoke an entire steer? How much to make salt fish? Unless you have a salt mine or salt lick available to you, you’re probably going to be in trouble.
I’m fortunate, in that I live on the coast. So I can always extract salt from the ocean by allowing salt water to evaporate. But that’s a lengthy process. So, while I’m planning on using it, I’ve still got a couple of hundred pounds of salt stashed away in five gallon buckets.
If you’ve got something that you’re depending on using in a post-disaster world, you’d better be ready to repair it. I don’t care if we’re talking about your favorite gun or the pressure pump for your Coleman lantern. If it can break, then you have to assume that it will sometime.
I make it a habit to buy repair parts for a wide variety of things, shortly after buying them. As an engineer, I’m accustomed to looking at things and seeing what parts are likely to cause problems. So I buy power switches, bearings, belts, springs, pins and filters all the time, filling up a cabinet in my workshop with those parts. If I have to use something in there to make a repair, I make sure I replace it; usually with two, just to be sure.
Lumber & Hardware
Speaking of fixing things, are you ready to repair your home? Many natural disaster scenarios can cause serious damage to your home and you may not be able to get it repaired right away. I’ve seen tarps on roofs for six to nine months after a hail storm, just because it took that long for the local roofing companies to get around to all the houses they had to repair.
Not only are you going to have to make repairs, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have to make other useful things; things that you don’t need now, but you’ll find you need in a post-disaster world.
Take cooking, for example. We all cook in our kitchens now, but we might find ourselves cooking outside, over a fire. Are you ready for that? Do you have a table out by your grille, which you can use when you’re cooking? Do you have a lamp stand, so that you can get the best out of whatever lantern you’re going to be using?
Not only do you need the lumber and hardware to do these things, you need to make sure you have manual tools to work with. We’re all so accustomed to using power tools, that we’re going to be in trouble when we have to drill a hole without our cordless drill. Make sure you’ve got at least the basics and that you know how to use them.
When You Need To Keep Quiet
I’m a gun buff, but I recognize the limits of handguns and rifles. There are times when they aren’t the ideal thing to use, like when you need stealth. Even with a really good suppressor on the gun, it’s going to be heard from a long way.
The bow has survived for millennia because it is such a good weapon. It is effective for both hunting and fighting. While it can’t really hold a candle up to a good rifle for distance and firepower, it’s probably the next best thing. Not only that, but you can reuse arrows and make your own, if you have to.
Yes, it takes time to learn to use a bow properly and accurately. But it’s time well spent. Besides, shooting a bow is just about as much fun as shooting a gun, and you can do it in your backyard. Try that with your guns and you’ll probably be getting a visit from the boys in blue.
One More Important Thing
Fuel is one of those things I see people short-changing themselves on all the time. I don’t care if we’re talking about gasoline for their chainsaw and other tools or firewood to heat their homes. For that matter, they might have oil lamps, but only a couple of bottles of oil.
If you’re planning on heating your home with wood, then you’d better plan on four to six cords of wood to get you through the winter. That’s good hardwood too, not pine. If you want to try to use pine (not something I recommend), you’d better count on needing twice that.
Gasoline is hard to store, because the most volatile hydrocarbons evaporate first, reducing the effectiveness of the fuel. It’s normally only good for about six months or 12 months if you add a fuel extender to it. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t store gasoline. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do so effectively.
I keep a 55 gallon drum of gasoline in my garden shed, laid on its side on a steel rack I built for it. That allows me to fill it easily through the larger bung hole and siphon off gas through a brass valve through the small bung hole (which is located at the bottom). I keep my gasoline fresh by siphoning off a take full every month and burning it in my car. I then replace that fuel with fresh gas, which means that I replace everything in the drum about every four months.
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