Survival Items

45 Survival Items You Need To Stock NOW

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I think it’s time we talk about survival items that you can start, or continue to stock up on now for any emergency that may come your way. This list is by no means an entire list of survival items, but at least it’s something that can be used as a benchmark or guideline to help us as we look over our prep stash and add, rotate, or discard any items that may have expired beyond usability.

Water will always be my number one survival item, but after that, these are not necessarily in order of importance. I’ve been writing several of these over the past few weeks, mainly to help those just getting started prepping, and for those who have prepped for many years, to be ready for any scenario.

Over this weekend there have been news reports from all over the country about weather issues that have truly put individuals and whole families in survival mode for numerous reasons. Heavy snow storms and freezing cold in Buffalo, NY. Torrential rains in San Francisco and Oakland, CA have totaled in excess of 5 inches, almost unheard-of amounts that have washed out levees, main highways, and small dams.

These events have left people stranded, both at home and on the road. Even preppers who have followed emergency preparedness guidelines and plans have been caught off guard and struggling to survive. The rains now and the pending melting snows later have prompted officials to warn residents to prepare for floods. Talk about a “perfect storm” of events! Hopefully, many stranded families have an emergency food storage plan in place that will get them through.

45 Survival Items You Need To Stock NOW

45 Survival Items You Need to Consider NOW.

1. Water

This is a given. I recommend four gallons of water per day per person. The American Red Cross recommends one gallon of water per day per person. I will leave the amount up to you, but we need to consider proper hydration, water for cooking, enough for minimal personal hygiene, and then some to at least periodically clean at least our underwear. I get thirsty just thinking of only one gallon per day, but I always think beyond the bare necessity.

You can check my archive for posts covering the proper preparation, treatment, and care for stored water. You have a number of options, depending on your storage space, the size of your family, and the funds available. I’ve also discussed water filtering systems and water treatment products.

2. Food

I’ll share my Food Storage Sheet to help you figure out how much food you need to store. I don’t count calories, I choose the food I eat every day and the staples to help me cook from scratch. Where Do I Start?   You can fill in the blanks for seven days worth of meals. Easy peasy.

Make sure you use food storage containers that are BPA quality, like food grade buckets. Your emergency food supply should include a bunch of non-perishable items in cans that have a reasonably long shelf life. You can find canned vegetables like tomatoes, corn, green beans, regular beans, and others your family will like. Also consider canned fruits and even meats like beef, tuna, chicken, salmon, turkey, chili, and pork.

Your long-term survival food should also include white rice, brown rice, pasta, oats, wheat, and other whole-grain foods that provide the nutritional vitamins, minerals, fiber, and proteins that are all necessary to survive and flourish. I make a ton of bread and other flour-based meals all year long. I use bread flour rather than all-purpose varieties. I don’t consider my flour as a long-term food storage item since I try to use it up within 12 months. Be sure to have some yeast too.

There are other items to consider as you plan your long-term storage needs and make sure you’re storing items your family will eat. Include peanut butter, some jams and jellies, spices, chocolate, syrup, and various types of sauce to make the meals more enjoyable.

Rotation of your foods is critical, so watch the expiration date listed and do an inventory from time to time. Note that I don’t use mylar bags very often. I haven’t had good luck with food stored in them, so I rely on my canning techniques and follow the “use by dates” on commercially canned foods.

3. Flashlight – Lantern

You can choose a flashlight with batteries or a solar one. If you decide on a battery-powered unit, then, of course, you must store the appropriate extra batteries. Every family member needs a flashlight so plan accordingly. I love my solar-powered units and have them charging on my window sills all the time.

Read More of My Articles  How To Wash Clothes When The Power Goes Out

Lanterns put out much more light than a flashlight when you need to light up a whole room. They also come in solar-powered products.

4. First Aid Kit

I hope you have a first aid kit that you have stocked appropriately and a system to rotate the goods stored within it as needed. If the stores close, you may not be able to get your favorite over-the-counter drugs you love to use. I’m going to add essential oils in this section because I rely on them heavily for many uses. Here is my popular First Aid Kit with a printable list available so you can print copies as needed. I also want to suggest some Bag Balm and Epsom Salts

Don’t forget to have a good supply of over-the-counter meds and your daily prescriptions.

5. Emergency Whistle – Flares

This survival item may save your life. You can buy some whistles that you can hang around your neck and alert people if you are lost or under some fallen materials. These are the ones I have purchased Plastic Emergency Whistles These can be heard up to a mile away.

Flares can alert others to your location if you’ve had to leave your home or to draw attention if you have sheltered in place.

6. Water Filter/Purifier

There are two that I recommend that I have in my preparedness items. I always recommend having more than one type in case one should fail. These make great Christmas gifts, by the way. Berkey-Sport Bottle or LifeStraw Personal Filter

I also like the PortaWell product since it provides battery power to pump more volume, and also has multiple filters to fit various situations.

7. Good Knife and Can Opener

You never know when you’ll need a knife, or two or three. I have a variety of knives for different uses. The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife is a great one for most all camping needs and possible self-defense. Here is another great one for multi-task uses  Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Don’t forget to include a good quality manual can opener. If you lose power you’ll be glad you have one of these to open all the canned goods you have on your pantry shelves.

8. Map & Compass

You can’t always rely on the GPS on our phones, so having a compass is one more way to find our way. They are lightweight and inexpensive. Be sure and have a state or city paper map in your emergency bags and your car.

9. Fire Starter

Be sure and have more than one way to start a fire. You may need to cook meals and stay warm, to name a few. You need to store waterproof matches, regular matches, and maybe even some InstaFire (I love this stuff, you can start a fire in the snow). InstaFire

10. Cordage

You can use cordage in so many ways. You may have to repel from a mountain, drag an animal or tie some stuff together. This one is a military-type Titan 550 Paracord

If you need to set up a temporary shelter, having ropes and cordage can make all the difference.

11. Paper Towels – Baby Wipes

You can use towels for spills, help start a fire, and wash your hands. Baby wipes come in handy, not only for babies, but you may end up using them for that “spit or sponge bath.”

12. Calendars

Your phone may not work, so these would become useful to check off each day or to set goals. Remember, your phone may not work in a massive power outage or an EMP. I highly recommend you read “Lights Out”.

13. Books and Games

If the power is out for days you may enjoy reading a book or two, right? Knowledge is important, but you’ll want to entertain the kids, and even some adults too.

14. Tent and Tarp

I’m not talking about a $2,500.00 tent, just a tent that may shelter you if you’re evacuated from your home. Having a tarp is another item to consider, thanks, Leanne.

15. Blankets

Blankets can be used for protection from the elements and block a doorway to keep you warm in one room. Cover your windows if it’s cold outside and your heater doesn’t work.

16. Bug Spray

We have so many mosquitoes this year, you understand why we need bug spray. Controlling pests may be a challenge after the emergency has subsided.

17. Cast Iron Pans

These are awesome because you can cook outside if you have the fuel. I store briquettes, lump charcoal, raw wood, and pinecones. My favorite cast iron pan is a 6-quart Dutch oven. You can make bread, a casserole, boil water, and make biscuits in one. It’s not just for peach cobbler anymore, although that’s delicious!

Cast iron pans made by Lodge are my go-to products. You don’t have to buy new, so keep your eyes open at a garage or estate sale, at second-hand and thrift stores. You’ll need to learn how to season them, so check out my archive for tips on how to do that.

18. Instant Coffee

I don’t need to say anything else, this is a must-have for most people. Think barter, if you don’t drink coffee, trust me on this one. This is my new favorite Instant Coffee, Jacob’s Velvet Coffee.

Read More of My Articles  7 Basic Survival Skills You Need To Know

19. Hand Sanitizer – Soaps

You can never have too much of this stuff. Do you love clean hands as much as I do? You’ll also need different soaps for hands, dishes, and small batches of clothes.

20. Toothbrushes

We all feel better if we’ve brushed our teeth. If some families need to move in with you, please have a stash of toothbrushes and toothpaste for them.

21. Hair Needs

Be sure and store some combs and hairbrushes for yourself and families that may have to live with you after an unforeseen disaster.

22. Deodorant

No one needs body odor when we’re in the middle of a disaster or when we’re cleaning up an unforeseen emergency. It’s all about mental health, if you feel good, you are more likely to be happy.

23. My Favorite Books

24. Garbage Bags

We need these for garbage, possible body bags, and temporary toilet liners.

25. Baggies

You can always use bags or baggies in several different sizes.

26. Board/Card Games

As mentioned, if we’re stuck at home because of a pandemic, severe weather, or a major disaster, games will help defer anxious feelings and provide some entertainment for young and old alike.

27. Candles/Lights

One cool idea is using those solar yard lights to gather the sun’s rays and power up for lights at night. Bring the lights in at night and take them back outside to power up for the next day. These are cheap and they work. You may want to store some lanterns because they can light up a room. Please remember to test the amount of light they project before an emergency. You want to be familiar with the ones you have stored in your preps.

Candles are fine, but I don’t store a lot of them. There are convenience issues, but also safety concerns.

28. Sleeping Bags

If you have sleeping bags you can stay warm if you buy the right ones. Check out the temps on each sleeping bag to see if they will work for you. If you live in the desert, you may get by with a lighter one compared to where snow is falling every day.

29. Extra Clothing

Whether you get wet or you’re homebound for many days, having a change of clothes is good for the mind and body. If you live in a colder climate, having coats, boots, hats, scarves, gloves, and warm socks makes sense. Have some for each family member,

30. Toilet Paper

You get the drift, stock up, please.

31. Paper Plates, Cups, and Silverware

If we have a disaster we may not want to use all the water we have stored for washing dishes. Having these paper products can save us water and time. You can always burn the paper products (in a safe location) if you have zero garbage pickup.

32. Aluminum Foil

I use aluminum foil for so many things. Aluminum Foil by Linda

33. Escape Tool For Your Vehicle

I have several of these because if you need to cut a seatbelt or break a window, you have it NOW. Vehicle Tool

34. Umbrellas

Sometimes you just need an umbrella, right? Or maybe two.

35. Four In One Tool

This is a great tool that’s used for turning off gas lines and water shutoff valves. 4 In-1 Tool

36. Pencil and Paper

You can always use pencils and paper. Crayons melt, so I’m not adding those here.

37. Duct Tape

You can never have too many rolls of duct tape, right?

38. Emergency Washing Machine

If you have some tubs or buckets you can at least wash your underwear. I also have a post in my archives about how to make an emergency washing machine. Check it out. Emergency Washing Machine

39. Clothesline and Clothespins

If you wash your clothes, you need a way to hang them up, right? Don’t skimp on the clothespins, trust me, some are sold that don’t last more than one load of wash. I may need to do a giveaway with some of my favorites called Kevin’s Clothespins

40. Condoms – Feminine Hygiene Products

What can I say, they will be needed. Your grocery store may be closed or the roads blocked, so have a good supply on hand.

41. Book Lights

If we lose power and we have zero light, having a book light would be awesome! You can at least read a book or two.

42. Wagon

You may need a wagon, a large one to haul things that you can’t carry alone.

43. Coolers

If we lose power our refrigerator or freezer may be okay for two, possibly three days. Yes, you can store water jugs in them, but eventually, you may have to transfer the food to some coolers. Hopefully, you can procure some ice. These coolers will stay cold for five days at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Igloo 120-gallon Cooler

44. Cloth Diapers

I highly recommend getting some cloth diapers for babies, toddlers, and adults. It’s a fact of life, they will be needed if the stores are closed for weeks or months. I can hear some young mothers saying, “yay, I love cloth diapers.” You may also hear, “there is no way I am using cloth diapers.” I raised all four of my daughters with cloth diapers and saved lots of money and protected the environment.

45. Griddle

I picture making a lot of pancakes after an emergency. Yes, I’ll be cooking outside and loving every minute.

Other Items to Consider

Other things that could prove to be life savers:

  • Communication devices – cell phones, walkie-talkies, a ham radio
  • Information sources – a crank radio to get weather and other condition reports even with a power outage
  • Cooking devices – I love my Dutch ovens, but you need a butane stove, camp stove, or other devices to cook with. They are designed for outside use. Have the right fuels too.
  • Car emergency kit – you could use jumper cables, sand, salt, and a shovel
  • An emergency clothes washer – I have a good post about building your backup washing machine

Final Word

Please remember, you can start with a few of the things mentioned in this post and then just keep adding to the list. You can do this, we can do this. Life is good if we can sleep at night knowing we are prepared for the unexpected.

If I’ve missed some items, let me know. I love your comments. May God bless this world.

Copyright Images: Emergency: AdobeStock_109228559

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  1. Thanks for another great post, but a special thanks for the print function. If someone is capable of remembering all your great information, good on them. Personally I print every post and add to my emergency three ring binder, most of which is in sheet protectors. When my power is down, so is my internet, laptop and printer, so by then I can’t come back and check on anything. By the way your book is great and your recommendations are spot on. Thanks for caring.

    1. Hi Beth, you made my day!! Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you can use the print button!! It’s crazy if we lose the internet we need those pages!! Thanks again, Linda

    2. I don’t have them printed out but I save them all. I will be printing many of them on Thursday when my husband has a Dr. appointment at VA. I will be able to print all day without any complaining.

  2. Linda, this is a very good list that needs to be shared. If I may, I want to pass on something in regards to shelters. My husband is in North Carolina as I write manning a shelter. This is of course a historic event, so circumstances are extreme. In the media I’m hearing a lot of ‘good news’ reporting as people do rise in their efforts to rescue and help. It has me pondering the event, though, as circumstances in the shelters my husband has been assigned to are not good. Not enough food or cots or basics for the overwhelming number of folks who did not heed or have the ability to leave the area ahead of the storm. If folks are told to evacuate, do so and take everything you have prepared to take with you. If things change and you are able to drive to a shelter, do the same thing. Shelters will NOT have supplies to meet every family’s needs and this can be a opportunity to help others. Remember the story of rock soup? A little bit from many can feed a lot of people. Your encouragement on another post to stock pile blankets could also be a huge help in shelters. My heart is breaking for those who live in the path of any disaster and for those who are trying to help but find they fall short. Thanks, Linda for all your encouragement in getting folks prepared. The only thing we can count on in these situations is ourselves; anything else is gravy.

    1. Hi Debbie, oh my gosh thanks for telling me about your husband who is manning a shelter. I hope everyone sees this comment because they will see the shelters cannot meet everyone’s needs. Wow, not enough food or cots, oh my goodness. Yes, indeed we need to be prepared to take care of ourselves. Hugs!!! Linda

  3. Hi Linda, Another use for a tent is to set it up inside your house when it is cold and everyone sleeps inside it. The body heat from all sleepers makes it a bit warmer and if you have kids, more fun too. As usual, a nice reminder/starter list. A few items sound like you meant to add a link in them… Thanks for all you do!

  4. Nice list. I’d like to mention that besides bag balm, tea tree oil is great, but not so commonly known.

    I own lots of knives and read or watch reviews often. If you’re on a budget or hesitant to spend money on a knife, Schrade and Gerber offer many good belt knives under $50. For heavy chopping the Kershaw Camp 10 is a great hybrid machete/knife for under $50. Mora of Sweden offers both excellent carbon and stainless steel knives. They do have bushcraft knives, but even the cheap ones are great. Their Companion model in either steel runs $12 – $20. The Becker or one of the Ontario or Esse knives will run more, but they’re very good.

    And if you want stainless steel (High humidity conditions) or plan to prepare food, 8Cr13Mov, 9Cr14Mov, or AUS-8 are all stainless steels. They put this information on the package.

    Check several knife dealers, Amazon and local stores. You’d be surprised to find the same EXACT knife for $40 at one source and then $60 at another.

  5. Instead of instant coffee, I bought a french press. I do have some instant, but I am really not a fan. If I can heat water, I can make a pot of coffee. I am thinking about the days in the beginning of an emergency, where I will want things to be as normal as I can make them. A pot of coffee will help a lot.

  6. Thanks, Linda ~
    This is a nice post. In light of the massive storm on the East coast, we should all heed your advice.

    Something that I will add to your list is rope – either additional clothes line or manila rope AND a book or something that shows knot tying. With a tarp, blankets, etc., you can (if needed) extend your tent to create an “awning” to cook under or sit in the shade depending on the time of year.

    When I go camping, I always carry instant coffee. I generally make coffee over the camp fire or on the butane stove but…I sometimes get in a hurry for caffeine! Then I just want hot water and voila, coffee!

    As for your comment about bartering – I have “kits” made up in zip lock bags to barter with. They each have things like bouillon, tea bags, instant coffee, TP, instant soup, wipes, etc. I figure in a dire emergency, I don’t want to dig through my bags to find something and expose all that I have. SO, in the outside pockets of my back pack, I keep a few of these bags and can hand them out or barter with them.

    1. Hi Leanne, I need to add rope to my paracord line, great tip! The tarp is another good one! I LOVE your “kits” ideas!! That is awesome!! I used to know all the knots that were taught to the Boy Scouts, I need to refresh my memory! Great comment! Linda

      1. Nothing to take a photo of. Really, I just take a ziplock bag and add whatever I think would be handy for someone. Each “kit” is different. So, the TP for an example, I take a partial roll and remove the tube, smash the remaining TP flat to go into the bag (saves space), add some instant coffee (I get either the tea bag style instant coffee or if I am feeling extra generous, Starbucks VIA), the soups (bouillon cubes in a ziplock snack bag, Cup o’ soup, etc.), I add water mixes (Kool-aid packets, that sort of mix in), sugar and creamer packets that I either get extras at the coffee shop or purchase, dollar store wipes (baby or regular), etc. Really nothing to take a photo of.

        I put things in the bags that I think someone would enjoy and need in an emergency situation. If I have sample toothpaste and toothbrushes from the dentist, I add those but I don’t have a huge supply of those on hand. If I am purchasing things, I get as many things that don’t have a short shelf life and are individually packaged. In my grab and go bags, I generally only have 3-4 barter kits.

        If you have the space to store these bags, you could also add paper and pencil/pens, cards, dollar store word search books, crayons, etc. It is really subject to how much one wants to spend or has on hand. I have used these kinds of bags to hand out to the homeless as well. In those, I generally put in more hygiene products, though.

  7. Hi Linda…those clothespins on Amazon are 86.00!! Could that be correct?

    I love the idea of having pre made barter bags!! Would it be possible for that person to post a photo so we can have a visual?

    Thank you…Deb

    1. Hi Deb, yes they are, they are so strong and sturdy. I like to buy right the first time. I think that’s the cost for 50 clothespins. I ended up throwing out the ones I bought at a local hardware store. They wouldn’t even hold sheets let alone jeans. Linda

  8. Hey there Linda! This was such an excellent article. It gives beginning preppers lots of necessary information and reminds more advanced preppers to double check their stockpile.
    Thanks for posting this and doing so with a sly sense of humor.

  9. For starting a fire, dryer lint with twigs works wonderfully. My husband makes up little fire starter boxes with dryer lint, twigs and a newspaper. It works perfectly.

  10. Hi Linda! As usual, a great post. Luckily we have most all of the items on the list. I am wanting to store more of what we already have. I love the idea of the “Barter Bags” or Homeless Bags. Great ideas! We don’t have a lot of homeless in the little town we live in, but it’s still a good idea to have some on hand. I need to make a trip to the dollar store soon! Thank you so much for sharing your information with us. I learn something new every day. Either that or I’m reminded of something I forgot. :^)

  11. I have made great fire starters by tearing off the cups from a cardboard egg carton, putting some dryer lint in them and pouring melted wax over. Let harden and store in a plastic bag. They last forever and burn for a really long time. My grandkids loved helping make these when they were younger. I still have them from at least 10 years go. Love your posts, Linda and those suggestions from the subscribers!

  12. Anne, I do the same except I just remove the top of the egg carton and leave the cups together. After the wax hardens, then I tear them apart. If you make a lot of them, popcorn tins – the ones you can get at Christmas time with different popcorn flavors – work great to keep them together. Then when I need some for camping, I just take what I need.

  13. Hi Linda. Great article and very timely. On Item #3 (flashlights) I suggest using flashlights that require only one battery. Batteries — or the lack thereof — are the weak link in the flashlight story. I also suggest having a variety of flashlights so that you can put to good use anything you find in the kid’s toys, the toothbrush, the carving knife, or the old radio. For $20-30 you can build quite a collection of one-battery lights. I put together a web page that lists one-battery lights by brand and part number. The listing starts at the 2:18 mark.

  14. Hello Linda,
    When we have a power outage, we put our battery powered lanterns or candles on a mirror. The reflection nearly doubles the light which means we need fewer candles.

  15. Linda,

    Happy New Year!!! Excellent article and comments as usual. I love KaBar knives–inherited one from my dad, who was a Marine in the Korean War. Mine isn’t as sleek looking as the one you linked to but it’s still a great knife. I enjoyed Frank’s comment and agree with him.

    I would add Zanfel to your list. It is, quite simply, the best anti-poison ivy/oak/sumac treatment available. If you are exposed, use it and beat misery to the punch.

    I would substitute Gorilla tape for duct tape, as it is much stronger, and add a Kindle reader instead of a book light, but that’s just me.

  16. I would print out paper crafts & school materials up to 12th grade so that your children’s education is not stopped and from experience I have learned that children learn faster in a homeschool situation. You might go and get materials from a Teachers store that will help you with the teaching. Of course learning survival skills will also give them a hand up. Letting children help with the cooking also helps with their schoolwork

  17. Great list! I will be saving it to print later. One thing tho: #23 on Survival Books is basically empty. Any links are dead.

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