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Carolyn Nicolaysen
Wednesday, June 05 2013

Emergency Preparedness: It’s Not All About Food

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Recently I read an article on a prepper site that talked about the items we should hoard now. Are you kidding me? We have been labeled as hoarders and there are government agencies that would like to outlaw food storage and limit the amount of food we have in our homes to a two week supply. Why are we adding fuel to this fire by calling ourselves hoarders? We are not! Hoarding is purchasing more of an item than you need, or can use in a timely way, when that items is in short supply. Hoarding denies others the opportunity to get what they need, leaving them without. Stockpiling is stocking up on an item when it is in adequate supply so everyone can get what they need. The television show “Extreme Couponing” drove me crazy; that was hoarding. When someone goes in and purchases all of an item so there is none left for others, they are hoarding.

Let’s stock up now on these non-food items enabling us to care for ourselves, and others when a crisis affects our home or neighborhood. The list can be overwhelming but, as we do with food storage, take it one week at a time and add something. Take an inventory this week and make a list of the items you are still in need of. Then get started.

  1. Toilet paper. It should be obvious why this is my number one item. Would you want to be without? Would others want to do without? No, therefore I suggest you stock up on plenty to share and to trade. What would you trade for a roll during a crisis? TP, is a great barter item.
  2. Toothpaste. I know there are substitutes for toothpaste but I would prefer minty fresh to baking soda any day. Toothpaste stores well and again I would trade for it if I were without.
  3. Toothbrushes. Stock up at the dollar store on both child and adult sizes. You never know who may need to evacuate to your home. Be sure to change toothbrushes every six months. Poor dental care can lead to serious illness so never underestimate the importance of dental care supplies in your General Store.
  4. Dental floss. While you may immediately think dental care, and you should, be aware there are many emergency as well as everyday uses for dental floss. See your April 2010 Totally Ready Newsletter for ideas.
  5. Shampoo and conditioner. With the power out and little water there won't be much bathing, but you'll be glad you stocked up on shampoo and conditioner if your emergency is a job loss or other family financial emergency. Remember we are preparing to be self reliant under all circumstances not just during and after a weather disaster.
  6. Feminine hygiene products. Store many and various sizes. Sanitary napkins are also wonderful to us as compresses for bleeding injuries.
  7. Hand sanitizers. You won't want to use limited water to wash hands in times of limited clean water. We are seeing deaths in the Middle East, Africa and Europe right now caused by the coronavirus. This virus is very deadly and experts are stumped as to how to treat it. Stocking up on hand sanitizers will help you through times of medical emergencies such as this virus or even an outbreak of chicken pox, pandemic, and of course cleaning up debris after a disaster.
  8. Bath soaps. Again for the same reasons you are storing shampoo, store soap. Also, as with all of the toiletry items they are great for bartering as most people will not have thought to store them.
  9. Sunscreen. There is no need to add a sunburn to your distress during a time of crisis.
  10. Lip balms. When cleaning up after a disaster you could be in drenching rain or blistering heat, why add chapped lips to the pain?
  11. Five gallon buckets. Get a few of these from your local hardware store. They can be the really inexpensive ones. They can be used for port-a-potties, washing machines, (see your July 2009 Newsletter), grab and go kit items, to organize your car kit, extra oil and hoses in the trunk, to collect rain water and much more.
  12. Food grade five gallon buckets. There is a difference and you do not want to be storing food or drinking water in a non-food grade bucket. Use a food grade to collect rain water for drinking and of course use them for storing food.
  13. Paper cups, paper plates and paper bowls. Using paper during a time of crisis will save on your limited supply of water and are easy to burn when garbage collection has been halted. Purchase a variety of sizes, all your meals will not be dinner size. Also purchase a various weights, all do not all have to be the heaviest variety as the cheapest are sufficient for a simple sandwich. You will probably use more bowls than you think as Dutch oven meals are often one pot and appropriate to eat from a bowl. Bowls are also perfect for snacks for the kids as well as the obvious, oatmeal for breakfast. Be sure to have cups appropriate for both cold and hot drinks. NO Styrofoam, just two different weights of paper cups.
  14. Plastic utensils. Save water by using disposable utensils. Consider what you will be eating, lots of oatmeal and soups, then you will want lots of spoons.
  15. Coffee maker filters. There are so many uses for these other than as a coffee filter. When serving a PB and J sandwich simply wrap it in a filter, saves a plate and also the napkin. Check out the uses in your July 2012 Totally Ready Newsletter.
  16. Napkins and paper towels. This may not be politically correct but as someone who is preparing to be self reliant under all circumstances these are essential. I personally use rags at home to clean counters and we use cloth napkins, well not always. During an emergency when water is scarce you will want paper so it can easily be disposed of and will not use precious water supplies.
  17. Facial tissues. I guess you could use TP or paper towels but if you are dealing with a crisis situation and become ill you want to make the patient as comfortable as possible. If your emergency is a pandemic you will want everyone in your home to have their own box to avoid passing along germs as much as possible, maybe a few boxes each.
  18. Diapers. If you have children or grandchildren you are planning for always store diapers a size too large.


  1. Expectation Revolution - Carry the news YOU WON'T LOSE tucked away to WIN that rainy day!
  2. Great list! My brother-in-law dentist says the fluoride in toothpastes doesn't last indefinitely, so he would recommend a year turnaround on your toothpastes (so much for all those tubes I bought on sale).
  3. Great list!
  4. Thanks for these tips. I had not thought about several of them.
  5. Ma'am, you forgot to add "A truck to haul it." I've been doing emergency prep since 1975, and the idea is to survive, not have all the comforts of home. If you're going to spend money: #1 water, #2 fire/signal, #3 survival tools/first aid, #4 personal hygiene, #5 cooking, #6 anything else. Also add spare prescription medicines, spare eyeglasses, and personal ID to your list.

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