I believe in having all the “big” things, to prepare for the possible breakdown of civil society. I have a large home outside of a small mid-west town, and expect 12 people to arrive to hunker down, if things do fall apart. I need to be able to feed and supply of them, perhaps for years.
So I have 1,200 gallons of Kerosene. This is intended for heating the home for 3 winters, and I have 3 Kerosene heaters to do the job. The Kerosene is stored in in 3 large 330 gallon plastic totes, half buried in my back yard, hidden by a wood pile, as well as four 55 gallon drums buried under my deck. I have a hand-crank pump to get fuel from either type of container. I have treated it all with PRI-D, and I expect it to last for decades. I have stored more PRI-D just in case.
I have 12,000+ pounds of food on site. Along with lots of canned goods and dried meals, I have barrels of white rice, rye, Triticale, 5,000 pounds of hard red wheat, pinto beans, and 250 pounds of popcorn. I have another 4,000 pounds of wheat in a barrels in a second location.
I bought the rice, beans and popcorn at Restaurant Depot in 50# bags, and the rest as “seed” from a local grain dealer, for around $14 per 60# bushel. It's mostly stored in 55 gallon drums, with liners, and dry ice to drive out the oxygen. Some is also in 6 gallon buckets.
I have 300 gallons of water. 100 gallons of this is instantly drinkable, in 1/2-liter bottles. I also have 100 gallons in two water heaters, and 110 gallons in two 55 gallon drums in my basement. I could filter and/or disinfect this water if I needed to drink it, but it's intended for washing and toilet flushing. I also have 1,000 coffee filters, and various-sized of commercial filters, to handle drinking water for the foreseeable future. I have a 165 gallon tank collecting rain water from my downspouts as well, for gardening. I bought that for $20 off Craig's List.
I have 36,000 rounds of ammo and eight guns. I try to double up on calibers, so I have two rifles that use .223, two hand guns that use .40 S&W, and a .22 rifle and .22 pistol. Much of the ammo is stored in sealed 4-gallon buckets with desiccants, but I always keep about 500 rounds in magazines ready to go.
I have bags of silver, mostly in junk pre-1965 coins, as well as gold in 1 oz coins. I don't know if this will be needed for actual spending during a breakdown, but it should transport a chuck of wealth thru a hyperinflation. Once there is a new currency, I can exchange the silver a little at a time to buy items I need.
I also have Canadian dollars, which I think will do better than US currency at holding it's value. And I have it in a Canadian bank, and I renewed my passport, in case I need to bug out for real. I'm just a few hours from the border.
But I don't just want to survive if TSHTF. I want to thrive. So over the past few years I have gathered lots of other items that I don't want to be without, when there is no store to run to. Once you have the big things, be sure to look for these “little things”, to make life easier.
I have way too many of most of these items for our own use, unless things stay broken down forever, but I like them for trade items as well. Barter may become very important.
I bought small 400 bars of soap. These are individually wrapped hotel-size bars. I paid $17 on eBay, or 4 cents each. I want to be clean post-apocalypse, and these should trade well. To help conserve water, I also bought a bucket of 500 Clorox disinfecting wipes. Then I added 40 tooth brushes, at 5 for $1. Dental hygiene will be important, and they should be trade well too.
I worry about lighting, especially in the winter, so I bought 3 gross (432) votive candles from TheCandleDepot.com, for 30 cents each. They burn 15 hours. I also bought sixå of the 120 hour Nu-wick candles on eBay for about $10 each. They cost more per hour of light than the votive candles, but you can put 3 wicks in them, and cook over them if needed. So combined, I have about 7,200 hours of candle light. I think the small 15 hour candles will be good trading items as well.
I bought 200 Fish hooks for $1 at a flea market. Others will need them.
I bought 12 rolls of Vietnam-era trip wire, 160 feet each, on eBay, and 1,000 feet of 6# fishing line. I want to have lots of trip wires and booby traps to protect the homestead. I also bought 50 old-fashioned mouse traps, 25 cents each, to use with the trip wires. (You can attach the trip wire to the “cheese spot” and rig a shotgun shell primer under the spring arm, and make a nifty trap or alarm. I put aside 100 shotgun shell primers for this too.)
I bought 100 tubes of Super Glue on eBay, for about $20. Good for trading, good for quick small repairs, and also good for treating minor cuts. In a pinch you can glue the cut shut. Nice pocket size item for trading.
I bought 4 gallons of Barricade Fire Blocking Gel for about $250. You can but buy it on eBay. That's a lot of money, but my house backs up to a woods. If that woods starts on fire, I can quickly coat my roof and deck with this stuff, and it simply will not burn down. Very important if there's no fire department available because TSHTF.
I bought three Water dispensing Fire Extinguishers via eBay, from a guy who salvages old buildings. Just $15 each. They hold 2.5 gallons of water, and you pump them up with a bike pump for pressure. You wouldn't believe how far they throw a powerful stream of water! They are like water cannons. I could use them with a mixture of Barricade Gel to coat my roof will standing on the ground, if needed. Otherwise, I have handy fire extinguishers that I can refill with water again and again.
I bought 1,200 doses of Antibiotics, from various Pet Med places on line, and Amazon. I'm convinced they are the same as people meds. I did my research, and settled on 200 doses of Cephalexin, 200 doses of Ciprofloxacin, 100 Metronidazole, 200 Doxycycline, 300 Amoxicillin, and 200 Ampicillin.
I have them in the refrigerator until TSHTF, where they should stay near full potency for a decade. After the electricity fails, they should still last for many years, and only slowly loose their punch. After a decade, I may need to take double the dosage for the same effect, so I have stocked a good supply. I hope to have a doctor to diagnose any problems, but in an emergency, I have some medical books, and may have to roll the dice in the face of a serious infection.
To help prevent illness, I also bought 100 of the N95 masks, and 200 pairs of rubber gloves. (Don't ask me why, but I also bought 300 unopened, empty insulin syringes, on Craig's List for $20.) I also bought four boxes of 100 count butterfly bandages, as well as many boxes of band aids, and 30 rolls of wrapping bandages. A primitive lifestyle can lead to lots of cuts and bumps, and I want to be prepared.
I have all the standard over-the-counter stuff, purchased as Sam's Club. This included many bottles of Imodium, Benadryl, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol and Robitussin. I also bought a gallon of Chlorhexidine for washing wounds, and Silver Sulfadiazine and Ichthammol, based on articles I've read on treating injuries. I also tucked away 4 quarts of Hydrogen Peroxide and 4 quarts of rubbing alcohol.
I've also stocked up on bottles of vitamins. If TSHTF, nutrition will suffer. So I have 50 big bottles of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Acidophilus, and a good multiple vitamin. This should handle my crew for years, and also allow some trading of bottles.
Having fire will always be important, so I bought 4,600 Strike Anywhere matches, in 32-match boxes. These individual boxes should make great trading items, so I bought a gross of them. I also bought more than 50 lighters, and spare fluid.
I am about to have installed a solar panel system and windmill to power the whole retreat, but I did buy 100 NiMH AA and AAA Batteries, and a small solar recharger. All my little flashlights and tools use these, so I wanted a bunch. There may even be a business opportunity, where you recharge batteries for people, and swap them charged ones for dead ones, as needed.
I hate bugs, so I bought 200 bottles of Mosquito spray! Just 17 cents each from a guy who had overstocked. Not aerosol cans, but the pump kinds, so they'll never go flat. I did the research, and the active ingredients seem to have a long shelf life. Farming would be unpleasant without bug spray, as would summer nighttime patrolling, and the bottles should also command a great deal in trade. And when they finally ban DEET, I'll be all set.
I should get more, but I do have 10 bottles of sunscreen.
I'm obsessed with home security, so I bought 600 feet of razor wire (20 rolls of 30 ft each) and 10,000 feet of barbed wire. (Remember to get the special gloves for handling the razor wire!) I know wire won't keep people out if it's undefended, but we plan on it slowing the bad guys down long enough to shoot 'em. Or just discourage them, so they move on to easier targets. There are some good free PDFs on the net describing how to layout a good Soviet-style tangle foot obstacle. Print one out and save it.
I may want to fortify defensive posts, and observations posts, so I have 500 sandbags. Get the clear plastic self-sealing bags, from Home Depot, for about 35 cents each in boxes of 50. They store/stack well, and self-sealing plastic bags have lots of uses besides home defense. (Such as human waste disposal.)
I expect we'll need to build stuff after TSHTF. The lumberyard is unlikely to be open if things really fall apart. So I bought about 10,000 nails and screws. I bought dozens of trays of them at an area flea market, for about $50.
The attic above my garage was not floored when I bought my home. I put in a pull-down stairway, and “floored” the attic with loose 8-foot 2X4s. I put about 100+ of them up there, not nailed down. [JWR Adds: That approach is not recommended in earthquake country.] So now it's a great place for me to store stuff like my barbed wire spools. If and when I do need the wood for building, I can slowly un-floor my garage attic and have 100+ 2X4s for construction. Until then, they make a fine, inexpensive floor.
I have 720 packets of various vegetable seeds. I found a seed company distributor online, and ordered one of their vegetable variety display racks, at around 10 cent per packet. These are the packs that sell for 59 cents.
They are hybrid seeds, so the next-generation seeds collected from their veggies won't always reproduce true. But I look at it this way – they are bred to produce bountiful first generation crops, unlike heirloom seeds, so my early crops after TSHTF will be reliable and big. And I have so many packs, I won't need to save more seeds for decades. Like all seeds, they should store well in my cool, dry basement, and the $70 they cost me wouldn't have bought me all that many heirloom seeds. I expect the packets will make great trading items too.
I have 50 red laser pointers with white LED lights included. I buy these on eBay for under $1 each, batteries and shipping included. I think the little white lights are handy for in your pocket or hanging on a nail. And we will use the red laser lights, in the hands of some of the women-folk, to make any raiders think we have even more guns aimed at them than we do. (I also want to rig up a sort of hand-held “laser light gun” with dozens of lasers, which can be used to blind siege folks. People are very afraid of looking into one of those lasers, and being blinded, so they should be intimidating!)
I worry about a large group rushing the retreat, in greater numbers than we can shoot quickly. Or at night or as a surprise attack using a distraction. If a group crashes through multiple doors and windows at once, we could be screwed. So I bought a 150 ft long heavy fishing net, 12 ft wide, on eBay, for $100.
I cut the big net into various sizes for hanging over all the doors and ground-floor windows. These individual nets can be hung quickly with the hooks I have, and should secure all the entries long enough for us to defend them. Even if you shoot my front door of its hinges, it's just going to hang there in place, held up by the heavy netting inside. Then I'm going to shoot you through it.
I bought 7 pounds of calcium hypochlorite (pool shock) for less than $20 from InyoPools.com. Each pound will make enough chlorine bleach to disinfect 12,000 gallons of water. I intend to make bottles of bleach in my 1/2-liter water bottles, and sell them as a business when TSHTF. Each little bottle will itself disinfect 12 gallons of water for someone. I'll make some money, and save some lives at the same time.
I have stored 72 gallons of treated gasoline in twelve 6-gallon cans. I empty one into my car each month, and refill it, to keep the stock of gas fresh. I use the mid-grade without ethanol, in case I want to use it in small engines.
I also bought 1 gallon of PRI-G, to rejuvenate 2,000 gallons in the future. A few years after TSHTF, there will likely be lots of old “worthless” gasoline, that can be completely reconstituted if you have PRI-G set aside. It costs about $85 a gallon on line, but I think it's worth it--from www.Batterystuff.com. Five years after a collapse, I still want to have a chainsaw! (I bought several extra chains for the saw as well. And 2 back-up chain saws, tucked away.)
Because I worry about bullets flying in through my walls, and I also worry about inflation, I have slowly accumulated 1 million pennies (400 boxes, $25 each). Each box already has about $40 in copper (pre-1981 pennies make up about 30% of each box), so I'm ahead $15 the day I “buy” them. I don't sort out the good pennies.
I have the unopened boxes stacked along the outside walls of the upstairs bedrooms. I guarantee no rifle bullet is getting through the siding, the wall boards, and the boxes of pennies. If we never collapse, I have a great inflation hedge in the pre-1981 copper pennies. If we have deflation, my coins will increase in buying power. And in a hyperinflation, if we get a new currency, the coins may be accepted as part of the new money, and avoid the inflation entirely.
Since they don't make Sears catalogs any more, I have stocked up 200+ rolls of toilet paper. I keep adding to the stash. It takes up some space, but I don't want to think about the end of the world without toilet paper. Not with 14 people living in my home if things fall apart! I also bought one of those handy 5-gallon bucket toilet seat tops, just in case.
I don't expect your average thugs to have tear gas, but some left-over police state types may have some. So I bought 10 Israeli M15 Gas Masks and 20 spare 40mm filters on eBay. I can also use them if the woods behind my house is on fire, and I'm busy spraying Barricade Gel on my roof while the smoke surrounds me.
I also bought five canisters of Clear Out tear gas from one of your sponsors, KeepShooting.com. $17 each. (Remember to use the SurvivalBlog discount code "sb"!) I figure I can roll a can down the stairs from my second floor if intruders do get in, and our gas masks will protect us from the effects, and allow us to fight while the tear gas gives us the edge.
I also bought a roll of 1,000 feet of 550 paracord for $36, from another of your sponsors CampingSurvival.com. That stuff is good for so many things. I added an 4-wheel block & tackle, so with the paracord I can lift some very heavy items. I've practiced with it, and it's fun to lift 100 pounds with one hand. Don't forget a few hundred cable ties as well. Very handy.
Speaking of lifting things by hand, buy gloves when you find them inexpensively. I also bought the expensive studded gloves for handling razor wire, and some “welding glove” for high heat, and some rubber coated gloves, but mostly you want a box full of more modest gloves. Simple cloth hand-covers, for doing regular outdoor tasks, will really save on the wear and tear, as well as precious water for hand-scrubbing. At flea markets, I often see them for $1 a pair, so I have stocked up. They should trade well too. (If you find a couple nicer, leather gloves, stash those away as well.)
I continue to read survival blogs every day, and I am always looking for new items that will be both handy, and good for trading. I usually buy them on eBay. I also find the big outdoor flea markets offer a large variety of useful items. And I watch Craig's List for things I haven't thought of. I also love the Deal of the Day sites. Each day, I stop by TodaysDOD.com, for a summary of all the deal site offers, and I often find bargains on stuff I think I can use.
Start a list of things you'd like to have on the shelf. Add to it every time you read something interesting on the web. Don't rush out and buy them all at once, but check the items off as you come across them at a bargain price. In a surprisingly short time, you will find you have stocked a lot of handy items for use, and for trading. Good luck.