Preppers love lists. And here is a TOP 50 list, hurray! Get this stuff and you’re set! Problem is, it’s a fantasy. It’s supposed to be Survival Items, but quickly devolves into comfort items and lifestyle items. It fails to acknowledge hard truths about a survival situation. In fact, there is so much wrong with it, I had to chime in. My comments in [ xxxx] snips with ….
Our Top 50 TEOTWAWKI Survival Items List
[SURVIVAL- not comfort, not rebuild society. That should be the final determination of whether something makes a SURVIVAL list.]
Rubbing alcohol: Not only is rubbing alcohol good for disinfecting, it can also be used as a great ice pack when combined 1:2 with water. Rubbing alcohol also works as a fire starter, cleaning and disinfecting tools and more. Just don’t use it for mixed drinks!
[so, primary use is icepack? Icepack is a survival item? Where will you cool it down? Rubbing alcohol is a USEFUL and cheap thing to store. Store the highest strength you can, and save it for disinfecting. NOT useful as a firestarter.]
Yarn: Having wool-yielding animals, processing wool, and spinning yarn is laborious, and unless you’re already an expert your future learning curve will thank you for having a supply of yarns on hand for knitting warm clothing and making repairs.
[not survival- noted as NS! from here on out, lifestyle and requires a skill- noted as LS! Better to store warm clothing, extra items. You do not have the time or energy in a survival situation to knit!]
First aid ointment: A simple cut can result in serious infection if not treated properly. And because tubes of first aid ointment usually only contain an ounce, make sure you have plenty on your survival items list.
[oh for Pete’s sake, you need a bunch of medical supplies. You need references and training. A couple of bandaids and some ointment are NS! Better- make sure your survival med kit includes AB ointment, burn cream, suture alternatives like Steristrips, skin glue, or tape. You will need WAY MORE supplies for wound treatment than you think, stock up!]
Anti-diarrhea medications: Diarrhea … regularly kills folks… [FIFY]
[meds, yes AD meds. Yes all of the OTC meds. AD meds can be survival, and you need salt replacement tabs or ORS electrolyte solutions too. Better get some anti-biotics too, not having them could kill you.]
Arnica: This homeopathic remedy [!!]… used as a home remedy for bruises and sprains. …
[OFP’sS! Lights are on people, stock the real stuff. Add some tiger balm to your medical preps if you are worried about bruises. NS! ]
Toiletries, deodorant, beauty products: …
Bleach: The importance of cleanliness and disinfection of cooking utensils, the home, garden tools, animal holdings, and more will increase as diseases increase in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. You should have lots of this on hand.
[can’t argue this, get bleach, get the powder to make more. Stored liquid bleach degrades in strength over time. When you run out, salt has been used as a cleaner throughout history.]
Books of all sorts, in print: … entertainment. …
[a good reference library is vital for long term survival. First Aid could be vital for short term. Entertainment is NS! Yes, you should include the great works. NS! ]
Brewing/alcohol making supplies: …
[nice idea, NS! LS! needs knowledge and skills. Can be improvised with the knowledge and skills, WAY more useful as sterilizer and anesthetic than as recreation or trade item.]
Ammunition reloading equipment: A lot of people have a stored supply of ammunition, but once that runs out, will more be available at stores?
[stores?? wtf? survival!]
… could save a lot of money by investing in a reloading press.
[save money?? LS! needs knowledge and skills. STOCK UP NOW! Unless you are running and gunning, (in which case you aren’t saving your brass) you will use your ammo for hunting, which might be 50 rounds a year of the big stuff and more of 22. Better would be learn about traps, snares, and alternative QUIETER methods of taking game. If your focus is long term grid down, get some black power arms and learn to use them.]
Citric acid: It comes in canisters large or small, and is important for food preservation, cleaning, and as an additive for nutritious seed sprouting. It also acts as a meat tenderizer for the inevitable tough meats you’ll be eating, and can be used to flavor beverages. You can buy it in bulk online for your survival items list.
[right thing, wrong reasons, NS!]
Cocoa nibs: The health benefits of quality, unsweetened cocoa are well documented, and it will be worth its weight in gold as a cherished ingredient for sweets and treats. It can be used as a valuable barter item, but because of its storage abilities and ability to bring joy to a dreary existence, we recommend keeping it for yourself. And store more. Nibs can be used in themselves or ground into powder, so having nibs on hand is more versatile.
[OMFG. NS! LS! Survival does NOT mean sitting on the porch with a cup of cocoa!]
Paracord: You’ll need to tie things up and genuine milspec Paracord is stronger, lighter and more versatile than rope. Plus, the seven inner strands of Paracord can also be separated and utilized for another variety of uses only adds to its handiness and the importance of always keeping it with you. (We’ve used Paracord to lace up our hiking boots. Heck, you can even floss with one of the inner threads of Paracord! Can you tell we love this stuff?)
[paracord is a legitimate survival item, IF YOU KNOW WHAT you can use it for. Wearing the bracelet won’t save you. Long term survival– better is storing cordage of all kinds. Block and tackle, tow ropes, string, cord, thread, rope is a vital tool in a muscle powered world.]
Dates: Dried dates are a very nourishing, and very storable, food. They are very sweet, which will be welcome when sweeteners become scarce.
MRE (Meals Ready to Eat): Growing vegetables and hunting game are essential skills, but on the slow days, it’s good to have some back up. High-quality MRE has an extremely long shelf life and come in a variety of tasty flavors, so you’ll have variety on your survival items list.
[having some food, readily available, is a great survival tool. You can go a long time without food if you aren’t doing anything, and are sheltered. Not so true if you are doing heavy work or exposed to the elements. You will increase your short term chances the more you have readily available. I’ll leave discussion of whether MREs are tasty to those with extensive experience, but I’ve never heard them described that way. Better for the average person to store freeze dried backpacking meals, retort meals, or even protein powder shakes than MREs, and you better have much more than just enough for the occasional day when the garden isn’t producing or the game is scarce (ie MOST days.)]
Epsom salt: Epsom salts contain important magnesium, which is useful for soaking sore muscles, soothing sprains, and more. Epsom salt is also useful in the garden to help increase vegetable yields.
[again, like most of this list, NOT survival NS!]
Fabric: Chances are you’re forgetting some key, long-term items in your holdings, like fabric and the skills to make new clothing as your current stock wears out. In a bad scenario, your clothing will take much more of a beating than it currently does now, and you’ll wish you had denim, cotton, and more available for repairs or making new clothes.
[NS!! LS! assumes you’ve also got the knowledge and skill and other infrastructure to make clothes, as well as the time and energy. Better to store more clothes. SOME fabric is useful, mostly canvas, denim, etc, and was a staple of frontier life, but they bought clothes when they could afford it, because they were better than homemade. For long term survival– better to be sure you have replacement clothes for all the members of your group in appropriate sizes and for the various seasons.]
Feminine supplies: If you’re a woman or have women in the household, feminine supplies will be essential to have on hand, however, we don’t recommend tampons. Why? One average female in the U.S. will use between 10,000 and 15,000 disposable tampons or pads in a lifetime, meaning there is no way to stock enough. Instead, stock reusable sea sponges and reusable pads, which can be cleaned, disinfected, and reused.
[I’ll leave this for someone with experience, but there are other products that are better than “sea sponge” and many were used throughout history. For immediate survival, a good supply of feminine hygiene will help morale and health. Long term, NS!]
Nail files and nail clippers: Poor foot and nail maintenance and health can cause serious problems and infections later. Don’t underestimate the importance of caring for your feet and hands, arguably the most important tools you’ll have. [emp added]
[better to say for long term survival– store the grooming tools you need, razors, scissors, clippers, etc. Short term NS!!! Recommended– putting away sturdy boots, and all different kinds of gloves, and USE THEM to protect yourself.]
Water filtration and water purification: Water is essential for life so you’ll need several gallons a day per person. So even if you store enough for a year, what about year two? It’s a good idea to have a good filtration system, as well as water purification tablets as backup.
[FINALLY we get to water. And, “it’s a good idea”??? It’s CRITICAL that you have water to drink and for sanitation. Tabs, filters, bleach, boiled, or irradiated, you need to get it, treat it, store it, use it. FIRST NEED is water.]
Medicinal houseplants: Aloe vera’s medicinal uses are wonderful, so we recommend having renewable resource of medicinal houseplants like aloe vera and citronella. Can’t grow houseplants? Now is the time to learn. Collect medicinal houseplants and make sure you know how to grow them effectively for the home medicine arsenal.
[oh jeez, more amateur NOT survival lifestyle crap. Much more effective things are available right now, stock up! Sure, plant the garden, but medicinal use of plants is lifestyle and again depends on skills and knowledge. Add some books to your reference library.]
Games: Along with good books, games are more important than you think to keep the family sane. TVs and DVD players breakdown in time, but Uno, poker, chess, and checkers never wear down and are always available to you and your family when it’s too dark and cold outside to do anything else. Winters will be longer than you think without entertainment.
[ok, I’m gonna be kind and put this as Nice to Have, for long term survival. Distracting the kids is ok, but it’s not gonna feed them or keep them safe.]
Garlic: As a valuable flavor enhancer and for its medicinal and healing properties, there is no way you can have enough. We also recommend storing and regularly rotating bulbs for growing garlic of your own when stored supplies run low.
[someone is confused about the hobby homesteader and SURVIVING THE END OF THE WORLD. NS!]
Ichthamol ointment: This sticky, dark, slightly stinky goop is also known as drawing salve and it works incredibly well for extracting splinters. Just a dab will do ya, so a one-ounce tube of it will last years. Every medicine cabinet should have this.
[no idea what this is, but a magnifying glass, AB cream, and tweezers work great, are quick, and should be part of medical preps. No need to stock something else. Oh, and NS!]
Hand tools: Repairs to your shelter and anything else will be necessary. There are many antique and new hand tools that will drill, dovetail, saw, and plane wood for shelter maintenance. Invest in the basics.
[This is a whole post right here. Yes, hand tools, but also POWERED TOOLS for as long as you can. Also needs a ton of skills and knowledge to be put to use. Long term only.]
Hemp seeds: Hemp is good for fiber for nets and rope, can be woven into excellent fabric, and can be used to make a good milk product. No, it won’t make you high.
[No you won’t be making fiber and rope. NS!]
Honey: It has an indefinite shelf life (honey has been found in Egyptian tombs and is still perfectly edible) and is important as a sweetener. You’ll also need honey’s antibacterial properties to heal wounds. Make sure it’s 100 percent pure honey.
[NS! No one ever died because they didn’t have sweetener. Not a bad idea to put up honey though, for the reasons listed, just not a survival item.]
Potassium iodate (KIO3): Potassium iodate is a critical item to have in the event of a nuclear disaster. Radioactive fallout can travel thousands of miles and if you’re in the zone where it occurs, you can be sickened and die in short order. KIO3 protects your sensitive thyroid gland from the effects of radioactive iodine, meaning you don’t want to be without this important precaution.
[I’ll leave this to RBT to comment, but I get the feeling the author has no knowledge or experience and is just parroting this. And how will he know to take the pills unless he’s got monitoring equipment?]
Compost pile: Composting is environmentally friendly and will enrich your soil to help plants grow. You can throw any vegetable waste in your compost pile (and even coffee grounds and egg shells), but absolutely no meat, fat or sweet things that might attract rodents or bugs. Locate your compost pile well away from the house, keep it moist and turn it over regularly.
[OMFG NS! Not even long term. Nice to have, not critical.]
Loom: Storing fabric is important, but having a loom available for weaving blankets, clothing, and more will be important. A large loom is not necessary; even small woven squares can be stitched together into larger items.
[argg. hippy hobbyist. NO NOT A SURVIVAL ITEM.]
Lye: Lye is used in soap making and to preserve or prepare certain types of food, like hominy, curing olives, or making century eggs. It will also be impossible to make soap without lye. Historically, lye was made using wood ashes, but this process takes time to learn to do correctly, and some woods work better than others.
[ok might be a long term item, but can be made onsite. If you are making soap post SHTF, you can make lye.]
Needles/thread: Don’t underestimate the amount of thread that will be necessary for clothing repair, and how easily needles can break when being used regularly. During the Revolutionary War, sewing needles were a trade item among women. It’s a good idea to stock different thicknesses of thread, making sure not to neglect heavy-duty thread for repairing jeans or leather items. And knitting needles will enable you to make sweaters, mittens and blankets to a host of other items. Sewing and knitting are essential skills.
[I’ve got a sturdy threaded needle in my everyday carry, so I’m gonna say it can be appropriate for a survival list. Small, light, and useful. Store a bunch.]
Oil press: Oil is not only for cooking, it is also for soap making, food preservation, and health and skin care. The problem is that oil doesn’t store well. An oil press will allow you to extract oils from nuts or seeds.
[Long term? IDK, but not something on everyone’s mind. I’m thinking animal fat is way more plentiful and useful. ]
Old medical books: While treatments can be found in old medical books, they’re most important use is to diagnose disease symptoms. Many diseases have been near eradicated and medical books no longer teach students what they look like. These diseases will likely reemerge in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.
[Falls under reference library. And if you get the right books, modern books DO have diagnostic info, as well as modern treatment. Does you no good to know Johnny has croup if you don’t know what to do about it.]
Pencils/pens/paper: We hardly use them anymore, but they will become more desirable and more valuable later. Make sure you have enough.
[I’ve got a pencil and some paper in my kit, so ok, but generally not a survival item. USEFUL as all get out, not critical.]
Reading glasses: We age and along with that comes reading difficulties once we hit middle age. Keep several pair, in case you lose or break them… which you will.
[long term. Spare prescription glasses if you use them should be MUCH higher up your list. You can’t IFF before shooting if you can’t see.]
Salt: No, you’re not storing enough for eating or food preservation. It never goes bad. Store more.
[FINALLY, a good item, long term, not short]
Shoes for children: …
Slingshot: Silent, deadly, and accurate with practice, the sling shot is a way to defend yourself and hunt small game, even when ammo runs out. Rocks can be used effectively if you have practice under your belt. Make sure everyone in your group has at least one.
[Not silent, Not deadly. The rubber bands degrade rapidly. If you think you’ll be hunting with a slingshot, you better learn to use a sling, or an arrow thrower too. gahh.]
Soap: Cleanliness will be paramount as basic societal conditions decline. [no it won’t] While you can make your own bar soap, make sure you have enough soap of all kinds, like soap flakes for laundry [just shredded bar soap], or ammonia, to keep up with the cleaning demands. Cleanliness is one of the most important things to pay attention to. [no, not really, water, food, and security rank a lot higher.]
Socks:… [already covered under clothes and shoes]
Sundried tomatoes: …..
[OMFG. SO NOT survival.]
Stainless steel buckets, milk pails, etc.: Stainless steel will almost last forever. Buckets and milk pails are easy to disinfect and clean, too. Forget plastic in the home—it degrades and becomes increasingly difficult to keep sterile and clean.
[WTF? NOT SURVIVAL!!! Hobby farmer!]
Tea tree oil: Due to its long shelf life (indefinite) and ability to assist with wound healing and disinfection, tea tree oil is an essential item to have in your medicine cabinet. It can be used alone or added to other skin preparations.
[what is with this guy? get some AB cream!]
Heirloom seeds: Why heirloom seeds? Because you’ll be able to save the seed year-after-year for continued harvests. GMO and hybridized seeds won’t produce viable offspring, and many times the resulting seed won’t even germinate. A good heirloom-based seed bank is paramount.
[ok, long term. Define “good” though.]
Tobacco seeds: Growing tobacco for trade will give you an edge, and it has uses as a plant for making repellants in the garden for problems such as aphids, borers, rodents, and more.
[I’ll let RBT address this, since he’s gonna do the experiment, but NS! I’ll note that production of tobacco historically needed a lot of workers, and takes them away from food production.]
Seed-starting supplies: … [nice, not critical]
Vitamin C: …for scurvy prevention.
[Just about any dark green veg has this, as well as tomatoes, citrus, etc. in other words, unless you are in a cave eating hard tack you probably don’t need to worry about scurvy. Long term, stock a couple of jars of multivitamins. That will address any other deficiencies you have too.]
Alternate energy sources: Electricity and natural gas may not be available from the utility company during a bad situation. [ MAY NOT?????] Think about how else to heat the house (such as a wood stove) and provide electrical power (e.g. windmill, solar panels).
[long term you are back to the traditional sources, heat, muscle, wind, water, chemical. Make sure you can utilize them.]
Animals: The amount of wild game available will likely dwindle with time.
[there will be NONE in most of the likely SHTF scenarios, see any account from WWI or WWII or Selco about cities or countryside during wartime, nor will there be any dogs or cats.]
Having livestock such as sheep and goats will enable you to sustain yourself with meat, milk and fiber. Not everyone has the room for animals on their property, but if you can, do it.
[almost no one has room, or knowledge, better to raise chickens or rabbits if this is a concern for you.]
So much fail in a single list. Oh, it might have been ok if the list was titled “50 things you might have forgotten, and would be nice to have if SHTF” but it was titled SURVIVAL.
The list is more telling about the person who wrote it, than a guide for essentials. NOT ONE mention of defense against hostile people or animals. Lots of airy fairy new age-y items. Several items that evoke a hobby farm or gentleman farmer lifestyle. An emphasis on comfort and continuing a modern lifestyle. This author is not gonna make it through a TEOTWAWKI event. He clearly hasn’t considered it from an urban or even suburban perspective, nor does he sound willing to make hard choices.
Part of his problem is that you have short- and long- term survival and the problems and needs are different. Worst case is a short term event that results in a long term situation, like a plague that kills a large percentage of the population, or a surprise attack that results in a technological collapse. First you have to survive the event, then you have to find a way to live in the aftermath. Different skills, different stuff. It also helps to define the requirements by deciding what your goals are. Do you want to just survive for a period of time until outside help arrives or rebuild a society?
Your answers are going to shape your preps. In the mean time, use his list as a nudge about some things you may have forgotten about, but other than water, food, and salt, there’s not much here that will help you survive.