Along with the basic requirements like food, water, and medicine, there are a variety of items that while aren’t crucial to survival, sure will make life easier during a crisis.
Paper plates, cups, and bowls: Odds are pretty good that you’ll need to watch your water consumption and ration it appropriately. Negating the need to wash dishes every day will help in that regard. When meals are finished, the paper plates and such can just be added to your fireplace or wood stove. For that reason, I’d avoid stocking up on the thicker foam type items though and stick to paper goods. While you could add plastic utensils as well, it really doesn’t take much water at all to wash silverware. You could probably wash an entire meal’s worth of utensils with not much more than a cup of water. Of course, this is something more for short term emergencies like an extended power outage. I’m not advising you to try and stock up on enough paper plates to last you a year or more. Be sure to watch for sales on these items as their regular price is often ridiculously expensive. Locally, the best sale price I’ve been able to find is $0.99 for a pack of 72 paper plates. See if you can do better.
Paper towels: The same water conservation principle applies here. While I’d prefer using a cloth towel for most things, and thus perhaps saving a tree here and there, in an extended emergency you’ll not want piles of soiled dish towels lying around for days on end. Again, the used paper towels can be burned.
Toilet paper: Need I say more? There are many alternatives you can use in a pinch, but let’s face it, most of ‘em suck. Strive for at least a full month’s worth of toilet paper on hand at all times.
Cleaning products: While most homes likely already have at least a small supply of these items, it isn’t a bad idea at all to have a stash set aside, just in case. If the emergency is such that you and your family are basically confined to your home for several days, keeping things clean will not only be a morale boost but help to reduce the possibility of spreading germs. There’s no need to go out and buy a couple cases of Windex to set on the floor of your pantry though. In fact, just a bottle of vinegar will go a long way toward killing germs.
Hand sanitizer: If the water isn’t running from the taps, having a bottle of this in or near the bathroom will allow you and your family to wash their hands after using the facilities.
Baby wipes: A cleaner you is a happier you. In the absence of baths or showers, these wipes can at least get a layer of grime off. Of course, they’ll work for toilet paper as well.
Diapers, diaper cream, etc.: If you have a baby in the family, or are expecting one soon, stock up on extras of these sorts of items and set them aside for when they may be needed. Be sure to rotate out the diapers as the child grows and replace with the larger sizes.
Garbage bags: These have many uses, from makeshift rain ponchos to toilet liners. Try to have at least an extra box or two on hand.
As always, watch your sale ads and pick up extras of these items when the price is right. Don’t feel you need to go out and buy them all at once, unless you recently won a lottery have a pocketful of cash you are looking to burn. (And if that’s the case, don’t forget your Uncle Jim here, LOL!)
Your assignments this week:
1) Add these items to your perpetual shopping list and pick them up as you can. Set them aside for when you’ll need them. Most of these items really don’t have expiration dates and will keep for quite a long time if stored in a cool, dry place.
2) Add at least five gallons to your water storage this week.