The Simple Things, by The Watchman

So you think you have this prepping thing pretty much down pat by now? Or are you new to this world of prepping? You have your water filters, generators, fuel, guns, ammo, food stores, medical supplies, a bug out vehicle, and heating elements. You have researched, taken courses, practiced drills and you have completed a mock bug out. If you said “yes” to any of this small list, you are already off to a good start. But sometimes we overlook the simple things we need in order to get by day to day.

List of Essential Things

One of the things I have done in my own life is to do a daily, weekly, and monthly list of all the essential things I use on a regular basis. I was surprised with the results, and it made me switch gears on some of my preparations. I would like to highlight a few of these for all of you. It might make the gears in your head turn as well. I have made this list based on a total collapse long-term scenario.

Prescription Glasses

The first thing I do every morning when I wake up besides cursing my alarm clock is to put on my glasses. I wear contacts when I am in public, due to the ability to wear sunglasses with them. However, when I am at home I wear my glasses. This got me thinking that obviously I would run out of contact lenses at some point in a catastrophic scenario, but my glasses are absolutely essential. Where would I get new glasses in a collapse scenario? Are the ones I am wearing durable enough to handle the daily rigors of living like a pioneer. Without my glasses I would be quite useless. I immediately put at least two extra pairs of durable, updated prescription glasses on my list of essential purchases.

Things for Shave and Shower

The next thing I do is shave and shower. This led to a whole slew of things I might need daily or weekly. Do I have enough soap and shampoo? Is my solar shower sufficient? I have used it outdoors while deer hunting in Wisconsin in November, and I will tell you it was better than freezing water but nowhere near what I was used to. (I would leave it to warm up in the sun all day on top of my truck and by end of day, given that the outside temperatures were in the twenties and thirties, it ended up being just a touch above lukewarm.)

Do I have enough razors and shaving cream to keep my face looking halfway decent? Does my girlfriend have enough razors and cream to not end up looking like Sasquatch? Does she have a sufficient supply of feminine products? A shortage of any of these items would definitely be catastrophic scenarios within themselves!


My next step in my morning is brushing my teeth and gargling Listerine. Add toothbrushes and toothpaste to the list. I would add maybe a small dentist cleaning kit along with some basic dental literature.


The important thing I have already stocked up on though is Listerine– the gold colored one that doesn’t taste so great. Listerine is a miracle substance in my opinion. I have used this for so many different ailments successfully that I now openly recommend it to people on a regular basis. A brief history of Listerine is that it was originally developed as a pre-surgery antiseptic. They found that it had excellent dental health qualities and marketed it into the product you see at stores today. Not to get too personal, but the ailments I have used Listerine to cure is just short of amazing!! Growing up I had acne on my legs. It was very painful, hard, itchy acne.

I tried everything from antibiotics (which worked for a short period of time) to topical creams, which almost never worked. It was in my early twenties (I am in my 30s currently) when I had had enough. I sat down and scoured the depths of hell on the Internet to maybe find one person who had suffered like I had. After hours of searching, I came across a post that said a guy had gotten rid of his acne by swabbing the affected areas twice a day with Listerine (flavor doesn’t matter.

He said it was gone in a week and hadn’t returned for years. I tried this and it worked! Since then I have gone on to use this for athletes’ foot and jock itch. I have used it to clean wounds. The uses could be endless. I am sorry for getting too personal, but it really is an amazing substance!

Getting Dressed

The next part of my day is getting dressed. This should be a no-brainer when it comes to your preparations. However, I can imagine it is quite overlooked. I know for myself that socks and underwear do not have a very long life. These are things we definitely would have a hard time tracking down, and I definitely don’t want any hand me downs in this department. I am sure your significant other, if applicable, wouldn’t want hand me downs either. Add these to the list. Do I have enough extra jeans, shirts, sweatshirts, et cetera? Footwear should be very high on your list of things that would be hard to find in a total collapse scenario. Consider the proper footwear for your activities, weather, and geography that would be essential to survival. Do you have extra?

Prepare Beyond the Normal Items

I think you get the point of this article. It will send you down a rabbit hole and hopefully help you to prepare beyond the normal items most people prep for. Creating a daily list of things that make your world go round and then fine tuning it into your preparations could be an invaluable tool to living just a bit more comfortably in a total collapse scenario. Thanks for reading and carry on.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I tend to think that it will be the “things” that we don’t use day-to-day that will be our Achilles Heel during SHTF. I live by the greatest, most simple and probably oldest logistics lesson out there- the old nursery rhythm called “For the want of a horse shoe nail”. This is a great lesson on how simple small things can have BIG impacts. So what are your “Horse shoe nails”? A fuse? A spare spark plug? A can opener? An extra Axe handle? And remember one is none.

  2. Another possible solution to the prescription glasses issue is eye surgery. I just went down that path recently and can’t recommend it enough. The initial cost is somewhat high to go to a reputable surgeon (it’s your eyes though, don’t go cheap) but compared to the cost of 50 years of glasses I won’t have to buy it’s not so bad.

    The results are what’s most important though. 20/20 vision without having to worry about running out of contacts or glasses breaking is an excellent prep in my opinion, not to mention the same benefit applies in pre-SHTF as well.

    1. I absolutely agree, and I had Lasik eye surgery over 20 years ago when it was a new procedure and considered the “latest and greatest” option. My prescription was very strong, and I was looking forward to throwing away glasses and contacts forever.

      However … (and this is something many people do not realize) my vision changed after I had children. I had to get glasses/contacts again. The prescription is much lower than it was before my eye surgery, so I did receive a benefit from it, but it was not a cure-all for me. The doctor also told me that many people will still need reading glasses after vision correction. I hope I am not one of those people, and I have been OK so far.

      Yes, I would still recommend the surgery. I know it does result in 20/20 for a lot of people. Just be aware that you may not achieve 20/20, or you may not keep 20/20 forever, or you may need reading glasses later.

      1. I agree with having eye surgery.

        I had LASIK in early 2001. This resulted in 20/20 for almost ten years. In the end of 2010, I had a job physical that noted just under 20/02 in both eyes due to natural deterioration of eyes with aging. My prescriptions since then have been very low powered.

        I have budgeted for another eye surgery later this year (or early 2019) as both the technology is better (allowing for further correction after having had one surgery) and there are MORE types of eye corrections that can be done. Some persons who have thought or been told they were not candidates for eye surgery/correction may need to check again…

        Just like one of the commenters said, they are YOUR eyes, don’t settle for a Sunday-paper coupon to decide what correction you should get! Shop around. I live near a large metro area and have several excellent choices for doctors and surgery centers for eyes.

        I would get with a doctor who is highly rated for your the types of correction/surgery you are considering; then check that doctor for lawsuits, their results/re-corrections (these statistics are required to be reported on many states to a state level entity and are considered public records); then go for several consultations…many doctors will give ‘free’ or fixed cost consults that will then apply the funds to the surgery.

        Shop around…I am not in the medical profession so your mileage may vary. I am only speaking from my personal experience.

    2. Hey Paul. Couldn’t agree more. Being retired, when I developed cataracts picked a good eye surgeon. Before the operation my vision was 20/500 (coke bottles) and I couldn’t see squat without my glasses. After the operation the surgeon apologized because he could only get my vision to 20/40! By the way, the operation was a piece of cake (out patient and quick recovery).

      1. Yup. Mine was 20/400 with astigmatism. Lasik was best thing I ever did for myself. They came out 20/15 but since it’s been over 10 years ago I now have 20/40. But you can see the clock in the morning. And go outside when it’s raining and not have to wipe your specs.

    3. This is a challenging one. I have dual astigmatism –sp? but continue to test out at 20/15 on the wall chart. I also cannot see my fingerprints when trying to pull a splinter out.

      Having my eyes cut would expose me to more risk than just keeping all the old glasses in a bin for emergencies.

  3. Great subject! I have spent a great deal of time thinking on this same subject. Good to see an article on it. Don’t want this to be to long, but here are some of the things I would like to share. I am diabetic. One of the things I save are the test strip containers. They lock securely and are waterproof. Great storage for many small items. Same for plastic script bottles, though not as secure. Also insulin needles. Many uses besides injections (fill them with oil for precise lubrication). Rubber bands..think about how many times you use them. Old used up lighters..break them down and save the flints. Got a great little gadget off Amazon that holds flints and has a striker wheel. Makes fire starting easy.
    Two last items. The first-a friend turned me on to Pinterest. Talk about going down the rabbit hole. Be is addictive and contains a ton of useful info. Can’t believe it took me so long to check it out. All I did to start was type in “preparedness” and I was off to the races. The second-the local $1 store. It also has become a regular stop for me. Just play up and down the aisles. You’ll be surprised at what you find, and let’s face it, the price is right.
    Thanks for the article and looking forward to a ton of responses.

    1. Rubber bands do not keep well in ordinary storage. The rubber oxidizes, you put the rubber band around something, and snap! It goes flying across the room.

      I would try putting it into a snug container with a few oxygen absorbers, or in vaccuum seal packets.

      I have not tried this, but will, considering that sometimes a dozen is none.

      Not a single rubber band had survived being stored in my desk drawer for a few years.

    2. Not all dollar store items are a value at a buck. Do some comparison shopping to see where the best deals are. If money is more valuable than a little time in your life, as it is with most of us, there are lots of bargains to be found.

  4. What i like about this article is that these are all practical items that you will use even if there is never an emergency. That’s financially smart. On another note, I think I should buy a pair of prescription sunglasses. I’m like you, in terms of usually wearing contacts when away from home. I have two pairs of glasses, but no prescription sunglasses. Again, that’s something I would use now and not just in an emergency, but in an emergency, they might really make a difference in my comfort level. Thanks for the article!

    1. Make sure your prescription sunglasses are enjoyable to wear. I purchased my first script sunglasses a few months ago, and after the three weeks required to get used to them, I retired my near-identical ‘smoke’ tinted non-script sunglasses to a prep stash.

      Actually seeing and blocking the sun’s glare has been tremendous.

  5. Thanks for the tip on Listerine. Dental floss tape (multiple uses) and picks, as the last thing anyone needs during SHTF is bad teeth. Polarized eyeglasses would help.
    Plant a lot and I mean a lot of Mullein plants for it’s leaves for when the toilet paper runs out. (There’s a reason in parts of the world why the left hand is never used to shake with. Fist bump or better, just nod your head. Perhaps we’re due for a SHTF Etiquette Manual, ie. Shoot first, ask questions later, How not to Smile if you have Gold Teeth, etc.,. ).

  6. Over the years I have saved all of my old glasses, I too would be quite useless without them. Every year I get new ones free from the VA and from work. Clean the old ones, put them back in their case and put the date on the case. I keep an extra pair in the car and truck, bug out bag, and the shop. The oldest go in a box. Might make great barter items.

    1. Sarge, if I may, another suggested enhancement to your goggle collection.

      Pick the most ‘standard’ looking glasses and go to a cheap glasses place and get current script glass for your older glasses. NOW they are a legit backup, and not some 15-year old prescription you can barely see through.

  7. Speaking of glasses, if you don’t use reading glasses now, you likely will in your 40s and after.

    Stock up on several pairs of each strength at the $1 store. Even if no one in your family ends up needing them, they are great barter items.

  8. Our dollar tree store had the store brand of listerine. It is made from the same ingredients. Bandaids and first aid items can be found there too. Something as simple as fingernail clippers would be good to have on hand as well as hand lotion. Leather gloves could save you a lot of pain. We take so many things fot granted .

    1. Great comment about the gloves, I travel from r work a lot and often end up handling a large amount of airlift cargo along with my normal tasks. So I always pack a good set of gloves and boots with my hand carried luggage. I us d to have a boss that drilled into our heads that it was immensely easier to prevent and injury than to treat one.

  9. Listerine is amazing – my dad swore by it. Listerine is the best cure for a sore throat that I know. I’ve tried all the others (salt water, throat spray, etc.) but Listerine kills the bacteria. Gargle with that and it will be a few hours before your throat is sore again – when it starts to hurt again go gargle. My dad, like you, used it for many, many different things. It tastes terrible but it does work.

  10. I haven’t progressed that much I guess. I have never used Listerine or any mouth wash, don’t care to shave, I can skip a shower for a day or a week or longer, brush my teeth once a day and don’t like toothpaste. This all seems like much ado about nothing.

    1. I read somewhere that research had shown that brushing with a dry toothbrush worked just as well as using toothpaste.

      So I stopped using toothpaste. A couple years later, I went to the dentist. He showed me the xrays. Lots of cavities. It was an expensive fix.

      Now I always use toothpaste. Yes, with flouride. I just spit it out afterwards. Cavities are expensive to fix now, but post disaster, the price to your mouth and health is much higher.

      1. I haven’t had a cavity in 10-20 years, can’t even remember when. I just don’t like the taste of peppermint in my mouth at bedtime. When I was a kid we couldn’t afford toothpaste so we used baking soda and sometimes salt. I never used shampoo until I was 18, just soap. I’m thinking some of this depends on what you became accustomed to.

    2. We have used Listerine, or it’s store band likeness, for many things. When my grandson had an ear ache, we put a few drops in his ear and then he went on to sleep. The next morning, and for the next few weeks, no more complaints with his ears. Then it started hurting again. This time we used vinegar and alcohol drops to dry it up, then let it drain and used listerine again. Turns our, he was getting swimmers ear from playing so long in the tub.

      Have also used it to disinfect small scrapes, bug bites, and small cuts. It may burn a little at first, but seems to heal up faster. Actually, years ago an old friend of the family told us to use bleach for small cuts and it will take the sting away…..he was right. We still do this.

      I also use listerine to sanitize my CPAP water tank between cleanings. And the fresh smell is wonderful as I go to sleep.

  11. Another thing no one thinks about; keeping up with your medical/dental preventative medicine. I consider staying ahead of my dental work part of my prep. The same goes for things like immunizations. Remember; the day after TEOTWAWKI will be like a dead-stick landing in an airplane; you’ll be stuck with whatever “altitude” you had when the engine died!

  12. One area many people overlook is effects of dirt on glasses and optics. Your glasses and all things optic need special cleaning fluids and wipes. All of us who deployed to dirtistan, and actually went outside the gates, experienced goggles and glasses(plastic lenses)that were so scratched in a few months they became useless.

    Predeployment briefings told us contact lenses were prohibited. Despite my focused attention to keep my hands clean before touching my eyes, I still suffered 4 bouts of very painful and capability-degrading pinkeye. Both using and not using my prohibited contact lenses.

    So have plenty of eye care products in your stockpile. Keep those special optics wipes with your vision equipment.

    God Bless.

    1. For Costco shoppers, they have a box of individual wipes for optics/glasses – 200+ count. Hubs uses them frequently and we are buying another box to stockpile.

  13. Listerine Side Note:

    A story regarding Listerine since it has been mentioned a few times. A while back, walking the beach at D*ytona, Florida, I noticed plastic bottles of Listerine littered across the sands by the seawall. A friend said there was a sale of mouthwash at a convenience store across A1A and the homeless who live under the seawall in tunnels, drink it for it’s alcohol content.
    Therefore: Any mouthwash doubles as a “Comfort Barter Item”.

    A salt gargle works well. Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar can never be mentioned enough for hygiene and multiple other uses. Lard and tallow make soap.

    ps. Yes, I now have second thoughts about walking the beach at night, formerly the home of Aileen Wuornos.

    1. * If the SHTF will resemble H.G. Well’s “Time Machine”, then always check all abandoned mouthwash bottles for any attached fishing line.

    2. Not all mouthwash–most do NOT have alcohol in them. The gold Listerine is one of the few that still does. So if you are getting for dual purposes, be sure to check the ingredients–

  14. Amazing we didn’t become extinct before the invention of the razor.

    While I can appreciate the basic needs, especially when technology makes it easy, a number of things above sound like “but where would we be without antipersperant!”.

    One can become rich either by increasing wealth or by decreasing wants.

    Even those with families (that doesn’t sound like the poster) know the provider must sacrifice things for the wife and children.

    We would be better off if we could live with far less – our ancestors did including those in 1776.

  15. To those of you considering lasik surgery, be aware that as you get older you will need reading glasses to see up close. I have chosen to stock up on contacts and glasses for distance vision, and can still see up close without them.

  16. Need reading glasses? On a killer budget? Me too. I collected a shoebox of reading glasses from the dollar store (“Tree”) that suit me fine….and a few others as well, I hope. This barracuda shopper even found a closeout sale on Foster Grants WITH cases for about a dollar a pair. Would rather have Rx ones, but these serve the purpose better than you might think.

  17. Lasik was the best thing I ever did in terms of my outdoor activities, binocular use, no frosty or steamed lenses…went from 20/400 to 20/15. Then in the intervening 15 years vision has moved to 20/20 right eye and 20/25 left eye. Doc says I need a touch up—however, I still use cheap readers as needed, depending upon print size.

  18. Lasik isn’t the only option. When my doctor did my left cataract, he inserted an intra-oscular lens. I will have 20/20 until my eyeball changes. It was a mind blowing experience, being super nearsighted all of my life. My right eye dominance also changed over to the left eye. I guess your brain picks out the better sight! (I wear a contact on the right eye.) You will need readers though, so stock up at DollarTree-etc.
    Toothbrushes, toothbrushes, and toothpaste-or know how to make the equal. Nothing is worse than a toothache with no dentist around!

  19. Another thing I’ve discovered is the ASAP silver solution sold on several of the prepping websites. Although people calm all sorts of remedies, the one thing our family uses it for ( 4 small kids ) is when any of the kids are showing signs of getting pink eye we immediately start applying compresses soaked with the silver solution to their eyes. I tried it on myself first and it immediately helped with the discomfort and seemed to help draw out the puss/infection from the eye.

  20. For those of you who wear glasses and would like sunglasses, CVS and several other drugstores carry large nonprescription sunglasses which you can wear over your regular glasses. I’ve been doing this for years and they work great. If you can’t determine which ones they are in the sunglasses display, ask the pharmacist. Mine were about $25 several years ago, but since they work great even when my glasses prescription is changed, it’s been worth it.

    1. Regarding pink eye….I know it sounds gross, but if you can catch the urine of the infected person, put a couple of drops into the eyes, it will clear up quickly. Sometimes it even clears up over night. Your own body bacteria fights the infection. This was what my grandmother did, and what my mother did, and what I did when my children were growing up. Also, the ammonia in urine will help the sting of a jelly fish. We aren’t too near a beach, but I thought I’d pass that along, too.

  21. I had LASIK in 1999 using the VISX S2 equipment. I am generally satisfied with my outcome though my vision has deteriorated slightly over time to between 20/25 and 20/30. My night vision was significantly degraded though with a halo effect around lights. When my pupils dilate beyond the corrected zone, I see a halo effect, particularly noticeable around point source lights such as LEDs. The larger your pupils, the more pronounced the halo effect will be if your pupils dilate beyond the corrected zone (typically 5 mm diameter using the VISX S2).

  22. We too have used colodial silvet for pink eye. 3 of my daughters have had success with putting drops in their eyes. My one daughter just used this on her 6 year old. It was going around in her classroom. Cleared it right up.

  23. My personal revelation on value hunting.

    Walmart and Target have low-visibility end caps where they dump stuff they are disposing of.

    My Target finds:

    1. Coleman brand ruggedized compasses for hiking packs ($2.94 each)
    2. Coleman brand 6-man camping tent ($13.94) – Wifey found this one for us. 6-years later it still keeps the water out. The tent pegs were junk, but at the price and overall quality, we replaced those cheap enough.

    Walmart find (new to this discovery)
    1. Ranch hand work gloves. Sized Large only ($1.88 each) I picked up five sets for use around the homestead.

    Not exactly sure how you locate which endcaps have the disposal stuff, I’m sure there’s a web site for it, but hitting it when you go to walmart/target/safeway/albertsons/etc can produce unexpected valuable discoveries.

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