(Continued from Part 1, posted on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.)
With the many disaster and TEOTWAWKI scenarios, we can’t be 100% sure of everything that we will need in a post-event life. But the goal is to be as close to that 100% as possible. Another good saying to apply to prepping is that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Having a diverse on-hand stock of sundries can allow us to improvise and adapt those items to what we need. When at the hardware store I like to go down the aisles and look at items and think if they have a potential use for survival. This is a great way to exercise your mind in some outside-the-box thinking. Some of the more interesting items that come to mind that I have picked up and stocked for TEOTWAWKI are pipe hanger tape in both metal and plastic. This stuff is very versatile and inexpensive. PVC pipe and fittings are also very useful for applications besides plumbing. Rolled aluminum and copper flashing in various widths is also something that can have numerous uses outside of its normally intended purpose. Flexseal is also great and comes in different applications from spray can, tube and tape forms. Again, the applications are endless.
My Own Hardware Store
My ultimate goal is to have my own “hardware store”. This way, if something breaks, I need to fabricate something or I lose a nut or bolt, I don’t have to run into town to the hardware store to get supplies. Obviously, this means acquiring and storing a lot of stuff. We literally have large totes full of various types and lengths of rope and cordage as well as spools of para-cord and other cordage. Boxes of wire/cable and as well as cable clamps and ferrules, thimbles, shackles, and hooks.
Nothing irritates me more than working on a project and needing something and having to stop and go into town to get it. My nephew was helping install a propane gas line at the BOL and he ended up needing a few parts that he had not picked up when getting the black pipe for the project. Into my stores I went and I had 4 of the 5 items he was looking for. But we had to waste an hour and a half just in travel to pick up a bushing. That was in “normal” times with modern conveniences. That same trip into town post-TEOTWAWKI might not be possible. When we got there, I picked up replacements for the items that I used and of course several bushings in different sizes. If you need it once, then there is a good chance you will need it again.
Another category of sundries that is very often over-looked by preppers is lab equipment and supplies. When you consider it was the home laboratory of people like Edison, Carver and a slew of other American inventors we should not discount the application of basic chemistry as a useful survival category. In order to apply chemistry to survival does take some special knowledge, equipment and supplies. Before you discount this as not relevant to post-TEOTWAWKI, think about making bio-diesel, ethyl alcohol or moonshine, essential oils, white wash, et cetera. These all are basically chemistry. Having on hand stocks of some basic chemistry lab glassware, clamps, stands, raw chemicals and of course personal protective gear can provide a homemade replacement when you can’t run down to the store and just pick it up. The back wall of my barn/workshop has a small lab set up with glassware, chemicals and a microscope. This also is a great place to teach my kids some basic survival chemistry and biology, as well.
Sundries however are not just hardware and replacement parts. Other important survival sundries include standard household things such as clothes pins and line, sewing supplies for not only making and repairing clothes but also sewing leather and canvas. Wicks for candle making, replacements for oil lamps and kerosene heaters, replacement lamp mantels, glass globes, batteries, bulbs for lighting, aluminum foil, Ziplock bags, duct tape, glues, epoxies, garden supplies, canning jar lids, wax, pencils, hacksaw blades, razor blades, wire, cable, chain, hardware cloth, work gloves, grommets, rivets, tarps, webbing, matches, all types of brushes, bicycle repair parts, spare handles and wedges for axes/hammer, pest control, and many other items.
A Certain Place and a Clear Label
Part of putting together your sundries for survival is being able to find them quickly when needed. Being organized is very important. One of the forms of organization that I use is pegboard in my workshop. This allows me to quickly locate and grab and item as well as look to see how many I have remaining. I also use plastic totes of various sizes. On the shelf below my work bench I place 6-quart clear plastic totes full of supplies of different types like garden hose repair and accessories, nylon and/or polypropylene bulkhead fittings, barb fittings, reducer bushings, plugs, et cetera.
For smaller parts/items I also use multi-drawer small parts organizers. One might have DC electrical parts/accessories such as blade fuses, alligator clips of various sizes, and battery clamps. One has odd hardware such as steel rings, “U” clamps and such. I also recycled large plastic containers that held pretzels or nuts and use them to store different grades of steel wood, cheese cloth, pipe clamps, corks, and other items that are too large for the parts organizer but not big enough to put in a tote. Something else to consider is not placing your entire stores of something all in one place if you can. I try to keep a smaller inventory of various items in my basement workshop so if something happens to the barn, I still have some items on hand, just not as many.
Beside organizing these sundries by place, I also label as many of the compartments and containers as I can. This helps when I send my son, daughter or wife into the workshop to get something and they can quickly see where it is at. I use a Brother label maker that allows me to use up to one-inch wide label tape in various colors. I don’t have the easiest to read handwriting, so printed labels are much easier to read and they don’t fade out like marker on masking tape.
There are a few books that need mention on hardware and tools for survival. The first is Tools For Survival by James Wesley, Rawles. This is a great partner to his book How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It. Also, on one of my several trips to Lowes I found a book entitled The All New Illustrated Guide to Everything Sold in Hardware Stores. I found this book a great reference book. My 12-year-old son also was very interested in the knowledge that was contained int the book. The Pocket Reference Book by Thomas Glover is also a very good resource on several topics with survival/homesteading relevancy and I keep three copies around for quick reference.
Attempting to be prepared for TEOTWAWKI can be trying on the family finances but if you use a budget that includes funds for prepping and look for your needed sundries on sale, clearance, or at venues that sell used, you can over time build a supply of goods that will rival an 1800s dry goods store. Unfortunately, many people including some preppers will plan on relying upon post-TEOTWAWKI “scavenging” to meet their unexpected needs. Scavenging should be a last resort for several reasons. You and/or members of your family or community will have to leave your area of operations (AO) that should provide a much higher level of safety and security than areas outside your AO. The risk of injury increases since you or members of your community may be going through damaged structures and through other debris that could stick, poke, cut or crush. There is also the risk from other people who may not be happy to see you in their AO.
There are many articles, blogs, videos on the subject of scavenging post-TEOTWAWKI. Many of those try to define the difference between looting and scavenging. But what these articles fail to address for the most part, is that in our society we all recognize that when someone dies that their property goes to their family. This is a societal norm, which just so happens to also be ingrained in our laws. Even in a world WROL, their will be the expectation that property will be transferred to one’s heirs. However, with a society that now has families scattered through out the states verses all living in one small tight knit community that process of transferring property may have no way of happening.
So why bring this up? If you are in a rural versus a suburban or urban community there will be more of a chance that there is an extended family in the area that has a rightful claim on property that you may want to “scavenge” or as they will view it: “steal”. The location where we bought our BOL is heavily populated by two extended families. In fact, my neighbor grew up in our BOL home. With that said, are there scenarios such as a pandemic that decimates 50 to 90 per cent of the worlds population that can make “scavenging” more acceptable? Sure, but we must consider that anytime we go into a building that is not ours that we are the criminal in the eyes of the owner or the person who perceives ownership. And scavenging will also take a lot of time with no guarantees of producing what is needed.
Relative Isolation of Your BOL
Another issue has to do with current availability of sundries in our local AO today. If your home, homestead, or bug-0out location (BOL) is 50 miles from the nearest small “mom and pop” store, the chances that you will find what you are needing post-TEOTWAWKI in a 49-mile radius of your home is slim especially as time goes on and the on-hand stocks of sundries that people may have in their homes are used up. Simply put, the less people that are around the less sundries that will be around for barter or “scavenging.” The bigger the population the more stores which will equal more resources available. Will traveling into a larger populated area post-TEOTWAWKI to find sundries either by bartering or “scavenging” be worth the time, expense of resources to get there? And worth the dangers that may be encountered? Also keep in mind if a store is a “mom and pop” business verse a corporate store, mom and pop will also be around and not too keen on being a location you want to “scavenge”. There may be an opportunity to barter. But if you didn’t put a good supply of sundries away did you put barter items away?
I was involved in some local planning for Y2K and got to talk with a few very rural county emergency management coordinators who were very concerned that people from populated areas like Pittsburgh who owned hunting camps in their county would “bugout” and spend Y2K in their county. The issue was that the population of these small rural counties was less than 4,000 normally. Most stores were small “Mom and Pop” types and didn’t keep a lot of inventory around unless it was hunting season when demand was higher. A sudden influx of outsiders in the “off-season” can quickly deplete a small town’s normal level of supplies. Living in rural areas has many positive survival living benefits but deep stocks of manufactured resources is not one of them.
Again, the purpose of this article was not to be a comprehensive list of sundry items. Rather, it is advice to make sure that besides the beans, bullets and Band-aids that we also have a well-thought-out inventory of sundries. Also, that those sundries are organized and stored so when our survival depends on something as simple as a horse shoe nail, we won’t be left wanting.