If you are a regular SurvivalBlog reader, the odds are that you already have the majority of your key logistics squared away, like food storage, tools, guns, communications gear. So now it is time to stock up on “soft” and perishable items. These include over the counter medications, vitamins, chemical light sticks, matches, paper products, cleansers, spices, liquid fuels, and so forth.
You need to exercise caution when stockpiling soft items, for several reasons:
1.) Shelf Life and Deterioration. Some items like pharmaceuticals, batteries, and chemical light sticks are best stored in a refrigerator. Keep in mind that items like matches are vulnerable to humidity. (BTW, do not store matches in Mason type glass jars! Resist the urge, or else you’ll inadvertently make a glass shrapnel bomb! Instead, use a vacuum sealer, such as the Tilia FoodSaver sealers sold by Ready Made Resources. This is also a great way to keep rubber bands (including elastrator bands) from deteriorating. Exposure to sunlight, or heat, or moisture can all be deleterious to soft goods.
2.) Bulkiness. Paper products like paper towels, toilet paper, and paper napkins are extremely bulky, per dollar value. If you have limited storage space then you will need to budget that space carefully.
3.) Flammability. You should think of your stored paper products as house fire tinder, and your stored liquid fuels as potential fire accelerants and explosives. One mistake that that I’ve heard mentioned is storing numerous gasoline cans at home, in an attached garage. Most garages have a hot water heater, often fired by natural gas or propane. Uh oh! Store gas cans, oil-based paint cans, and bulk lubricants only in a well-ventilated outbuilding that is well-removed from your residence. Be sure to check your state and local fire code for permissible limits.
4.) OPSEC risk. The aforementioned bulk of stored paper products also makes them obtrusive to casual observers. This present s an OPSEC risk. If you have 500 rolls of toilet paper and paper towels in your garage, someone is likely to notice. OBTW, one item that I’ve stored as a potential barter item is sheet plywood. Those extra plywood sheets, if properly positioned can keep prying eyes away from your stockpiles.
5.) Abundance-Inspired Waste. Human nature dictates that when something is scarce, it is used frugally, but when it is abundant, it tends to get used more wastefully. I’ve seen this happen with my children, in target practice with .22 rimfire ammunition. If they know that they have just 50 rounds apiece available for a shooting session, they make every shot count. But if there is a full “brick” of ammo sitting there, it soon starts to sound like a day at Knob Creek.
In his book The Alpha Strategy, John Pugsley mentioned some friends that “invested” in stocking their own home wine cellar. They determined that it would be less expensive to buy wine by the case. But they soon had so much wine that they got in the habit of having a bottle with dinner almost every evening. So even though the per-bottle cost decreased, their monthly expense on wine actually doubled! OBTW Pugsley’s The Alpha Strategy is highly recommended. It is available for free download, but I recommend also picking up a used copy, for reference. They are often available through Amazon.com for less than $5.