End of the world: Survival must-haves

Let's talk about the end of the world stock piles. Why? Why not? My new upcoming post-apocalyptic novel, Hear Me Scream, which will be released Spring 2014 (shameless self-promotion) has me in that mind set. This one goes out to all you preppers out there. You might already know most of this stuff, but if you don't know them all, I have a few things I'd like to discuss. Like essentials:
  1. Water:
     It doesn't matter whether you have a pond or a creek nearby or a water tank full to the brim. Find more. Get as many bottles as you can steal find. Storing buckets to collect rain is also a good idea. I think I saw this in 28 Days Later. We can't live without water and so never get too comfortable with the idea that you have enough. Besides, isn't the world running out of fresh water, right now? 

     2. Canned Food:

     I remember having read  Earth Abides and thought, "Will old can foods really be edible fifty years after a collapse?" I don't know, but get that Spam! You might need it. There are certain kinds of canned foods that are better than others, and  will last longer, I'm thinking Tuna. You might want to get canned meats and veggies and fruit, too. 

     3. Water Purification:

     Why? Cholera, Typhoid fever, Malaria, Worms...need I go on?  Fact is, most water is dirty unless its bottled water and if you didn't get enough water bottles and rely on that creek or tank, you're going to need to clean that liquid with tablets, bleach, something.

     4. Seeds:

     Canned foods run out quick. At one point, you're going to have to start growing your own food. There are many ways of storing seeds or using the ones from the last harvest, but you're going to have to be able to seal those babies up. Here's a site if you want to learn more: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/saving-seeds-for-next-season Also, grow foods you like. If you don't like zucchini, why would you grow them just because you can, unless zucchini is the only option, then sorry. It's the end of times, you can't be too choosy, I guess.

     5. Light:

     Firestarters, lanterns, Flashlights with lots of batteries or candles, lots of them. Matches, too. If you don't know how to make a wild fire, you should start learning now or at the very least YouTube it. Cook-outs are going to become popular again--and not just on holidays. Don't coyotes come out at night! Are you afraid of the dark? Maybe not. But the night limits the things you can do in a very uncivilized world. Do you want desperate survivalist or wild animals jumping you in the dark? They might still. This one is a tricky one. Every situation is different depending on the location.Yeah, fires draw attention, but that's just how things go sometimes. Aren't you going to have someone patrolling, anyhow? Send Tom, he looks tough.

     6. Other Foods:

     Salt, sugar, honey, some soft grains, some hard grains, beans, flour, cornmeal, pasta, white rice, dry milk, coffee, tea, dry herbs, dry spices, hard candy...you might want some of this stuff. Think in details. What do you cook with that can be stored for a long time? 

     7. Navigation:

     Maps, a compass. Not your phones either. This one is an obvious one people often forget. You need to know where you're going in the event you end up stuck without a home, or you're trying to get from point A to point B. 

     8. Wear:

     Warm clothes for those extra cold days, blankets, comfortable lasting shoes or hiking boots. You need tough, long lasting clothes because you're going to be wearing the hell out of them.

     9. Mending:

     Sewing kits, to repair clothes. First aid kits, to repair you!

     10. Transportation:

     Do you have horses? A bike? A wagon? Enough gasoline for that truck? Think about the ways of getting to and fro. Sometimes walking is going to be your only option. But it wouldn't hurt to rest your feet every once in a while. Or Tom can run your errands, he's tough. 

     11. Self-defense:

     Sadly, as we all know, when laws are no longer in place, people act crazy. Sometimes its not even a mental issue, but a desperate situation. If a father has no food for his starving kids and little Jimmy has a weird cough, a dad's desperation might lead him to do unthinkable crimes. At the very lest, steal your shit. "Survival of the fittest, ain't that the way?" (Ha! Just quoted my own book.) Here is the short list: Guns, think about ammo, knives, think about the varies kinds for self-defense and butchering meat. Ax, might need to cut wood. Don't forget about Swiss Army knives, some of those bad boys have upgraded and have tons of gadgets in them. If you have limited space, this could be really helpful. 

     12. Books:

     I am a writer, what did you expect? Yet think about it. If you're off the grid, you won't be counting on your Kindle, handy computer, or pleasure reading of any kind. How-to books can be life changers, or you might suddenly need to learn how to make candles or fix something. Natural medicine, there's plenty of books on that. Books on edible plants and such will make your life a lot easier. Teach yourself to be self-sufficient. Start now!

     13. Travel Gear:

     You might be moving from town to town for some reason, think about stuffing a backpack full of essentials needed for the journey. Like sleeping bags, thermal heat, foods, water. Always have a packed backpack somewhere in case you need to leave and leave quick. Don't ever get too comfortable in a single location even if it is your own home. You think you're ruthless and will fight anyone to the death, others are worse and won't hesitate to kill you and your family. Sometimes between fight or flight, flight is the wisest choice. And if you do run, take important stuff with you. Or maybe send Tom out to do your fighting, he looks tough.

     14. You:

     Vitamins, Iron pills, aspirin, glasses, antibiotics, insulin...think about your specific tailored needs. What do you suffer from? What can't you live without? Stock up on that stuff. I wasn't going to mention this thinking most folks would remember to stock up on their medication, but you never know, desperate people tend to forget the most basic of things. Speaking of which...

     14. Personal Hygiene:

     We can do without some of these things, but do we want to? We might not have a choice. If you can get these, get them, if you can't, you don't, but do think about your bathroom routines. Toothpaste, toothbrush, hair comb, Purell, shampoo, lost of toilet paper (or shit in the woods and wipe with leaves), floss, lotion, perfume, razors, deodorant, disposable pads...you know the drill. 

     15. Entertainment:

     Seems trivial, but since the dawn of time men have always needed some type of escape from reality. Assuming the internet is down, right? Don't exert yourself too much if you don't have enough food to replenish the calories burned from certain sports. You could sit around a fire telling jokes and stories, but that will get old, too. Pack playing cards. Those are easy to store. What about board games or novels? Paper? Pens or pencils? Crayons, for the kids. The end of the world can take its toll on anyone's will to live. And it would suck if you stocked up on the other stuff to then leave it all behind for someone else to use because you decided  that life wasn't worth living anymore. You go ahead and off yourself. Tragic end. Some will. Having a few distractions can't hurt. It can lift your morale, or spirits. On the other hand, you can have Tom wrestle bears for your own personal entertainment, he's tough.

 One last note, you might consider raising livestock: chickens, pigs, cows...not always practical, especially if you can't feed them or have anyplace to store them, but if you can keep and nourish them, please do.


  1. Great article. Anyone interested should study the siege of Sarajevo and the effects of not getting in medical/food supplies had on the modern city. There was one man that survived a terrible gunshot wound to the chest to only die months later from a cut gone septic. Putting back a bottle or two of antibiotics is as important as bean and bullets.

    1. Thanks for the reply, Kelly. And good point. Medication is super important, being able to fix yourself. I gave mending the shortest entry even though this is so, so, so crucial.

    2. Good article and a great promotional idea, Ruthy. I wish the Steinbeck poll was still opened...I'd go with Cannery Row. It's one of my five favorite books ever written.

    3. Thanks for the reply, Jeff. And yeah, I totally forgot the poll closed. I reopened it to get more votes.

  2. Loved this article, Ruthy! Not sure I'd want to survive an apocalypse, but if I should, I hope to be better prepped thanks to you.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

End of the World: Out West (free ebook copy of Hear Me Scream)

Watch Me Drown