5 Things You May Not Have Thought of When Planning for an Emergency

29th December 2012

By Gaye Levy

Guest writer for Wake Up World

One of the very first things I did when I adopted what I like to call the “Prepping Lifestyle” is do a walk around inventory. Although I had not consciously considered myself a prepper – and at the time I barely knew what that meant anyway – I discovered that I had a lot of stuff, but that it was woefully disorganized and lacking in many key areas.

I had lots of canned goods, supplemental lighting, off-grid cooking devices, tools and more. But I was sorely lacking in water and first aid items. Go figure.

Over the past couple of years, I have learned a lot, shared a lot and made a number of prepping mistakes. Taking them all in stride – well, not quite, but I try – I can now look back with relief that I have come as far as I have. But as I often say, prepping is a way of life and there is always something new to learn, tasks to do and gear to purchase.

Today I am going to share with you a list of things that you may not have thought of when planning for an emergency, a short term disaster or a SHTF situation where you will be on your own and totally off grid.

5 Things That Will Be Useful if the SHTF

1. Aluminum Foil

A few rolls of aluminum foil will serve you well in an emergency situation. You can use foil to fashion cooking utensils or to line your pots and pans before cooking so that you do not have to waste precious water cleaning up. If you do cook on you pans directly, a crumpled up piece of foil can be used as a handy scrubber to remove the crusties. You can even use foil to create an impromptu Faraday cage.

There are a lot more uses for this handy stuff such as wrapping stones in foil, heating them by the campfire, then using them to heat up your blanket or sleeping bag before going to bed. Once you put a mind to it, you will wonder why you had not thought of including aluminum foil in your survival kit before now.

2. Disposable Eating Utensils

Unless you live near a lake or stream, chances are that water is going to be precious. Even a 55 gallon water barrel or two will only go so far and you will want to reserve that water for drinking and cooking. Paper plates and disposable utensils (forks, knives and spoons) are the answer and will only set you back a few dollars.

3. Laundry Equipment and Supplies

You are going to need to have tools and supplies for hand washing and drying your clothes. Sure, you can wear a shirt and pants for a few days without worry but hopefully the undies and other unmentionables will be clean. And who wants to wear dirty socks?

You are going to need a tub and plunger (don’t discount using a plumber’s helper if that is what you have) or better yet, an old-fashioned washboard. You can fashion a clothes line out of paracord or purchase a dryer rack. But have you thought about clothes pins?

And for washing, how about a bar of Fels Naphtha washing soap? It is light weight, portable, and does not take up a lot of space. As good as my DIY laundry soap works in a machine, when you are the machine, nothing beats a bar of soap for rubbing, scrunching and stain removal.

4. Cooking Grate

Depending on your facilities and the number of mouths to feed, cooking over an open fire may be a real possibility. Even if you are using a rocket stove – either home made, an Ecozoom, Solo Stove or other type – an open fire may still be needed for grilling freshly caught fish or game or for long term simmering if stews and chili’s made with your stored food items.

5. Sanitation supplies

Funny how people forget about the basics. In addition to a supply of TP, how about some old tee-shirts cut up into squares to use “there” when nothing else is available? In addition, you will need some feminine supplies for ladies and diapers for the little ones. And, if the sewer or septic system in inoperable, you are going to need a buckets and some large heavy duty plastic bags to use as a liner so you have some place to do your business.

The Final Word

As you look over this list, it may occur to you that many of these items are already available in your pantry, closet or basement storage area. And if not, none are overly expensive. Even the cooking grate can be improvised from an oven rack or you can purchase one at a second hand store.

The moral of today’s article is that when and if the time comes, it will be comforting to have the basics covered so that you can spend time worrying about the important things such as your safety, security and the health of your loved ones.

For the next few days, why not walk around your home or apartment and seek out items that will be useful in an unconventional manner in an emergency. Add them to this list and of course, share your ideas below in the comments.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Recent Articles By Gaye Levy

About the Author

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com.

At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

You can find Gaye through her website at Backdoor Survival, on the Backdoor Survival Page on Facebook, and as Survival Woman on Twitter.


Wake Up World's latest videos


Join Wake Up World's Ever Evolving Social Communities

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google Plus


  • Tracey

    When the SHTF I doubt if disposable plates and cutlery will be of prime concern.. and it it becuase of a lot of these disposable items that the planet is in such a state.. just before the SHTF I think we should be looking at why we have/had so many disposable items and how we can re-use or recylce them effectively. Also, are you thinking that when the SHTF we shall all become travellers, with the need to move lightly? If so, why don’t we just lighten our load now, in preparation? It’s not just a case of what we need for emergencies, and more a case for what we need to do NOW in order to avert emergencies, in whatever planet, state or part of the world your scenario takes place.

    Interesting article, but I think it misses the key point, downsize now, and think about all the stuff we throw away and buy that is disposable!!

  • Tracey

    “In addition, you will need some feminine supplies for ladies and diapers for the little ones. And, if the sewer or septic system in inoperable, you are going to need a buckets and some large heavy duty plastic bags to use as a liner so you have some place to do your business.”

    Are you serious? Diapers and feminine supplies for ladies? Plastic bags as a liner so you have a place to do your ‘business’. Where are you going to dispose of these diapers, feminine supplies and plastic bags full of people’s ‘business’??

    What kind of emergency are you referring to here? As the Shit really is about to be hitting the fan, and I don’t think these recommendations go any way to seriously tackling ‘needs’ or necessities…

  • James Hartley

    Wonderful advice as ever Gaye

  • Bil Morrissey

    Oh yes , most definately. Why, where would the Native american indians have been without aluminum foil and disposable eating utensils. Oh dear. The only way to prep for survival is to de-prep. If you don’t learn to make do with what is immediatly available at any given time you will never survive.

  • Sharon

    Wow, these comments surprise me. It looks like there are a few people who don’t realize the possibility of needing to “bug in”. Not all catastrophes allow us to “bug out” and to travel, and in the case that I could travel, paper plates would be much easier to travel with than my glass ones. – Make sure all your neighbors know that you won’t accept their paper plates when you run out of water for washing dishes. Preparing for a disaster is no different than having life insurance or home insurance – it may seem unnecessary, and even a waste of money to pay money when there’s no disaster in sight, but in the event of a disaster, it’s critical to have a back-up.

  • Really_Old_Guy

    Soft people NEED their disposables…tough people use what nature has already provided. Soft people are going to have to make a decision one day…either they’ll give up and die when their disposables run dry, or they’ll learn to make do as our ancestors did before us. Learn to carve a spoon and a bowl. Learn to sew clothes from available materials (blankets, deer hide, etc.) when yours wears out. Without “skills” soft people will be powerless to save themselves in a long-term emergency. If you’re going to “stock up” make a tool list (including heavy-duty hand-sewing needles) and gather raw materials. Don’t rely on “made in China” because you’ll let yourself down in the end.