Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What Do I Store

I have been asked to do a post about the items I store other than food.  I have been struggling a bit with this one.  There are many websites, blogs and videos out there telling about what folks should have in their preps.  A good place to start is researching those for information and ideas.  Many of those sources include things like water storage, tactical gear, options for cooking and heating with wood, etc.  While excellent advice, much of it is not applicable to my living situation.

I have to make decisions based on an arthritic granny living in a three room apartment.  I have no place to store the large barrels of water, so I save soda and juice bottles, wash them out, fill them and store them wherever I have a bit of space - behind my couch and other furniture, behind a door, in the corner of a cupboard.  I keep some empty five gallon buckets that can be filled from my bathtub in a power outage, before my building loses water pressure.  My "Need to Buy" list includes a water filter system to utilize the water from the river located a block away.

This past fall I purchased a good camping stove and a space heater, both fueled with propane.  I buy the small propane canisters as I have no place to keep larger ones.  These fit into boxes with lids that can be stacked, saving space.

I have several flashlights and batteries.  I buy candles whenever I find them on sale and keep a large supply of wooden kitchen matches.  My "Need to Buy" list includes several oil lamps.  I would prefer the old kerosene type lamps, but storing kerosene in an apartment is probably not a good idea.  Another lighting source I am looking into is the solar lights used in outdoor yard or patio decor.  Seems to me these could be used indoors at night and be recharged during the daytime hours.  Same goes for a solar charger for recharging computers, Kindles, cellphones, etc.

I have a basic first-aid kit and add to that items like non-stick bandages, gauze, tape, bandaids, etc.  I also buy antibacterial creams, burn ointments, hand lotions, lip balms, etc.  A couple of my favorites that I have used for years are A & D Ointment and Bag Balm.  Aspirin helps me with arthritis pain so I stock several bottles of that along with multi-vitamins.  I find that prescription drugs are a problem.  Most doctors, including mine, tend to write prescriptions rather than recommending alternatives, and they don't seem to want to write these prescriptions for more than 6 months at a time.  So the next time I have to make an appointment to get my several prescriptions refilled, we are going to have a chat about alternatives, and in the meantime, I am doing my own internet research on herbal medicines.

I have a large picnic basket with a lid that I have filled with sewing supplies - needles, threads, pins, velcro, various kinds of scissors, rotary cutters, etc.   Remember Grandma's button jar?  Got one of those, too.  The time may come where buying a new shirt just because a button fell off the old one will not be an option.  We need to know how to sew and mend and patch.  I also keep darning thread for mending socks.  These old skills could be more valuable than cash at some point.  I buy fabric on sale - all different kinds.  Some are good for clothing, some for quilting, etc.  Fabric is stored in tubs in the back of my closet.  Yarn for making caps, scarves and mittens is stored the same way.

I have a Kindle.  I love my Kindle.  I have several hundred books stored on it.  But I also buy paperback books at garage sales and charity stores.  And when I find information online that will be useful, I print it out and save it in a binder.  I do the same with recipes and instructions for canning and dehydrating.

I often buy a few boxes of canning lids at a time, trying to build up a good supply.  I have found that if I am careful not to damage a lid when removing it from a jar, it can be used once or twice more, so I save all my used lids.  I suppose it would be wise to invest in Tattler reusable canning lids, but right now their price is not within my budget.  I do have four boxes of them in each size and have used them with few problems so I may get more when I have the rest of my "Needs" list filled.

I have a tub of bar soap stored but lately have been looking into stocking the ingredients to make my own.  Same for laundry soap.  I store Borax, Washing Soda and Fels Naptha bars.  Small amounts of these ingredients will make gallons of laundry soap at a fraction of the cost of commercial laundry detergent.

This list could go on forever, but I think this is enough for now.  Each person needs to decide for themselves what is important to store and what is not.  Parents with small children would have items on their lists that I have no need for.  Those who are into bushcraft would have the need for tactical gear, where those of us that find the need for it is not practical for our lifestyles, do not.  However, I can not stress strongly enough the need to be able to defend ourselves, our families and our property.  Even in the best of times, there is a very real possibility that someone with evil intent could break into my apartment.  I refuse to live in fear, cowering behind locked doors, so I have made sure I have the means to stop the criminal before I am hurt or killed.

The surface has just been scratched here, but I hope it will be of some little help.


  1. Great recommendations, Vicki. You are right about needs being individualized and I'm glad you point out the differences of your situation. I learn something from everyone I read, and I appreciate the thought you put into sharing how you prepare. Fern

  2. Thank you, Fern...I believe that many, particularly those of my vintage in a similar situation, sometimes feel overwhelmed in that they think they have to prepare the way others tell them to. I hope I can convey the fact that we all need to prepare, but we also need to do it in a way that works for each of us and not necessarily a way that works for others in different situations or lifestyles. I would love to have your big blue water barrels, but I can't. That's when thinking outside the box helps. I have also learned so much from those I read and I hope I am able to pay back even a fraction of that knowledge here.

  3. Great post Vicki. I, too, love books. In fact, I just got in from shopping at a big box thrift store (Tuesday is their Senior's day)and I scored a new book on herbs and a Reader's Digest book on needle crafts. I also have a few binders of printed recipes and how-to instructions.
    I also chose to shop at thrift stores to stretch my limited budget. I found Tattler canning lids at a local store. And, yes they are pricey but I bought some anyway. Not enough to handle all my canning by any means but having them make me feel a little better prepared.

    Also being in an apartment does dictate how I prepare now. I save water in 1-gallon milk jugs. I've read that these are not ideal containers but they are what I have.
    I am still working on just getting a good stock of what I use on a daily basis - soaps, shampoo, floss, etc. I think I'm good for about 3 months at this point. I'd like to have a deeper reserve as I too feel that 'wolf at the door'. Will close here. Please keep up the good work. Cheering you on. SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  4. Great post Vicki. I try to pick up 1 or 2 boxes of jar lids when I get grocery.
    I also have take daily meds, so 1 day a week I cut 1 pill in half and take 1 half for 2 days and put 1 pill in stock up, when I get a refill I replace stored pills with fresh. I stock up many of the same things.
    Have a great day!


  5. Great recommendations. Preparations are an individual thing. I don't ever plan on bugging out, I do have the means to do so, but to what end? I feel that hunkering in place is a better choice for me, so that is how I prepare. Trust me I have the means and determination to protect and defend what is mine.

  6. You're wise to print out things you find online. I've been meaning to do the same.

  7. vicki,
    to s j in vancouver- watch the shampoo type things in plastic. friend had a lot in storage. the plastic went nasty and she had to throw out lots of it. $$ wasted. possible to transfer to clean glass bottles recycled?

    number one non food prep--toilet paper, can be squashed to take up less room.

    vicki, at SHTF blog there are lists of articles at the bottom of the page--one is survival in an urban apartment. i did not read it but you might glance st it.

    arthritis pain--curcumin. which is concentrated turmeric. also said to delay or stop alzheimer's . curamed capsules are over 50$ for 120 caps. good for joints.
    cayenne said to be good for joints. i eat a lot of it.

    water purification- a friend told me about getting a clean new dehumidifier and using the water from it as we have contamination from fracking which i'm told cannot be filtered out and which only become more concentrated with boiling. it is worth looking into as the water should be pure.

    amazon has a ceramic filter which seems to be less expensive but filters depend on what is in your water.

    i have some tattler lids but have heard of some failures, seem to be mostly in meat canning..haven't used yet. waiting for more feedback from web sources.

  8. SJ...I love thrift stores, too! Not long ago I found a 1962 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I like it because it has so many "from scratch" recipes. Shopping there really does help with my budget, which can use all the help it can get. :)

    About our methods of storing water...Sometimes it is just a matter of doing the best we can with what we have to work with. I would love to buy all the recommended storage containers, but that just isn't going to happen. And I think I add to my preps pretty much the same way you do. If something I need is on sale, I buy several. Even at that, we are miles ahead of those who don't bother to prepare at all and who refuse to acknowledge that wolf who is banging on the door. I would much rather use what is at hand or find other ways of doing things than to be caught flat-footed when there is an emergency.

    And this is me....cheering you on, too!

  9. Sue...I hadn't thought of taking half a pill now and then. I have gone to an every other day schedule with mine after verifying there would be no ill effects. I would really like to get off all prescriptions and go with alternatives and I'm working toward that goal. Like I said, so many doctors just want to write prescriptions rather than offer alternatives. Sometimes I think they are in cahoots with the pharmaceutical companies.

  10. Thanks, Jim...It is my plan to stay put as well. To leave would be a major undertaking and I would not want to leave behind everything I have worked so hard to accumulate. As far as having the means of self-protection...there was a time when some balked at the notion of me arming myself. When I mentioned that the only means of defense I had at the time was to throw a jar of tomatoes at an intruder, the argument became moot. Someone trying to break in to do me harm is someone I don't just want to irritate. I want to stop them. Period.

  11. Gorges...I used to just bookmark things I wanted to save, but then realized that all would be lost if the power went out for any length of time or if for some reason we lost the internet. There is something to be said for good, old fashioned paper copies of important stuff!

  12. Deb...Thank you for all the tips. They are appreciated. You are a wealth of information! I will check out the article on urban apartment survival.

    I had forgotten about the water collected in a dehumidifier. My parents used that water wherever they needed distilled water rather than buying it. Winters here are dry as far as the air goes, but summers are hot and humid. I had been thinking about a dehumidifier before summer rolls around for, even though my apartment is air conditioned, it still can get sticky with the humidity.

    I have used close to 50 Tattler lids. I had a few seal failures - more than with the regular metal lids. That may have been from not backing off a bit on the rings to start with and not tightening them enough when first out of the canner. I don't know. I'm afraid I am just more comfortable using the tried and true metal lids. Old dogs and new tricks, I guess. :)

  13. A few years ago, I was on a prescription. By accident, I refilled it about four days before I was out. My doctor and pharmacy allowed the refill. I then tasked myself with refilling when I still had four days worth of meds. I ended up with a few weeks extra medication by doing this. I don't know how it works in the US these days, but you might give it a try. SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  14. Thanks, SJ...I will give it a try. I would like to get off of all prescriptions and plan to work toward that goal. I just think there must be other ways of dealing with the problems.

  15. vicki,
    what problems?
    for some tincture of honeybee propolis works like statin without side effects.
    other treatments at the survivalist blog.
    there a few herbalists make comments. much to learn.

  16. deb...could you email me? I'd rather not get into health issues here and I would like to know more about herbal treatments. vickimiller63@gmail.com