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Emergency Preparedness 101

Aside from personal finance and debt relief stuff, the other topic we’re pretty interested in here at The Frugal Farmer is self-sufficiency.  Even a simple storm can render families unable to access fresh water or food from the grocery store, so preparedness and self-sufficiency isn’t just for the conspiracy theorists.  That being said, with all of the talk about U.S./South Korea/North Korea relations lately, I’ve been reminded of an article I received years ago from a prepper friend.  The article, among other info, contains a list of the top most valuable items that disappeared quickly during the Sarajevo War.   Now, granted, we don’t live in a third world country here, but recent storms like Hurricane Sandy left residents nearly as vulnerable as what these Sarajevo War residents went through.  Here’s what one person had to say about how to prepare when things change quickly where you live:

This is a list of the 100 items that disappeared first during the Sarajevo War.  Remember, this is a country that hosted the Olympic games just a few years earlier in 1984.  In 1990 the whole country started down the short and ugly road to Civil War. 

100 Items to Disappear First

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice – Beans – Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY – note – food
grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won’t heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.)
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk – Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {“Strike Anywhere” preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting – if with wheels)
49. Men’s Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles…Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. “Survival-in-a-Can”
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattresses
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

Notice the many safety/bartering items here.  And, some notes from an actual Sarajevo War Survivor:

Experiencing the horrible things that can happen in a war is no fun: death of family and friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks. 

Here are some additional tips:

1. Stockpiling helps, but you never know how long trouble will last, so locate nearby renewable food sources (**Note from the FF: or create your own. )

2.  Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden

3.  After awhile, even gold/silver can lose its luster.  But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper.  Its surplus value can be greater than gold’s.

4.  If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity – it’s the easiest to do without (unless you’re in a very nice climate with no need for heat).

5.  Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating.  One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy – it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible.  Only needs enought heat to warm, not to cook.

6.  Bring some books, escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues.  Sure, it’s great to have a lot of survival guides, but you’ll figure most of that out on your own anyway – trust me, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands.

7.  The feeling that you’re human can fade pretty fast.  I can’t tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne.  Not much point in fighting if you have to lost your umanity.  These things are morale-builders like nothing else.

8.  Slow burning candles, and matches, matches, matches.

Again, not to get all “conspiracy theorish” on you, but part of the reason we moved to a hobby farm is so that we could learn to be more self-sufficient, for money-saving reasons, for educational reasons, and for preparedness reasons.  Those during the times of our U.S. Civil War had a lot less to worry about in terms of survival than we do because they were already self-sufficient: the lack of “technological advancement” back then forced them to be that way.

Suffice to say that preparedness certainly doesn’t hurt if you don’t go crazy and spend every last penny on war paint and food rations.  Like with anything, a little common sense will do you right. 🙂


  1. Margaret says:

    What a great article Laurie. I especially love what you wrote in the second to last paragraph. Hubby and I talk about this all the time..about how hard it would be for people in our society to survive and thrive should anything happen. We rely so heavily on others that people have lost the ability to do things for themselves…grow their own food, cook for themselves, etc. Love this!!

    Margaret @ Live Like No One Else

    • Laurie says:

      Good to “see” you, Margaret! And you are SO right on with this one: we’ve become way too dependent on others these days. Not good if a serious crisis should come about. 🙁

  2. Jose says:

    I always thought a few boxes of powdered milk was an awesome way to stock up on at least one dairy item. Dry goods are a good choice, most of them are calories dense and since they are “dry” take up less room!

    • Laurie says:

      I have trauma issues from the powdered milk we were force fed as a child, so, none of that yet in the pantry here. :-). I suppose, though, for the sake of the kids, I should buck up and get some.

  3. It doesn’t surprise me all the bartering type items listed as I am sure that would be prevalent in the case of an event. On a side not, I’d be up a creek…I absolutely HATE gravy… I’d be in a world of hurt. 😉

  4. Jim says:

    Great post Laurie, I even printed it out it is so immensely important. Its interesting that you point out that during the civil war, they were better off than we would be in a time of crisis. This is sooo true, we claim to such an advanced society with all our technology, but in reality it just makes us more dependent on the “providers”. Many people wouldn’t survive in a crisis event, I for one need to be better at self-sufficiency, that is why I read sites like yours, thanks for providing great insight!

    • Laurie says:

      SO true!!!! I think about the recent weather disasters over on the East Coast: those people really left in traumatic situations, and most of them could do nothing but sit by and wait for help. Glad you found the post useful, Jim – that’s my goal!!

  5. Nice work on this one Laurie. My friend and I have learned how to live off the land and get by on close to nothing, but I think it is important to be prepared for the worst. You never know what might happen or when!

    • Laurie says:

      You’re so right, Grayson. What used to be basic skills that everyone simply knew has turned into a rarity now. You and your friend were smart to have learned how to live off the land. I believe it’s one of the most valuable skills we can posess.

  6. The one survival thing that I want is a small solar panel, or battery pack, or something that can charge up my cell phone. When I was without power for a week, keeping in touch and finding out information was the hardest part of the whole experience.

    • Laurie says:

      I bet that was really difficult, not knowing what was going on. That’s a really good idea, MFIJ about the battery pack.

  7. Pauline says:

    interesting that cigarettes, gum or chocolate disappear after can openers or grinders. We aren’t really prepared for an emergency but we have cows and chickens to barter, and a large lake to drink. Many people say we should get a gun, I hate firearms.

    • Laurie says:

      I’m not a big fan of them either, Pauline. But I did get one and learn safety and how to shoot, just because I don’t want to be in a position where I can’t protect myself/the kids from the bad guys, you know? I sure hope I never have to use it, but I’m glad I know how.

  8. Interesting list Laurie! It reminds me how we take things forgranted until something bad happens. I noticed mouse traps on the list. We could use a ton of those right now as our backyard is full of mice after a long winter of cold snow sitting out there for months which made a great hiding place for them.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh no! We have two great barn cats that take care of most of our rodents. The one thing we do have here is possums. They look like rats, only they weigh 20-30 pounds – Sicorra, they’re SO icky!!!!!!

  9. What an fascinating list. Natural disasters do happen and the first thing you hear about is all the shortages. Many people in California have earthquake preparedness kits, although I think some have probably gotten lax on those too, since (knock on wood) most quakes have been quite small with little or no damage.

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, thank goodness it’s been a long time since you guys had a “biggie” out there. No matter what the disaster, preparedness is always a good plan.

  10. We have friends that are pretty serious preppers, and the level of emergency they are prepared for is pretty astounding. They had a well dug on their home property on the beach, and own land that they keep fully stocked in the middle of nowhere in case the worst happens to society.

  11. I have gone as far as to have an emergency stash of canned food and duct tape but that’s about it! If all hell breaks loose, I’m taking my kids and husband and going to my parents!

  12. Justin says:

    Because my old boss’s wife was Bosnian, I’ve worked with quite a few who suffered during the war. From the stories they’ve told this is all true. It’s kind of scary what happens when civilization breaks down and during disasters even the most advanced cities can quickly become third-world.
    I agree that TP is worth more than gold and silver in these situations.

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, that must have been a great learning experience, Justin. I love hearing and learning from people who’ve been through stuff like this.

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