Written by Steve Cannon for USSANews.com.
What will you need when SHTF? By SHTF, I mean the worst possible scenario imaginable. Here’s my list with an explanation of why I need each item.
Just remember, you don’t need to get everything that’s on this list tomorrow. I’m not rich either. Personally, I put all this together over a few months, and most of it is pretty cheap and simple to get. Prioritize this list according to you and your family’s needs.
Transportation and Go Bag
First, you’ll need to have a place to go. Odds are your city or neighborhood won’t be the first to experience unrest or war and you’ll have a little time to get outta Dodge. Hopefully you have a place 50 – 100 miles outside of a major city. Why? In the event of the worst case scenario: mass rioting or nuclear war. No one riots in the backwoods or in the mountains, so that’s about the safest place you can be.
If there’s a threat of a nuclear war, you’ll want to get as far from major cities as possible because the most devastating nuclear warhead in the world has about an 80 mile radius. Beyond that point, you are 100% safe. Try this nuclear war interactive map to see if you’re safe.
Vehicle: Get a 4X4 truck, or at least a reliable off-road vehicle that can store large items and tow things if needed. Imagine a situation where the roads are clogged with endless stagnate cars. With a truck or similar vehicle, roads are not needed. Make sure you can move when you need to move. Also, have your Go Bag in the back of it so you don’t have to waste time hunting for things in an emergency situation. Colors also matter. For your truck and Go Bag, I would get something that blends in nicely with your new surroundings, in other words, nothing flashy.
Go Bag and Truck Contents
These items are not listed in order of importance. I do own them all however and find them all important for emergency situations, or when I like to go camping. Again, none of us are rich. Get these items over time.
Shortwave radio: Getting the news is vital in an emergency situation. Shortwave radios offer more than just the local AM and FM bands. From this radio, you can pick up information from all over the world so you can be informed about what’s going on and where. This includes AM and FM, worldwide shortwave bands, the national weather band, and air traffic bands. Not bad for $99.
Camera: I own the Nikon D850. I think it would be a good idea to visually document whatever emergency situation you find yourself in for posterity, when time allows, of course. I know I will.
Geiger counter: In the event of nuclear war, there will be radioactive fallout all over the planet. A Geiger counter can tell you exactly where the radiation is and whether or not you’re in a safe zone. Think of it as a metal detector for radiation. This could really save your life! Tip: You want to keep the reading as low as possible, under 50 CPMs is normal, under 100 CPMs is okay, but you should start investigating.
Potassium Iodide: These are pills that can save your life in the event of radiation poisoning. The US Government is supposed to have a stockpile of these, but do you really want to knock on their door and wait in line during a nuclear war? I didn’t think so. Potassium Iodide is a natural salt that is cheap and protects you from radiation. Specifically, it protects your thyroid, which is the most susceptible organ to radiation, thus preventing thyroid cancer and premature death. I bought the 28 pack. Tip: Dosage is one 130mg tablet daily per adult. Cut the tablet in half for children.
Water filter: I bought four Life Straws. Each filters about 400 gallons of water. I also have several gallons of bottled water in my Go Bag so I think I’ll be okay for a while. Obviously, you need more water than food in an emergency situation. I went on the cheap and small side because the Life Straw is small and will last a while. Carrying a bulky filtering system is just not practical while waiting for an incident to occur. I would recommend getting several of these or a larger system depending upon the size of your family.
Tactical Knife: Obviously you’ll need to cut things and defend yourself if you’re not in your comfort zone. A reliable knife is just the tool for that. I have about three or four.
Guns: I own five 9mm handguns, two shotguns, and two rifles. Now if you happen to live in one of those panty-waste liberal cities or states like NYC or California, you’re probably SOL when SHTF. If you’re concerned about the end of the world, get out of said liberal place now, both physically and mentally! Then get a real gun. I can go on an on about what to buy and why, but the bottom line is this: Get a 9mm handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun. The 9mm ammunition is the most common ammunition on the market (plus semi-automatics have a higher capacity than revolvers) thereby making it easier to find if needed in an emergency situation. Use said guns for self-defense and hunting when needed. Now if you’re stuck in a liberal city, get a BB Gun. While not as effective as the real thing, it can still do some damage, plus it looks like the real thing and you may be able to bluff.
Ammunition: Guns and ammo may be the new currency if the SHTF. Who knows? In any event, I have about a two-thousand rounds of 9mm ammo. Hollow point ammo are safer for two reasons: 1. They normally don’t go through the target, keeping innocent people behind the target safe. 2. They expand on impact, causing more damage to the target thereby stopping the target.
Walkie Talkies: You’ll need to communicate if and when cell phone service dies. I went with the Motorola version because they have a 35 mile range with multiple secure channels. They’re also waterproof and have rechargeable batteries (and can also use regular batteries). I bought the bright yellow pair because that color makes them difficult to lose. I bought two, but get as many as you need.
Fuel: Life is easier when you have warmth and hot food. Fuel can make that happen nicely. Easier and quicker than rubbing two sticks together!
Lighters: Life is easier when you have warmth and hot food. Lighters can make that happen nicely. Easier and quicker than rubbing two sticks together!
Waterproof Matches: Life is easier when you have warmth and hot food. Lighters can make that happen nicely. Easier and quicker than rubbing two sticks together!
Food: To be sure you’ll need to eat when SHTF. Canned goods and freeze-dried foods are your only option, outside of growing it yourself and waiting. I have a five month supply of freeze-dried food. If I have to feed the whole family with no other food source, it might only last a month, so plan accordingly.
Alcohol: You’ll want to have both rubbing and drinking alcohol on hand. I prefer the latter because when SHTF, I want to have a good time, plus it can be used as an anesthetic, antiseptic, and fire accelerant. Hell if things are really bad, you can barter with it!
Heavy Winter Jacket: If you survive a war or riot situation, you’re most likely in a place that will get cold in the winter. Having a large winter jacket will help you stay warm. It can also be used as a blanket or pillow for you and your family.
Shoes & Boots: Make sure you have at least one pair of waterproof boots and one pair of comfortable shoes. The shoes you have on when hitting the road may not be all-season or even that durable.
T-shirts, pants, and general clothes: You’ll need more than what you have on in order to make it long term. Having clothes that fit you is always a good idea, emergency or not. Shopping won’t be an option when you’re in survival mode. Camo’s a good idea too – in case you need to hide.
Assorted batteries: Think about all the electronics I’ve mentioned, and will mention. You need to get power to them. Batteries do not last forever, but are small and cheap. Make sure you have a few packs of each size for when the power goes out.
Motor Oil: Grab a few quarts and toss them in the back of the truck, just in case. You’re no good to anyone if your truck runs out of oil. Remember, always be ready to move, and fast!
Tactical Flashlight: If there’s no electricity, there’s no light. (Remember those batteries I told ya to get?) The “tactical” qualifier comes into play because you can use these lights as beacons or weapons (blinding an attacker). Plus these are incredibly bright and can be focused. They are also extremely durable.
Toilet paper: They never mentioned this on The Walking Dead, did they? Sadly, I only have one roll in my Go Bag.
Miscellaneous hand tools: Because power tools simply won’t work without power. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just have a good variety. Even a Multi-Tool is better than nothing. Common tools are: Hammers, axes, screwdrivers, wrenches, hand saws, and so on.
Sleeping Bag: You never know where you’ll end up sleeping when in survival mode. A Sleeping Bag will keep you warm and comfortable when needed the most.
Sweats: You’ll want to be comfortable when you get a moment to breathe. Plus they can double as regular clothes if needed.
Blankets: You and your family will want to keep warm when you need to. Having a blanket or two in the back of your truck is always a good idea.
First aid kit: Obviously you’ll need one for anything unexpected, especially if you’re nowhere near a hospital. I would recommend getting the best one you can afford, or do like me: get two different ones and combine them together.
Phone charger: In case the situation isn’t that bad. It’s cheap and small and nice to have in your Go Bag, just in case. Get the multi-fit, durable ones like I have.
Pocket Constitution: Not a necessity, but if the rule of law disappears, we may need to rebuild. Let’s rebuild based on this document please. I bought 15 to pass out to friends and family.
Generator and Fuel: This is great when there is no electricity. Make sure you have access to gasoline as well. You’ll need it. I do have a small one – and it’s better than nothing for sure. Get one if you can afford it. The bigger, the better! You can fuel your truck too.
Tactical Pen and Glass breaker: Use this where you can’t use a knife or a gun (say an airplane). Or if your truck ends up in a lake with you in it. Easily break the window and escape from a sinking car, or break the head of the terrorist who’s attacking you. It writes too!
Grab this stuff last minute
Hard drives and Laptop: If there’s time, I’d like to keep my work and memories with me. They’ll probably be no internet at this point though. Just sad.
A Good Watch: By “good watch” I mean one that is solar powered. Keeping track of time can be important when under stress. Never worrying about the battery life is a plus. I own a solar powered one, meaning it can last up to a year with zero sunlight, It also adjusts itself to the atomic clock nightly. The right time is never an issue and it just looks plain cool.
Any medication you might be taking (or have in your medicine chest): In an emergency situation, you’ll never know when you have time to get proper medical care.
Eyeglasses: I imagine you’d like to see the end of the world clearly. I know I do.
Gold, silver, and cash: I have plenty of each in my safe and in a bag ready to go. Who knows what the currency of the next disaster will be? With this, plus my guns and ammo, I’m ready!
Passport and important documents: Who knows where we end up in an emergency situation? New Zealand? In any event, you should grab your wallet with your driver’s license, Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Debit and Credit Cards, irreplaceable photos, and so on.
And if the End of the World Never Comes?
No problem. Everything on this list can be used while camping or for everyday use. Hell, I’m sure you can sell most everything if you’re that upset about the world not ending. 🙂