I know a lot of preps cost quite a bit of money. For example, a decent bug-out bag could run you $50 or more – a good one will likely be upwards of $100. But there are many, many dollar store preps that you could add to your bug-out bag. Let’s look at a few.
Dollar Store Preps – Packing your bug-out bag for cheap!
It’s always good to have multiple options for starting fires. Matches can be found in large and small packs. I would recommend trying to find strike anywhere matches – you won’t have to worry about the striking surface because the phosphorous is in the match head. If you get matches, you can wrap the stick with a couple of layers of toilet paper, and dip them (one end at a time) in melted paraffin wax. When you’re ready to light, you pop the wax off the match head and fray the toilet paper a little so when you light it, you’ve in essence got yourself a long-burning fire starter that will hold its flame for a long time.
You can also pick up a pack of lighters. The thing to remember about these cheap-o lighters is that if you push down the little button, the fuel inside will come out whether you’re trying to light it or not. It could be dangerous if you’re already near flame, but just as important, if you’re in a SHTF scenario, you won’t have any fluid in your lighter. If you’re putting a lighter in your bug-out bag, tie a little cordage around the top of the lighter so the button can’t be pressed down.
Note: If you carry a lighter and it runs out of fluid, keep it! You can still get a spark from the flint. If you’re in a survival situation, pop the metal shield off of the lighter and you get direct access to the spark. This can come in handy if you have a fire starter straw that can catch a spark and ignite.
Be sure to keep matches and lighters in water-tight containers.
You might even get lucky at the dollar store and find a magnifying glass or a cheap pair of bifocal glasses for reading that can be used to start fires in sunny situations. Use them as a convex lens to direct the sun’s rays to a focal point and ignite your tender bundle.
Let’s face it, even in the best of situations, people get headaches, sore throats and have allergic reactions to one thing or another. Put yourself in a SHTF situation and the issue could become dire – especially if you don’t have food or water readily available.
A bad reaction to a bee sting, ant bite, or poison ivy could really make life miserable… well, more miserable, considering you’re already potentially in a state of emergency. Ibuprofen, aspirin and allergy medicine should all be kept on hand. If you can find these at the dollar store in the little individual packages are a bonus! If not, you can always put a couple in a straw and seal the ends (kind of like I did with the fire starter straws). These can be added to even the smallest survival kit.
First Aid Supplies
There are many first aid supplies that can be bought from the dollar store. These are a necessity in your preps. Without them, an emergency situation can turn tragic very quickly. A simple cut could get infected without proper care, and in a survival situation, an infection could cost you your life.
Alcohol prep pads and hydrogen peroxide are used to clean areas prior to applying a dressing. Neosporin is a universal ointment for just about any type of cut or abrasion. A box of band-aids, gauze, and medical tape are basic bandage materials for anything from minor cuts to gaping wounds.
You might even find a small zipper bag that you can put your medical kit into to pack inside your bug-out bag.
Like first aid supplies, hygiene supplies are a necessity. Being in an emergency situation is no reason to not be clean. Also, being clean will ultimately cut down on the amount of first aid you may need. Soap and shampoo are a good start. You can get the travel sizes for your bug-out bag – just be sure to put them in a waterproof toiletry bag to keep them from leaking all over everything in your pack.
A toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash help, too. A tooth ache can be crippling if infection sets-in! The floss can also double as fishing line, sewing thread to repair ripped clothing and bags, or even sutures in a pinch!
Hand sanitizer is a great item to keep in your bug-out bag. Not only will it help you stay clean and potentially keep you from getting sick, but the alcohol content makes it flammable. Use hand sanitizer to help start fires in emergency situations.
One main source of lighting at night is your campfire, but if you’re inside, you can’t take the campfire with you. Indoors you’ll need flashlights and candles – both of which you can get at the dollar store. (Don’t forget the batteries for the flashlights!) You can also shave off tiny bits of wax from your candle to help start your fire if you’re making fire without matches or a lighter.
You may even find some glow-sticks at the dollar store. While they may not be top-of-the-line light sources, they’ll do for a quick way to light your tent or hang in a tree near your camp in case you have to wander-off for a midnight nature call.
While the dollar store may not provide the most nutritious foods, they will have stuff that will help you survive. Canned meats, veggies and fruits can all be found at the dollar store. You don’t want huge, heavy items, so look for the half-sized cans and make sure the calorie count is high. The more calories you take in, the better off you’ll be for survival.
This might seem a bit frivolous, but if you get in this situation and are just sitting there doing nothing, things seem more bleak… and if you have kids, you definitely need to have a few “boredom busters” on hand! Playing cards, magazines, and activity books are all easy dollar store preps to find. You might get luck and find a few board games to help break up the monotony.
You can pick up t-shirts, underwear, socks, gloves, ponchos (for protection from the rain) and other such clothing items to add to your preps. In a real time of need, these can also be used for tinder, tourniquets, and small bag-like carrying devices.
There are also many other things you can pick up – water bottles, duct tape, shoe laces (to be used for cordage), knives, and much more! The possibilities are limitless. In an emergency, primarily everything in a dollar store can be used for survival.
What else would you pick-up from the dollar store to add to your emergency preps?
My friend Erica from Living Life in Rural Iowa has taken the Dollar Store challenge and come up with some pretty good resources! Check out her article “What This Prepper Buys: The $1 Dollar General Challenge”.