{Lifestyle} Essential Non-food Emergency Storage

When we think of food storage, an image of a closet or garage lined with canned foods may be the first thing to come to mind, but emergencies require much more than adequate food. J. Bart Mills of Shelf Reliance says, “Food is a great foundation to start with, but it’s crucial to build upon this foundation so your family is prepared for whatever comes your way.” One of the best ways to fully prepare your family for an emergency is to stock up on non-food items that may often be forgotten when we begin to build our food storage reserves. 

But what exactly is a non-food storage item? Non-food storage items can be thought of in three categories: kitchen accessories, bathroom and hygiene supplies, and special items such as batteries, bedding, and games. 

Getting Started
A good way to begin building your non-food storage reserve is to make a non-food item inventory list to assess what items you already have and what items you may need to purchase. If you are unsure of what items to include on your inventory list, consider the everyday needs of the members in your family. 

For instance, if you have a baby, remember to store extra diapers and baby wipes; if you have family members with illnesses or special dietary needs, remember to store extra supplies of medicine. “Every family is different, whether it’s their financial situation, size, or geographic location,” says Mills. “An Emergency Planner can take care of all this. You simply need to enter the size of your family, your geographic location, and what level of kit you would like based on your budget.” You can use the Emergency Planner tool at shelfreliance.com to begin planning what non-food item storage you may need.

Store Gradually
It’s important to build your supply gradually so you will be able to maintain a financial reserve as well. Set up a schedule of certain things that you want to buy each month. For instance, one month you could buy items dealing with warmth, such as emergency blankets and sleeping bags. The next month you could buy items dealing with emergency lighting.  

The best way to gradually build your non-food item supply is to buy items in bulk when you are able to. You should use only the amount that your family needs for three months and then store the rest away. The great thing about non-food items is that you can store them in creative places around your house, like under beds or in sheds, basements, or attics. However, make sure these places are dry areas. “It’s important to remember that a lot of items in your kit have a shelf life,” says Mills. “If your kit has batteries, first aid kits, water pouches, or food calorie bars, they will need to be replaced when they have reached their expiration date. We recommend going through your kits yearly to make necessary updates to your supplies.”

To simplify the storage of non-food items, consider solar or crank flashlights and water filtration bottles, since these products either don’t need to be replaced or can last up to 25+ years.

Essential Items 
The most important non-food items you can store are a 72-hour kit and a water supply. “Water is so important for survival because the average human can only live for three days without water,” says Mills. “It’s necessary to have an adequate supply of water or a way to filter water from different water sources.” If you are unprepared for three days, it is unlikely you will survive any longer. This concept may stress the reason why the general authorities counsel us to make and maintain 72-hour kits. 

Remember to only begin concentrating on building up your non-food storage after you have built up an adequate food storage supply. In order to start building your own non-food storage supply, check out shelfreliance.com for tips, helpful hints, and tools to help plan your non-food item stores. Also, check out the list of items below to get an idea of what to store.

Basic Non-food Storage Items You Should Have
Kitchen Items
Manual can opener
Mess kits or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
All-purpose knife
Household liquid bleach to treat drinking water
Sugar, salt, pepper
Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
Resealable plastic bags
Small cooking stove and cooking fuel

Sanitation and Hygiene Supplies
Tooth paste, toothbrushes
Shampoo, comb, and brush
Deodorants, sunscreen
Razor, shaving cream
Contact lens solutions
Feminine supplies
Toilet paper

Other Items

Water barrels, portable water containers

Activity games, cards, books

Change of clothes
Battery-operated light source

All-purpose cleaner


Financial reserve/money


Tools (hammer, shovel) 


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