Checklist for Hard Times

“The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war.”

~ Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

As we approach what many say will be the “Greatest Depression” I was inspired to combine lists into items needed in hard times. What follows is a list of lists covering areas that sustain the average family.

Most US families have no such checklist. Good times, as far as we can remember, don’t inspire planning for hard times. We’ve been immune from such worries for 65 years since the end of World War II. The average historical memory is probably only 20–30 years.

That lack of historical perspective is a handicap against what is currently happening to the US economy. And, the US is exporting their worst problems to the rest of the world. Ironically, “other" countries are facing hard times now, before the US.

My interest in optimizing all things leads me to prepare for good times and bad. I’m a natural optimist and believe that our Creator gave us the ability to overcome all obstacles. Checklists like this are proof of that ability. It was wise, not pessimistic of the Biblical Joseph to store seven years of grain before the famine.

To optimize one must first be thorough. When it comes to preparing for hard times that means making a thorough checklist. You may not have to purchase, store or do every item on the checklist. But, there’s many benefits to making one.

If your family could check off all the items on this list as ether done, not applicable or have access to then you’ll be doing far better than average even in good times.

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Benefits of The Checklist, Itself

Just making your own version of this checklist leaves you mindful of the many tools and things that sustain us. It may even point out some weaknesses you haven’t yet addressed or thought about.

Another benefit is realizing we don’t need to own everything on the list. Simple access to many items is fine, and sometimes better, than ownership. That’s where friends and community come into play: We trade and share to make life easier and be more smart. Being more smart with what we have leads to needing less things to begin with.

Still, things like food, water, shelter and clothing are probably best owned. For essentials, there’s many benefits to listing and buying them, in advance:

  1. You need them, anyway, so nothing goes to waste.
  2. Buy them now, while they’re available.
  3. Buy them before inflation raises their price (And your boss doesn’t raise your wages).
  4. Get bulk discounts.
  5. Less trips to the store is more efficient.
  6. The cost of not having essentials is a “high price" to pay.
  7. Thinking through this checklist tends to optimize your household which leads to needing less things.
  8. Awareness of essentials gets your mind spinning on creative ways to obtain them.

You might say this is a good list for good times. And it’s a great list for hard times.

Gold, Guns & Butter in Reverse

Gold comes last, not first.

“Before you buy gold, buy what you’ll need the gold for.”

We still have division of labor. That makes everything needed in hard times available for purchase now. If we get to a time when gold is needed to survive many essentials won’t be available at any price. Distribution channels for things that are available will be crippled. That will make their price rise even in gold terms.

By the way, have you seen the price of gold, lately? With one ounce in your pocket who will be able to make change for $1000 when you need milk and eggs at the store? It may be time to learn what our ancestors knew: Gold is for kings and Silver is for people.

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The Checklist

Making this list forced me to recognize my limitations. As much as I value self-reliance being the sole provider of every item would be hard, if not impossible. For any truly hard times I’d want my family and friends around, at least. Any kind of optimal living, however, would need to go beyond that. That’s why I recommend adding one of the most urgent and crucial items onto your list in the ‘personal’ section: “Find people you can trust.”

Click on a category to go to a list for that area. Cut/paste the whole list into a word processor and use it to make your own.

Health & Medical

Water Food Food Preparation Hygiene/Sanitation


Tools Security Firefighting

Business & Finance



Clothing Books


Communications Transportation

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  • hydrogen peroxide
  • alcohol for sterilization
  • Vitamins / Minerals / Herbs
  • Bandages
  • hot water bottles
  • Ice packs
  • sterile pads
  • slings/splints or raw material to make them
  • tweezers
  • hemostats
  • sutures and needles
  • clamps
  • stethoscopes
  • blood-pressure cuffs
  • thermometers
  • scalpels and blades
  • non-disposable syringes and needles
  • wound cleaning syringes
  • Iodine
  • Imodium
  • anti-histamine
  • aloe
  • Mercurochrome
  • Betadine
  • u201CBag Balmu201D (an antiseptic lotion)
  • dental floss
  • baking soda, instead of toothpaste
  • Personal medications
  • Augmentin / general antibiotics
  • Get dental work up to date
  • Painkillers, aspirin
  • Anti-fungal spray
  • DIY Dentistry kits (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction tools)
  • burn treatment supplies
  • minor surgery kit (inexpensive Pakistani stainless steel instruments)

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  • Install Whole House Water Filter (Chlorine)
  • Install three-stage water filter under sink for drinking water
  • Atmospheric Water Generator/Filter for water from the sky
  • Rainwater catch from roof
  • House downspout (Redirected with sheet metal into barrels)
  • Water Containers for rainwater
  • Clorox hypochlorite bleach for sterilization
  • Berkey Water filters for rainwater/travel/car
  • Water containers for car
  • Water containers for barter

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  • Choose & Order 6-month supply of Freeze Dried food for entire family
  • See Water section for rehydrating freeze dried food
  • Decide on Storage Solution (Freeze dried makes that much easier)
  • Purchase containers to store the food
  • Designate cool & dry space for food storage
  • Purchase DVD canning instructions
  • Consider supplementing Freeze Dried storage with:
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Canned goods
  • tuna
  • salmon
  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • soup
  • chili
  • milk — evaporated
  • beans
  • rice
  • peanut butter
  • popcorn
  • Dried pasta
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil — Best for long term storage
  • coffee
  • beer
  • wine
  • whiskey
  • pet food
  • protein bars
  • baby food/formula
  • spices (Makes all other list items taste better)
  • salt — sea salt and some iodized

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Food Preparation

  • backup stove — BBQ Grill or portable Colemen or the like
  • fuel for backup stove — 6 propane tanks, Sterno, white gas
  • Grain mill if using flour or require grain grinding
  • pots, pans, utensils, dishes
  • paper towels
  • Mylar bags
  • Aluminum foil — Heavy (Can also be used for barter)
  • Wax Paper
  • pots and pans
  • buckets
  • mops
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • metal mixing bowls
  • baking sheets
  • roasting pans
  • cleaning brushes
  • canning jars with seals and lids
  • baby food jars (excellent for storage)
  • thermos bottles
  • can openers
  • potato peelers
  • spray bottles

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  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Razors
  • Toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • lotions
  • Soap (hand, dish, laundry, cleansers)
  • Shampoo
  • Hairbrush
  • Ladies' supplies
  • Toothpaste (or powder)
  • Floss
  • Q-tips
  • Sunscreen

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  • Electricity Generator
  • call local utility company regarding solar panels
  • decide on which source of fuel (gasoline, diesel, natural gas/propane)
  • prepare city approval plans
  • decide on contractor or self-install
  • Consider only installing transfer switch and renting during emergency
  • install generator
  • test generator
  • house inventory of tools and box contents
  • garage sale items
  • sort out what needs to be stored
  • sort out what needs to be sold
  • inventory box contents
  • decide on storage for box contents
  • Decide on barter storage space
  • store barter items
  • pellets for winter
  • firewood
  • LED lights for all rooms in the house
  • lighters

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  • Socket sets
  • pocket multi-tools
  • wrench sets
  • drill bits
  • chisels (wood and metal working)
  • files
  • Allen wrenches
  • screwdrivers
  • driver bits (with manual drivers)
  • cutters (side-cutters, end-cutters, snips)
  • clamps
  • hammers (of all sizes)
  • pry-bars
  • shovels
  • rakes (the heavy gardening type)
  • handsaws (hacksaws, crosscuts, etc.)
  • axes
  • oil
  • grease
  • WD-40
  • graphite grease
  • Gardening tools
  • Auto mechanics tools
  • Welding
  • Bolt cutters
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  • Gunsmithing tools
  • work gloves
  • wire of various gauges
  • duct tape
  • chain
  • nails
  • nuts and bolts
  • weather stripping
  • glue

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  • Alarm System (Connected via wireless cell, not landline phone)
  • Connect alarm system to smoke detectors
  • 3rd-Party (ICE) contact for separated family members
  • Handgun
  • Shotgun
  • Rifle
  • Ammunition
  • Magazines, speed loaders
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  • Spare parts for all gun tools
  • Gun Safe(s)
  • DuraCoat
  • eye and ear protection
  • carrying cases

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  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Upgrade to a metal roof?
  • Clear brush around house
  • 2" water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide large water volume for firefighting)
  • Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
  • Smoke and CO Detectors

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Business & Finance

  • decide now on computer and hardware upgrades
  • decide now on software upgrades
  • Pay all vendors as far in advance as they will accept
  • Pay all subscriptions (internet, software upgrades, etc.) in advance
  • Pay all service providers in advance
  • Pay off all high-interest loans within reason
  • Keep money in a range of currencies or gold/silver
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  • Consider 2nd backup business if primary is vulnerable
  • Read The Hyperinflation Survival Guide: Strategies for American Businesses (Paperback)
  • Spare copy of all crucial documents

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  • Water (From ecoloblue generator)
  • Eggs (Freeze dried)
  • Milk (Freeze dried)
  • Salt
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Cooking spices
  • Ammunition (9mm, .38, ,.357, .40, .45 ACP, .44 Mag, .223, .308)
  • Rope
  • Candles
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Whiskey

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  • Make separate list for everyone in house
  • Prescription and nonprescription medications
  • Spare copy of all crucial documents
  • Backup eyeglasses
  • Backup reading glasses
  • sunglasses
  • Keep dentistry up to date
  • Any elective surgery that you’ve been postponing
  • Work off that gut
  • Stay in shape
  • Find people you can trust

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  • jeans
  • belts
  • warm durable jackets
  • wool sweaters
  • wool work clothes
  • T-shirts
  • Jean shirts
  • underwear
  • work gloves
  • boots
  • sneakers
  • sandals
  • baseball caps
  • hats for sun protection
  • Web gear/Bullet proof vests?
  • towels

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  • Batteries of all types
  • pencils and pens
  • paper
  • Mosquito repellent
  • sleeping bags for each person
  • flashlights
  • penlights
  • Escape route maps
  • Topographic maps of your area
  • Safe room areas mapped out for your house/neighborhood
  • Home Invasion procedures & guidelines
  • Spare Masterlocks

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  • AM/FM radios (crank power)
  • shortwave for local communication and monitoring
  • longwave for backup communications
  • police band monitoring
  • List of frequencies used in area

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  • advance maintenance for cars
  • replace tires that will wear out within 1 year
  • make sure have spare tires for all cars
  • emergency kits for each car
  • Make sure bicycles are in shape

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September 25, 2009