School supplies are very useful to the super-prepared, for they help us become more organized as a people. Organization is one of the key skills that separates us preppers from common hoarders. Well, that and we know how to use a machete (kept under our beds) to hack our way out of a collapsed building after the Cascadia fault line shifts.
Since it is back to school time across America, school supplies are plentiful and cheap right now. We’re all about taking advantage of seasonal pricing at the ol’ Prephappy offices, so it’s at this time of year that we replenish our stock of school supplies. Here’s our favorites and why they made the list:
1. A Label Maker
Label everything that’s important to find. And for me, well, that’s everything. So I get a lot of use out of my label maker. The reason a label maker is important for being prepared is that your stuff has to be findable by people other than you – if you’re not home, it may not be easy for your family to call you to find out which box has the sewing supplies. This is the label maker I just upgraded to from Amazon.
If you’re a labeler, then you’ll understand the excitement that a shiny new-fangled-all-the-bells-and-whistles label maker brings. If you’re not yet a labeler, consider picking one up: I’m guessing that within minutes of firing that bad boy up, that you’ll be labeling everything including your first born.
2. A Chalkboard + Chalk
Leave a message for a family member, or give a place for the kids to write on post SHTF. You can also use a chalkboard for diagramming any kind of game plan, or explaining concepts. It’s reusable and there’s nothing like it for conveying a message to a larger group. In case of the end of civilization, you could even use it to make a living as a teacher: many of the super-prepared will have a lot to teach others, from traditional 2+2 =? to survival skills.
I got mine at Amazon, and right now, it’s used for discussing web development approaches (that’s my day job). Buy chalk at back-to-school sales, or you can make your own chalk with various things like plaster of Paris or cornstarch.
Why not a dry erase board? Because in a worst-case scenario you can’t make your own dry erase markers.
3. Pencil Boxes
I organize everything in pencil boxes. The size makes them perfect for making kits of things. And it’s kits that keep me super-prepared and super-organized. At this time of year, they are also super-cheap: I bought a batch of them this week at Target for $.50 each (I’ve heard about $.01 ones at office supply stores this time of year, but I’ve never actually seen the elusive $.01 box in person).
Buy these during back-to-school season because the price difference is astounding – during the rest of the year they can be as much as $8.00. Even if you don’t have a planned use for them, believe me, you’ll start finding uses right away. Here’s some ways I use them:
- Sewing kit. I bought a sewing kit that I love, but wanted to add some things into it, and the organizer it came in was too small. Perfect for the pencil box.
- Organizing my medical kit. I have several basic medical kits, but as soon as I started to expand on them, I outgrew the boxes they came in.
- Nail + finger kit. Perfect for nail clippers, splinter removers, or anything that could happen to fingers.
- Camping kits. You can make spice kits, mess kits, etc. with pencil boxes.
- Charger kits. Keep all your chargers in one place.
- Batteries. I’m a bit of a battery connoisseur so I find that pencil boxes are an ideal way to store my various batteries in my Faraday cage (grounded metal filing cabinet).
- Photo cards and flash drives. Keep them in one place, and in a Faraday cage.
- Pet medical kits. Keep a spare collar and tag, microchip number, etc. all in one little box for your pets.
- Small parts. Keep bolts and screws, etc. in a pencil box.
- Playing cards. Keep your playing cards together in one box so you don’t lose one. This also works for game pieces.
4. Index cards + Boxes
Index cards are useful for all sorts of preparedness purposes. They’re old-school, for sure, but they just work so darned well.
We started using index cards to help keep track of expiration dates of our food storage, so we can easily make sure to rotate our stock before it’s too late. The basic system is this:
- There’s one note card box for the current year, and for each year out (3 years out is our max). Each box has monthly dividers.
- When a new influx of provisions arrives, add a card to the box for the month and year it will expire. The card has the item name and expiry date written in pencil.
- When the item has been exhausted, find the card via the expiration date and recycle it.
Index cards are crazy cheap and plentiful this time of year – just make sure you have an organized way to store them. These great little boxes in the photo came from Target.
If you’ve never had a pair of multi-scissors, prepare to fall in love. I didn’t think I needed another pair until my kitchen shears were lost in a move. Their replacement was a pair of multi-scissors. Here’s what makes them awesome for prepping:
- They cut through chicken bones easily – every prepper who eats meat should know how to eviscerate a chicken.
- A built-in sharpener in the sheath makes it easy to sharpen the blades.
- They convert to a fixed-blade knife (titanium, at that, fellas).
Plus they do a bunch of other things like open bottles and cut tape. I bought mine at Amazon.
These are actually vital preps – in the event of a prolonged power outage, you’re going to need to write some things down.
In the worst-case scenario, pencils will be necessary to write notes to each other, directions to places, keeping a journal of supplies, logging your bartering partner’s contact information, copying down recipes, etc. Take advantage of back-to-school sales and just get a spare dozen or so. They’re not expensive, and you’ll be glad you have them should you run into a long term power outage.
At the very least, you’ll be able to write and preserve the experience of whatever SHTF looks like for future generations.
What school supplies do you find to be vital to your preparations? Now that I’ve shared my favorites, I’d love to hear what you guys keep!