Humans are creatures of habit. Stores and places that people used every day to get supplies are going to quickly be overrun and cleaned out following a collapse. In addition, gangs may be lying in wait at these popular places because they know it’s a great place to prey on desperate people trying to find supplies post-SHTF.
So, if you find yourself in need of supplies, what do you do instead? Perhaps your stockpiled supplies were somehow ruined or even stolen or confiscated or you just underestimated your needs.
How do you provide for yourself and your family without putting yourself in the way of additional threats? The trick is to know where to find supplies post-SHTF in those buildings where other people won’t think to check right away. You have to be creative, think outside of the box about what you’re in need of and where you might find it OTHER than a grocery store, hardware store, etc.
Instead of going to places that would normally stock the supplies you need, think about which places in your area USE or STOCK the items you may need. Trespassing and breaking and entering are illegal and not something to be undertaken lightly and should be avoided if possible. But in a disastrous event, where your family is in danger and government and other emergency services are unavailable to assist, you have to do what needs done.
We’ve given you some examples below along with a few things you might find at each place. We also have this other list of places to avoid when the unthinkable happens.
Physical Therapy Clinics
One of the places to find supplies post-SHTF that almost no one will think to look is physical therapy clinics. You won’t find a ton of food here, except a few things the staff kept on hand in the staff lounge. But you will find things the therapists used to treat their patients during appointments. Look for things such as ace bandages or wraps, crutches, analgesic creams, hot/cold packs, walkers, a wheelchair.
One thing you will find that most people won’t know can be used are large rolls of TheraBand. This is long stretchy sturdy material, similar to an industrial rubber band. It’s used in therapy exercises. Therapists cut off the length they need for each patient during appointments and that piece can only be used for that patient, so they keep large rolls of it, usually hanging on the wall. You may have seen something similar used it during an exercise routine.
TheraBand can be used for a wide variety of things other than therapy including to make a rope, make a slingshot, tie things to your pack, or make a sling for a sprained or broken arm.
Public and Private Schools
Any public or private schools that aren’t being used as an evacuation center or shelter will most likely be abandoned. Depending upon the type of SHTF and how quickly it occurred, these buildings may not even be locked. Public and private schools stock food and beverages so they can feed children breakfast and lunches every day. Most people won’t think of this as a resource. You may be able to find some of this food still intact that you can use.
Industrial Buildings and Manufacturing Facilities
These buildings will be abandoned quickly, especially if the power is out indefinitely. But they can be a great place to find supplies because other people won’t think to look in these buildings and they are often located away from densely populated parts of the city. This means you can avoid huge crowds of desperate people and still find supplies you need.
Check the employee lounge or offices for things like personal first aid supplies, water, and food. You may also find things like walkie talkies, tools, first aid kits, generators, and batteries. Depending on the type of facility you could also find fuels such as propane, kerosene, and gasoline. Look for abandoned company vehicles. These could be parked, fully gassed up and ready to go Monday morning. Keys are usually hung in a box on the wall in the maintenance or shipping office.
Daycare centers, preschools, and other facilities designed to care for children during the day will likely be quickly evacuated and otherwise abandoned post-SHTF. These are the perfect place to look for supplies that you may need, especially if you have children. If the facility has an on-site kitchen for feeding lunches, you may find stockpiles of food. But even if there is no kitchen, you can find snack foods such as crackers, peanut butter, etc. that was kept on hand to provide lunch for a child whose mother forgot to send one.
The other supplies you may find at daycare centers are things such as diapers, wet wipes, blankets, cleaning supplies such as bleach, and even some spare clothing. You could also find some medications and first aid supplies. Daycare centers keep these things on hand to provide for the children in their care. In some centers parents are required to send in supplies to be kept at the center for their child. All of these will have been abandoned in the chaos.
Nursing home facilities that care for the elderly and the ill will most likely be evacuated or abandoned post-SHTF. Some facilities may be used as shelters for other patients evacuated from smaller facilities. But nursing homes stockpile a lot of supplies to care for their patients that you could use post-SHTF.
At nursing homes, you will find stockpiled food used to feed their patients. In fact, you’ll likely find nutrition packed food such as Ensure, Gatorade, or even Pedialyte that was used to make patients were getting what they needed. In a nursing home you will also find medications (possibly locked up but still there), medical supplies, blankets, sheets, and towels, and even spare clothing left behind when the patients were evacuated.
Restaurants & Coffee Shops
One place that many people may not think to check right away for supplies are abandoned restaurants and coffee shops. These can be a source to find supplies post-SHTF because they stock food to have available to cook and serve their customers during normal times. Sure, some places may choose to try and stay open but cash will run out quickly and customers won’t be able to pay. Staff will want to get home to their families, so many of these locations will be abandoned.
Once inside, find the food storeroom and check their cooler area to see what is still cold. Depending on how long it’s been abandoned, you may find food that is still usable. You’ll also find utensils and other things to cook with if you are on the run. There could be a first aid kit somewhere near the kitchen. Even grabbing several of the tablecloths could come in handy.
One of the places to find supplies post-SHTF will be veterinarian clinics and hospitals. In most cases, these buildings will be abandoned. Hopefully any pets there at the time of impact will have been released or otherwise cared for. And yes, some people will think to check here but not as many as will flock to local pharmacies.
At a vet clinic, the thing you may find are medical supplies and some pharmaceutical grade antibiotics. You can also find old blankets and maybe a first aid kit. Check desk drawers and closets in case the staff kept a small stash of medications for their own use. Look for things like Tylenol, Benadryl, and things most people would keep in their desk or locker at work.
Facilities designed to care for patients who have terminal illnesses and are dying can be one of the places to find supplies. Hospice centers focus on treatments that keep patients comfortable and free of pain. Unfortunately, hospice patients need a lot of care and many of them won’t survive long without someone to look out for them.
Some of these facilities will be abandoned by staff. But hospice staff are dedicated individuals so there may still be at least one staff person who remained to care for the patients. Approach these facilities as a last resort and with the understanding that you likely won’t like what you see inside. You may have to plead your case with a staff person through negotiation or force.
Once inside, look for medications for pain such as morphine, analgesics and steroids. You’ll also find items such as syringes, needles, bandages, medications, antibiotic ointments, gauze, blankets, sheets, and pillows. You should find some food and perhaps some antibiotics.
Health Food Stores
Although health food stores are a place known to have food, they are a specialty store. In the United States, many people won’t think to look for these because they’ve never set foot inside one. They don’t know what’s there and may not even know that a health food store exists in their town or city. This means you won’t be as likely to run into large crowds of people.
Health food stores stock lots of foods that are all natural, healthy, and nutritious as well as vitamin supplements that can be used to augment your diet in the coming weeks and months.
One of the places to find supplies post-SHTF that can be a veritable treasure trove of goodies is your local thrift stores. Believe it or not, some of these will be overlooked by people who are looting. They will focus on chain stores and places with “new” items.
A thrift store can be a great source to find extra clothing, books and furniture to burn for warmth, blankets, a tent, and cookware. In some thrift stores you will also find a hardware section that will have tools, string, duct tape, and other supplies you may need.
There you have it. A whole list of places to find supplies post-collapse that hopefully won’t be crowded with people, won’t have someone lying in wait to ambush you, and won’t be completely picked clean. Regardless of how well you think you have stockpiled supplies, it’s always a good idea to have a map pre-marked with the locations of some of these types of places. The more supplies you have at your disposal, or know how to find quickly, the better your odds of surviving for the long-term.