15 Survival Items That Will Sell Out in a Major Crisis

The best time to get prepared for a crisis is well before the crisis actually occurs. The second best time to get prepared for a crisis is right now.

Experience has taught us all that many common items necessary for survival will seemingly vanish into thin air as soon as trouble strikes, with panicked throngs of shoppers crowding the stores to pick the shelves clean.

hygiene-items-on-pantry-shelveshampoo shower gel mouthwash toothpaste etc
hygiene items on pantry shelves: shampoo, shower gel, mouthwash, toothpaste, moisturizing cream, lip balm, deodorant sticks

You don’t want to be among them if you have any choice in the matter, so whether you are just getting into prepping or have simply deferred gathering the supplies and provisions then it is time to step on it.

Many of the items you take for granted as being found on every store shelf in the land at any given time are only available thanks to a carefully coordinated and scheduled system of deliveries designed to replenish them as they are purchased. The moment that system breaks down the shelves will be barren.

In this article, we’re going to share with you 15 survival items that will sell out instantly at the onset of any crisis or disaster.

Chances are good that you should prioritize your purchasing accordingly, ahead of time or not. It will be too late to get them later on so do not delay!

The Clock is Ticking

Even if you are fortunate enough that you have never lived through what would be described as a major disaster or other societal crisis, you have still probably experienced a taste of panic buying.

For those of us who live in areas not typically prone to freezing conditions, such an event might be an approaching snowstorm or blizzard. If you live on the coast it might be the arrival of hurricane season or the threat of a storm morphing into a hurricane.

Have you ever gone to the grocery or hardware store at such a time? It never fails that the parking lot will be jam-packed, the carts are all in use, the aisles are clogged and the lines at the cash wrap are backed way, way up.

You are witnessing panic buying in action, even though everyone is telling themselves they are buying “just in case”.

It is appalling how quickly stores will sell out of any given product or goods in so short a time. There is hardly any upstock or backstock to speak of in stores anymore, and so what you see on the shelves is pretty much all there is in the store, period.

If you are unfortunate enough to be counted among these last-minute shoppers or are just a sudden minutes-to-midnight prepping convert, you will need to make tracks and get these items ASAP before you are left high, dry, and out of luck.

15 Survival Items that Will Sell Out in a Major Crisis

1. Gasoline

It is obvious why gasoline is so high up on the necessities list for survival, being a vital fuel source both for the vast majority of automobiles, and also for gasoline power tools that might become very important for cleanup and extrication efforts in the aftermath of a disaster.

Readers who live in areas typically affected by hurricanes are no doubt already very familiar with the rush to fill up vehicles and spare tanks with gas that always occurs when a storm threatens.

You would be wise to keep your vehicles above a half-tank at all times, and wiser still to fill up your vehicle and a spare can or two the very moment you have any notice that a crisis is brewing.

The longer you wait the longer you will have to wait, in line, at the pump assuming any gas remains and you should also know that gasoline supply lines are far more fragile than you might think.

red 10 liter Jerry petrol can
red 10 liter Jerry petrol can

2. Propane

Propane is another fuel source that is very important in survival situations, but this is one that many preppers tragically overlook.

Most of us think of propane as a fuel source for our furnace or gas cooktops or perhaps our outdoor propane grill, but it is also critical for operating a variety of portable heaters and other equipment.

Unless you live in a rural area where houses have large tanks installed on the property, there is not likely to be very much propane easily accessible, in quantity, at any one time in your area.

This means you must act fast to secure a tank or two if you plan on using your grill, a heater, or any other device that runs off propane as a fuel source.

Even if you have other ways of cooking, don’t discount the reliability, and convenience of an on-demand heat that propane can provide with the right devices.

3. Bottled Water

Pure, bottled water for drinking is one survival necessity that seemingly everyone understands, and that means you’ll have pretty much everyone dashing to grab however much they can when trouble is looming.

Water is a critically important resource for survival, second only to air, so you’ll want to make sure you too have a large supply.

Though seasoned preppers will have redundant plans for sourcing and purifying water in order to make it safe to drink, you can hardly beat the convenience and certainty of factory-sourced and sealed bottled drinking water.

If you are buying water “late in the game” you probably cannot afford to be choosy when it comes to size, brand, and type.

Whether you can get distilled water, spring water, or purified water, it makes no difference in the short term as they are all far safer than drinking from a suspect or compromised water source.

4. Food

Food is not nearly as pressing a necessity for survival as water is, but it is still undeniably a necessity.

Though the vast majority of folks can go for weeks without food before they starve, you’ll be living a nightmare long before that, and your mental and physical fitness will both suffer terribly if you are not regularly consuming calories.

cans of peanut butter on pantry shelves
cans of peanut butter on pantry shelves

Keeping your energy up and your spirits high will be important for surviving a crisis, and that means you need a reliable food source.

Your best bets for disaster preparation (and subsequently the kinds of food that will be scarfed up first by panicked shoppers) are going to be anything that is easy to prepare, shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration.

Think items that come freeze-dried, in cans, in pouches and so forth. Your first stop should probably be the soup and veggie aisle, and then whatever section has canned meats, chili, and things like that.

5. Hygiene Products

Believe it or not many untrained people worry about getting the things they need to keep clean and fresh before they worry about things that will keep them alive on a day-to-day basis.

Hopefully you aren’t one of them, but even so, it is still a good idea to grab the necessary hygiene products that will help keep your body clean.

No surprises here; you should be thinking of the items you use in your morning and evening rituals. Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, foot powder, and so forth should all go on the list.

Ladies should also pick up (or you should pick up for any ladies in your life) pads and tampons. If any folks in your home have health problems or are just getting older consider grabbing specialized items like denture adhesive, adult diapers and things of that nature.

6. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is on everybody’s mind after the latest pandemic scare, and though it is nominally available by the gallon in kinder times you can rest assured that, going forward in the 21st century, people will snap this stuff up with little provocation and that means you should too.

This is with good reason, as hand sanitizer is a powerful germ-killing agent that works even with the total absence of soap and water, making it perfect for impromptu decontamination or staying clean on the go when you don’t have easy access to running water and hand soap.

If you can you should obtain smaller, portable bottles that you can refill from a larger one.

7. Soap

Soap, as you might expect, is an important resource for keeping both your hands, body and other surfaces clean. This is not just crucial for good health, but also to improve attitudes.

If you have time to wash off and smell fresh no matter what the situation is you’re going to have a slightly better outlook, in addition to keeping germs at bay that might progress into serious conditions.

You should get any kind of soap that you can when the pressure is on, but otherwise you don’t need to be too picky. You can use almost any kind of soap for any purpose even if it isn’t optimized for it.

Hand soap works fine on your body and can also be used to clean surfaces. Likewise, you can use bar soap on your whole body, your hands, and for general cleaning chores.

storing stockpiles under the sink
Canned food (in metal cans or glass jars), water, oil and much more can be stashed away under the kitchen sink).

8. Bleach

Bleach is a superstar prep, and not just on laundry day. Bleach is a phenomenally powerful disinfectant and germ-killer capable of wiping out microorganisms and mass.

Though this has obvious utility for keeping your home, your equipment, and in certain cases even your hands totally disinfected bleach has an additional and some might argue even more important use.

When you take regular, unscented bleach and add it to a suspect water source and the correct ratio it will kill all the germs in the water making it safe for you to drink.

In fact, it takes only a little more than a few drops to disinfect an entire gallon of sketchy water so long as you follow the correct procedures. This is even more remarkable considering how inexpensive bleach is. Make sure you grab a couple of gallons to keep on hand.

9. Toilet Paper/Baby Wipes

Toilet paper is now one of those everyday commodities that we have all learned to fear running out of thanks to the great pandemic scare. You should always keep a goodly supply on hand lest you run out.

pack of baby wipes
pack of baby wipes

Though it is true improvising something that you can wipe your butt with if you are all out of toilet paper is not the most difficult task in the world you’ll be a lot happier if you never have to do so.

This could all be avoided if you stock up on toilet paper now, while you can, and while you’re at it grab several large packages of baby wipes.

The baby wipes will come in handy when you don’t have reliable access to running water, and they also work great as impromptu sponge baths between proper scrubs.

10. Baby Needs

If you have a baby or a toddler you will discover that they are even more dependent during a crisis.

Though no good parent needs to be reminded of all the many things their baby needs, you do need to be reminded of just how voraciously the in-stock baby products in a store will be consumed when things are looking scary.

You should take the time to grab all the baby supplies you could conceivably need, and a few that you can’t conceive of needing.

Grab the basics, of course, like diapers, formula, changing pads and so forth but also grab a variety of baby medicines, food, rash creams and powder. There isn’t as much as you think out there so act quickly.

11. Disposable Gloves

Everybody is naturally more concerned about germs these days, but even if you aren’t or the crisis event you are facing is not germ-centric you would still be wise to grab a couple of packs of disposable gloves.

In the middle of a crisis, we will not have access to our typically swift and efficient medical providers as normal, and that means even cursory illnesses or infections could take on a severe new aspect under the circumstances.

You probably cannot afford to get sick in the middle of a desperate situation, so you can cut down the chance of that happening by gloving up whenever you are handling anything of unknown provenance or something that is decidedly nasty.

Sure, you can always wash your hands if you have sanitizer or soap (like we recommended), but you’ll be a lot better off if the germs never make it to your skin in the first place!

12. Masks

Masks are another item of personal protective equipment that are valuable in all kinds of scenarios, not just ones of a virological or bacteriological nature.

Anytime there are airborne hazards like dust, smoke, mold or other substances you want to do the best you can to keep those out of your lungs.

Once again, owing to our now germ-phobic culture, your fellow shoppers will be snapping up anything that can protect their airway, or anything they think can protect their airway, and rapidly.

You can choose the simple folding dust masks that are currently popular, but a much better option if you can get it is a half-face respirator that seals tightly and relies on disposable cartridges for filtration.

These do a far better job than any paper mask. You can usually find them at most hardware stores or in the paint aisle of major department stores.

13. Liquor

It might surprise you, but there are plenty of people who know they are going to be knee-deep in the suck at the onset of a crisis, and they will seize the initiative to gather supplies that will help them numb the pain, specifically their vice of choice.

One of the most popular is alcohol, hard liquor in particular. I am not recommending that you do the same thing, as lurching around in stupor does nothing to help your survival chances, but you should grab a few handles of choice swill to use as trade fodder if nothing else.

There are some people that will be so desperate to forget the predicament they are in, or so despondent, that they will do almost anything to relax.

If you have what they desperately want you can part with it in a major “value-add” proposition. If worse comes to worst, the most potent liquors can be used as accelerants or disinfectants.

14. Ammunition

Times of trouble usually mean an increase in the number of thugs over time, and when things get so bad that law enforcement is operating at a reduced capacity, or even totally neutralized, you can be sure that the worst elements of society will bob to the surface and begin to prey on their fellow man.

Whatever they might say, whatever their politics, everybody understands this instinctively, and that is why you will always see a rush on gun counters and sporting goods departments prior to a crisis.

If you have a firearm, you must have ammunition or it will do you no good, because obviously. You would be wise to have a sizable stockpile of ammunition ahead of time, but if you don’t you need to get at least a few boxes as quickly as humanly possible.

When the pressure is on don’t worry too much about preferred load, projectile or anything like that. Simply grab the highest quality ammo you can.

15. Batteries

There are all kinds of battery powered devices and gadgets you will want to keep running during an emergency, and not the least among them or your flashlights, headlamps, electric lanterns, and emergency radios.

AA batteries and charger
AA batteries and charger

Across all domains, quite a few natural disasters and many other man-made events can result in brownouts or total blackouts, and that means you and yours will be plunged into darkness and cut off from typical forms of communication.

Then you will have to rely on your battery-powered devices more than ever and I can promise you that they are far hungrier than you might expect! Heavy usage schedules will mean you’ll be going through batteries like candy, so you had better stock up. Everyone else will be, too.


No matter where you are, no matter what’s happening you can be assured that panicked populations will stampede stores to get the things they think they need to survive what is coming.

Many basic survival essentials will vanish from shelves in a frighteningly short period of time, and it is critical that you have these items on hand before that point or at the very least prioritize their acquisition when time is of the essence.

sold-out survival gear Pinterest image

10 thoughts on “15 Survival Items That Will Sell Out in a Major Crisis”

  1. hi dan, like your suggestions, cant believe what we’re living right now, seems like a scifi movie….anyway… questions:
    1. is there a way to get propane out of a large tank (used for the fireplace) if needed? have 1 tank in 2 grills, 2 extra filled tanks at all times
    2. is there a way to use a saltwater pool for a water source? if so, how?

    thanks appreciate an answer, take care

    1. A propane fireplace is the biggest waste of fuel. I know about that option.
      Opt. for a smaller room and get a Mr. Heater to warm it. You can use 20, 40 and 100 pound tanks with the right hoses.
      No electric required for it to work.

    2. On our propane tank (500 gallon) it was going to cost $400 to have the tank with the filler for smaller tanks. We opted to just refill the tanks at the propane providers shop.

  2. Johnny Crumpton

    Whiskey mixed with honey and lemon is also a very good and potent cold medicine that you can make for yourself if necessary…

  3. There is a special port on large propane tanks for filling smaller tanks. It requires a special valve, hose, and fittings as well as training. See your local propane dealer that fills your tank.

    Salt water can be distilled to use as drinking.

  4. Great list, I’m glad you added ammo. Too many sites ignore it completely.
    For those of us who are a bit long in the tooth, I would add:
    – A few extra pairs of reading glasses
    – Keep your dental health current with 2x/yr visits to the dentist. I’d hate to be in a WROL society with bad dental problems. A dentist who is still working in such a situation could demand very high prices, which would mean parting with a large part of your stockpile
    – Extra prescription meds
    – I think one of the items that I’m going to prioritize for stockpiling is coffee. While not as potent as liquor, there’s bound to be a huge demand for everybody’s favorite morning beverage.

    I’m ambiguous about spending money for a generator. Sure it would be great to have power but can you store enough fuel to make it worth the cost? So far I’ve resisted the temptation, thinking that I’d just bite the bullet and live like the 1800s if I had to. I think if I spring for a power supply I’ll go for a solar/rechargeable generator. Actually what would be perfect is a small wind-powered generator. Is there such a thing as a suburban-style windmill?

    1. Our travel trailer was sold to us with a Honda generator. We’ve used it in short power outages to keep our freezer/frig running. It’s worth it to have for the small outages.

  5. Good article! Regarding Item #15 (batteries), flashlights that require only one battery will be quite valuable. Likely you’ll always be able to scare up some kind of batteries from some device or other — kid’s toys, toothbrushes, carving knives, doorbells, the TV remote, etc. But will you have a flashlight that can use what you find? Here’s a link to an article listing cheap flashlights by brand and part number that will operate on just about any battery you locate. And make that ONE battery. One D-cell. One AA. One AAA. Etc. The listing starts at 2:18 so you can skip the brouhaha. Worth a look. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv7Bx6usT-g

  6. You can hook up a automobile generator to an exercise bike and charge 12-volt batteries with it. Store the power in the batteries. Use it direct from the batteries for light bulbs (bulbs of the correct voltage, etc.) OR put the 12-volt DC juice thru an inverter and convert it for use in 110-volt AC appliances (radios, etc.). I believe this was fairly common (in previous generations) in the Australian outback.

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