The Top 12 Things to Disappear from Stores During an Emergency: And Why You Shouldn’t Care

There was a post from Tom Sciacca, owner of the Camping Survival site back in April of 2013 that listed the Top 50 things to disappear from Store shelves during an emergency. This post was compiled from a poll that Camping Survival ran on their Facebook page. In this poll, they asked all their fans what they felt the emergency supplies were that shoppers would swipe up first in an emergency. Tom compiled all the answers, broke them into categories and created this pretty informative list. This list has been reposted on several other blogs and if you are looking for a shopping list of items that people purchase it is a great guide.

In looking at the list though I had another thought and that was with the exception of articles designed for emergency power or light, this shopping list looks just like any other shopping list my wife would make up on any normal day. I am not discounting the work Tom did to create this list, nor am I saying his Facebook fans are wrong. I believe this list is probably very accurate. This got me to my point though and that is we as preppers should never be running to the grocery store during or immediately after a crisis for anything on this list. To us, lists like this shouldn’t matter because during a crisis, my plan is to be home with my kids, not going to the store to pick up some last-minute items.

Tom’s list is broken down into 7 categories (Food, Power and Light, Fun, First Aid, hygiene, babies and Improvisation). I am taking just the top two items from every category except Babies and listing this below. Why not babies you ask? This is a duplicate category I think. Food for babies (Baby Formula) could be counted in the Food section I think and Diapers could be counted in the Hygiene section. Plus, 12 items sounds better than 14, so I have reduced his list down to the top 12 things to disappear from stores during an Emergency.


  • Bread
  • Butter

Power and Light

  • Batteries
  • Candles


  • Alcohol/Beer I combined these two
  • Cigarettes


  • Feminine products
  • Paper Plates/Napkins


  • Duct Tape
  • Plastic Bags

OK, so now we have our list of the top 12 items to disappear from store shelves according to the list compiled from Why should this list change anything about what you do?

This list does a great job of illuminating what people think is most important, but nothing on here is really surprising like I said above. Food is the easiest one to deal with and that is because everyone who is prepping should be working on a minimum of 30 days of stored food in their pantry. I don’t know many storms that have lasted longer than 30 days. What if there is wide-spread destruction you say and the stores are completely wiped out? They certainly wouldn’t be rebuilt and open for business in 30 days. I would agree with that, but in that case, I could argue that you should have 60 days’ worth of food on hand, 6 months would be better and then you wouldn’t have to worry so much about the grocery stores opening again for a relatively short time.

What if there is an economic collapse and nothing opens up ever again? OK, that isn’t quite what we are dealing with in this example, but if that is the case, running to the store for some bread and butter isn’t going to help either is it? Are you going to make wish sandwiches for a week?

As a prepper, your job is to have everything on this list that you care about already stored. That’s the definition of prepared isn’t it? You want to have stored food, gas for your vehicles, sources of alternate power and hygiene items. This list is what the people who haven’t stocked up are going to grab. You should be far away from the stores unless you just want to go downtown and watch some chaos. In my opinion, if you want to be prepared, there is an order to accomplishing that task. This starts with the most basic and common items you need to live on a daily basis and it works outwards from there.

Everyone has to eat every day. This isn’t new or surprising. Common sense would seem to say that food should be something that you already have more than you need to get by on a week to week basis. Stocking up on food should be one if not the first priorities to a prepper. Water is secondary in most cases, because you have to have a little different plan for storing water long-term. Food already has a place in your home so that is easier to expand what you already have. You already go to the store for groceries, just purchase more each time as you are able to.

Batteries and Candles to help you with emergency lighting will last for a very long time so these can be purchased in bulk and stored. No need to run to the store for something you can easily store away in the bottom of a closet. It’s the same thing with duct tape and plastic bags or plastic sheeting. These will store forever so there shouldn’t be a last-minute need to go get anything like this. For plastic sheeting, in the case of roof damage or something severe, I have several rolls of Clear Poly Sheeting stored in my shed in case I need it.

Feminine hygiene products are another item that shouldn’t come as a surprise either. Make sure you have a few months on hand at all times or alternates like a menstrual cup or washable options. My friend Jamie over at Prepared Housewives has an excellent and funny article extolling the virtues of the Diva Cup. This seems to me like the perfect fallback option if you don’t want pads stored to the rafters.

So, what’s the point I am trying to make here? I think preppers look at lists like the Top 50 things as a game. This would be Survival Supermarket Sweep where you, armed with your knowledge of what will disappear first have to go and beat everyone to the most important items. It shouldn’t be like that at all. To win this game, you need to use this list to buy everything you need well in advance of any emergency. If you do that, you will be prepared for most anything.

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P. Henry

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