Where to Find Supplies After SHTF

September 23, 2014 by | 8 Comments

When the SHTF, preppers will be far more prepared than the average citizen, but over a long enough timeline, even the most prepared among us will run out of supplies or have a crucial piece of equipment break.

Since few of us want to spend the rest of our lives walking around in a loin cloth eating grubs, knowing where to to find supplies to make our lives more comfortable and easier can be a valuable bit of information.

Obvious sources like grocery stores or home improvement stores will be wiped out almost immediately. Some sources of supplies may may not be viable under certain circumstances, depending on the disaster you’re facing, so you’ll need to evaluate how much you really need what you’re looking for.

  • You can find all sorts of goodies in office buildings. If there is still electrical power, you can raid the refrigerators, and even the smallest offices I’ve worked in had at least a few 5-gallon jugs for the water dispenser on hand. Larger offices usually have first aid supplies and fire extinguishers.
  • Amusement parks will have food, water, first aid supplies, and tools.
  • Manufacturing facilities will be a wealth of fuel, batteries, tools, first aid supplies, and likely food and water.
  • Restaurants may be looted quickly, but it’s worth checking out anyway.  If the power is out, skip the freezers/coolers and look for dried goods like beans, rice, and pasta. Canned goods are another option.
  • Pawn shops are hit or miss, but can be a good source of tools, weapons, and gold and silver.
  • Feed supply stores will usually be overlooked, but if you’re starving, animal feed could provide enough nutrition while you search for tastier choices.
  • You can find food, water, first aid supplies, tools, and even clothing at schools.
  • If your local fire station has been abandoned, you can find plenty of first aid supplies, tools, and water—the fire engine has a main tank with tens of thousands of gallons of water. Just be sure to filter it, because it may be filled with reclaimed, or grey water.
  • Trucking facilities may have large quantities of food, but you should limit yourself to non-perishable foods like rice, pasta, beans, and canned goods.
  • Marinas and the boats stored inside are usually not very secure. You may be able to find canned goods, emergency rations, communication equipment, and fishing equipment. Most larger boats have signal flares, and many people keep firearms on-board.
  • Pet stores can be another source of food, including the pet food, and if your survival depends on it, the pets. The same goes for horse stables and dog kennels. You can also find first-aid supplies, and if you know what you’re looking for, antibiotics.
  • Self-storage units can be an excellent source of all sorts of things, but it’s a bit of a crap shoot. The odds are in your favor, though, since there are usually hundreds of units per location.
  • Abandoned homes will probably have been looted already, however, each one contains 30-75 gallons of of clean water in the water heater. Unless there is a widespread water contamination that occurred several days earlier, that water is almost certainly safe to drink, but it’s always wise to filter it anyway.
  • Zoos can be another source of food, but enter armed and with caution in case any animals have escaped. I don’t know about you, but while everyone else is fighting over canned tomatoes at the local Dominoes Pizza, I’ll be gutting a Cape Buffalo and enjoying a juicy steak.
  • Abandoned vehicles can be scavenged for supplies as well as batteries and fuel.

Let our readers know in the comments where else you would look to find the supplies you need to survive during a disaster.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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  • I’d that a big find at marinas and boat storage locations is fuel — usually gasoline, but you may find a diesel boat. Marina gas/diesel is essentially the same gas/diesel as used in cars and trucks. It would be a great find, and boat tanks are not small. It’s not uncommon to have a 25 -to-over 100 gallon tank on a marina boat — and the fuel filler pipes are large, which makes for easy syphoning.

    Another location for fuel is airports — the small ones with private/corporate size planes (the airliner size airports may still be guarded).
    Piston aircraft use a fuel called 100LL (low lead) — but unfortunately the lead content is about 4 times that in normal car gasoline. It would run fine in older cars that do not have catalytic convertors, but would likely plug up a convertor rapidly, or could cause some of the electronic sensors in the emissions system to fail on newer cars. Of course in a SHTF situation, one could always cut off the convertor if it fails.
    But 100LL will work fine in about all small motors like gen sets, chain saws, etc.
    If one runs across a small turbine powered, or small jet aircraft, the fuel in their tanks will be Jet-A, which is a close cousin to kerosene and diesel, and will work in devices that require diesel or kerosene. But be advised the exhaust or fumes from combustion will smell differently when Jet-A is being used
    And airplanes have big tanks — 50 to 150 gal or more, and are likely to be full, becauses planes are most often refueled after each flight to keep water from condensing in the tank. The fuel filler opening is large, and is usually located on top of the wing (most often there are 2 tanks)

  • teotwawkiandifeelfine says:

    I FEEL that pawn shops are a bad idea. Most are run by people who know and use the guns that are pawned or they have security. On the bigger ones, unless my BOL was full, I’d stay there with family – tools, gold, entertainment, a few weapons not in use.

    Hmmm, now you got me thing about those big red rigs – add some protection to the vehicle, it could make for real profits when things go bang. “We bring the water to you!”

    I agree that if the crime wave I think is coming doesn’t, the self storage units can be a prize. Then again, I know of people living in them now. Just be prepared for anything, anything in them. If you lock the doors from inside and cut through the walls, it could be an interesting BOL. Bring the fire truck and stuff from the pawn shop, your own power..round here, you’ve got a prime setup. AND they are pretty fireproof, well the all metal ones.

    I would figure a number of the single rig drivers will encircle the truck stops at least when WROL starts. Showers, food, fuel, snacks. Maybe we should bring the boat on a trailer behind the firetruck and camp out there!

  • John Maines says:

    It couldn’t hurt to hunt either. If you haven’t had much luck with finding canned goods or other non-perishable foods, then why not take out a squirrel and have a hot meal.

  • Chris says:

    As a firefighter your information is a severe overestimation. The engine I ride, a 2012 Quality Spartan only holds 500 gallons. This is the norm for most engines with some but not many holding closer to 1000. Tankers usually hold a few thousand gallons but are only common in more rural, usually volunteer departments. How this helps.

  • Trish says:

    Unless people know what to do with things in the big box stores, most of the good stuff for preppers will more than likely be left behind like canning supplies, pressure cookers, batteries, tools, etc. Maybe even storage containers. If it’s not food, clothes, shoes or drinks of any kind it may be left behind. Of course, they may take the rest of it for barter/trade.
    Movie theaters would be a source of snacks and drinks.
    Bakeries would be a source for flour, powdered eggs, and other goodies to make bread, pancakes, and cakes with.
    Hardware stores have things that you would need for making your home secure (plywood, nails, tools, etc) plus other things that you might need like chains, tarps and bungee cords. Not much food or beverages though. I think some of the big box hardware stores may also carry some canning supplies like the jars and lids.
    Auto supply stores and mechanics shops are good sources for batteries (solar/wind generator), tools, etc. Some carry snacks and drinks for their customers.
    Garden shops would have seeds for growing your food and herb garden, plus fruit trees, soil, manure, compost and fertilizers. Tools, hoses, barrels, and other things for growing a garden. Most carry gloves, hats, and the plastic gardening shoes, though they may not have a lot on hand.
    Farm supply stores would be a place to look for batteries, barbed wire fencing, chains, metal posts, hoses, seeds, tools, horse blankets, gloves, shoes and clothing. Some may carry water barrels and small plastic ponds.
    If I had to, a library would be a source of fuel if you are really desperate to keep warm. You also might find someone’s lunch and a drink or two.

    • Robin says:

      or, in the library, there would be books on survival that you can take, read, learn from and put that knowledge to use. That information could, possibly in turn be traded for other supplies.

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