The coronavirus pandemic taught many of us that there’s still truth to that Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Many people who didn’t have a just-in-case stash of bathroom tissue regretted it, as toilet paper disappeared from shelves at many suddenly picked-over stores.
TP or not TP, there are plenty of other items that are just good to have on hand. Sure, usually you can make a store trip on short notice, but not always. Bad weather, natural disasters, product shortages and just plain sudden needs pop up all the time. Check over this list of good-to-have-on-hand items — similar to our list of “26 Things Everyone Should Keep in Their Car.”
1. First aid kit
Of course, if someone’s really hurt, call 911. But minor cuts and scrapes usually just need to be cleaned and bandaged, and you don’t need to be a doctor to tend to those yourself.
2. Flashlights and lanterns
Whether you need to hunt behind a dark couch for a dropped phone or the power’s gone out and your whole house is dark, make sure you have a portable light source handy.
3. Extra batteries
Remote controls, portable radios, children’s toys — all of these things and more require batteries. Keep a mixed group of different sizes in an easily accessible container so you can quickly snap out the dead batteries and pop in new ones.
4. Canned food
You don’t need to be prepped to feed an army but stash away some extra canned soup, beans, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars. You also might want to toss in an extra can opener, just in case. If a blizzard or a bad storm traps you inside, at least you’ll be well-fed.
5. Fire extinguisher
More than likely, you won’t have a major house fire, but keep a small fire extinguisher on hand just in case. A paper towel sitting too close to your stove burner can go up like a rocket, and you’ll be happy you were prepared.
6. A plunger for every bathroom
Plungers may not be the most glamorous purchase you can make, but when you need one, you need one. Don’t just move one around from bathroom to bathroom; have one permanently stationed in each. Any future house guests or visitors will thank you.
7. Drain-clog remover
Ever stood in the shower and noticed the water starting to pool around your feet? It might be time to call a plumber for a pricey repair, or it might just be a hair clog that a simple glug of Drano can solve. Have some clog remover on hand, then cross your fingers and hope it’s the latter.
8. Matches or a lighter
Fewer people smoke nowadays, but sometimes, you still need a quick snap of fire, whether to light a pilot light, build a fire in the fireplace, or present a birthday cake. Thankfully, a lighter or matches don’t take up much storage space, and they’re both cheap.
9. Extra pillows and blankets
Unexpected overnight guests need bedding, whether it’s your teen daughter’s pal or your in-laws settling in for a holiday weekend. You don’t need to stock an entire linen closet, but a few extra blankets and pillows are always appreciated.
10. Extra toothbrushes
And speaking of unexpected overnight guests … a toothbrush is the one item you just can’t lend them for a night. Too personal! Fortunately, it’s inexpensive to stash a few in a bathroom drawer just in case.
11. Phone and laptop chargers
Cellphones and laptops are a vital part of our modern world, but they’re useless without a charge. Charging cords are easy to lose and sometimes split or fray – usually at the time when you really need to get something done. Keep extras on hand.
12. Snow shovel
If you live anywhere it snows, you know this already. Even a light snowfall can block your sidewalk and make moving around difficult, especially for older neighbors. Keep a shovel handy, and maybe offer to shovel their walk too.
13. Tape measure
Measuring tape has always been useful. Whether you need to measure a window before ordering curtains or your living room to see if that plush new couch will fit, you’ll find yourself reaching for a tape measure.
14. Pot holders or oven mitts
You don’t need to be a chef to rely on a good pot holder or oven mitt. Whether you’re baking a frozen pizza or whipping up a fancy cake, that food item needs to come out of the oven, and it’s going to be hot. Protect your hands.
15. Broom and dustpan
Brooms and dustpans aren’t just for general sweeping. Cats scatter their kitty litter, kids drop boxes of cereal, drinking glasses sometimes slip and shatter sharp shards all over the kitchen floor. There’s just nothing that can replace a solid broom and dustpan to sweep up a million varied messes.
16. Small ladder or stepstool
You don’t need a giant painter’s ladder. But sometimes, it’s just so helpful to have a small, safe boost in height, whether to change a light bulb in a ceiling fixture or dig that Thanksgiving platter out of the cabinet atop the fridge. It’s too unnerving (and unsafe) to wobble around on a dining-room chair.
17. Flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers
Even if you’re no handyman, there are times when you’ll need both versions of these basic screwdrivers. Appliances, remote controls, toys — many of them feature battery compartments that need to be opened. And other items need to be assembled. Throw a basic hammer in there, too, for picture-hanging and other small chores.