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In a disaster, many supplies can potentially become hard to find.  If you plan ahead carefully, you can have enough for your own needs as well as some on hand to trade with others.  These 10 items are useful to have on hand for bartering in an emergency. The list is based off “What Will Be Scarce in a Disaster” by Mary Ann Romans, research and my own ideas.

1. Water and Purification Supplies

Water is the basis of life itself. People can last for a while without food, but can go only a few days without water. You can stock some of the liquid itself or basic supplies like purification tablets or water filters.

2. Basic Food

Another requirement, of course, is food. You need to be able to keep your strength up and Calculate how much your own family will need across the different food groups and then purchase a little extra for trading.  Check the dates yearly and rotate as needed.

3. Treats

Many people have current habits and desires that you could take advantage of when it comes to bartering.  For example, millions of people have coffee or tea daily.  I know that I feel like I NEED to have something sweet daily, as do many others, so you could stock up on chocolate, sugar and other sweets.

4. Shoes

In an emergency the ground around us may become especially dangerous from broken metal, fallen buildings and other pitfalls.  People may have had to flee without being able to grab shoes or had them wear out. Even cheap flip flops can be better than walking around barefoot.

5. Seeds

Seeds can be an important bartering tool since they are a way to produce your own food even after the current supply has been depleted.  For optimal results, choose ones that are open pollinated, as this will allow you to save seeds year after year. You can store a large quantity of different varieties in a relatively small space.  Make sure they are kept somewhere that is cool, dark and dry.  eFoods sells a Survival Seeds Vault that contains 20 different varieties of seeds.


Ideally you should choose emergency supplies that do not require batteries like hand-cranked radios and shake flashlights.  Other people may not have had this foresight and find themselves needing batteries. I see deals for large quantities of them on sites like and Amazon.

7. Fire Starting Supplies

Fire is important for warmth and cooking. Someone can also use it to produce a smoke signal if needed. You can buy extras of items like matches, firewood and flint to trade with others in need.

8. Toilet Paper

Think about it.  How many people are used to taking care of their toileting needs without using toilet paper? This little luxury can prove to be useful as a trading item.  Use coupons and sales to stock up as cheaply as possible.

9. First Aid Supplies

Unfortunately, many people may become injured during an emergency.  Basic supplies like bandages and aspirins can help treat injuries and comfort those in need.

10. Skills  

Skills are not tangible items, of course, but they are invaluable when it comes to bartering.  People will be willing to trade for help that they cannot or will not do themselves.  For instance, skills that I possess include gardening, cooking, fishing and basic sewing.

What Will Become Scarce in a Disaster”?, Mary Ann Romans, eFoods Blog, July 22, 2013

Disaster Kit Bartering Items“, Mary Bodel MH, Yahoo! Voices, October 2, 2012

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