This list was posted in a thread on the boards mid 2005, but I think it's a good topic to revisit.
100 Items That Disappear First in a Disaster
Link: List of survival materials for the post oil situation
I tend to focus on things that wont run out. An unbreakable shovel with a fiberglass handle, axe, cast iron dutch ovens & a folding camp grill, a magnifying glass (starting fires), plastic water barels, heirloom seeds, etc. then stock up on things that will run out: matches, ammo, razors, tooth paste & brushes, shoes, jeans, soap, blankets etc.
(Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance, etc.)
I don't like how their list starts with high costs items like generators. It doesn't matter if they go off the shelves quickly, so do play-stations (if there's looting). It's a fun list, but what's really important is what you need to survive. And the basics for survival doesn't require a warehouse and thousands of dollars investment.
There are many people who live on less then a dollar a day, learn from them. A more humble list of things to have during a crisis: 1.
Means for boiling water, a pot and three stones works well enough. 2.
Cooking oil: It's common item that clears off shelves fast, it adds calories to anything, even clay/oil cookies
and has many other uses like light and heat. 3.
Human comforts: like Razorblades, toiletries and prophylactics. Things that make people "feel human again" are very popular during crisis. 4.
Garbage Bags and plastics: are light and often useful. Rice bags or garden fabric are useful for building sandbag structures. 5.
Clothing related: Woolen clothing or synthetic fleece, a little bug netting can mean a good night sleep. 6.
Some seeds for next years garden, a little bit of hope. 7.
Some means for trade if the ATM is down or not as useful as it used to be. If you have the ability, hedging your bets is probably the best way to go. Cash is useful for local disaster such as hurricane prone areas. When most people only have credit cards, cash is king. Metals may be a good long term bet, it worked for pirates. And Alcohol was a common trade item in the soviet collapse, being portable, valuable and desirable during difficult times.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats and Slingshots
Regarding Firearms, they mention this in their list as something high up in importance. It may be and it may not be, I think that depends on the situation. They are right that it may be difficult to get firearms during a crisis, but do you need them? If so, sure it would make sense to prepare ahead of time.
I think the need for firearms really depends on the type of crisis you're expecting and how you're going to react to it. In total anarchy, perhaps they would be useful in restoring order. After a hurricane, maybe if you're expecting looting. They have their purpose, though guns can also make you a target too.
Economic collapse is a possibility a lot of people here think about. So how do guns factor in if the crisis is a collapsed economy? The Soviet Union Collapsed many years ago, so I think they are probably a good example of what to expect during an economic and government collapse.
Present day, you can walk around old soviet satellite countries without a gun. Most people in these countries that collapsed don't walk around with guns. And even during the collapse itself, how useful was a gun in a breadline? Obviously there were plenty of soviet thugs with guns that used them in their endeavors, as well as a great need for legitimate security during those times as well. Guns certainly played a part in the reformation during those times. But for the average Joe, boiled water was probably more important.
So regarding guns, I think the importance of guns really depends on what you're expecting. If you're expecting zombie attack, they would be a high priority. If you're preparing for economic collapse, then they would be a lower priority. Depends on the situation you're expecting, but definitely below priorities like clean drinking water.
Link: What to expect if the US faces collapse
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
I like 48, it's a good observation that garbage cans with wheels are good for moving things other then garbage. They are low-key, useful for everyday uses, storing all sorts of things and can even float. Not a critical survival item, but a good observation.