If you know me at all, you know that I love the dollar store. Like, absolutely love it! My mom got me hooked on the place when I was young, and I go there at least once a week. The hubs even jokes sometimes that I need my “dollar store fix”.

Everyone knows that prepping can be expensive. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! Here is a list of 40 dollar store items that can literally save your life.

  1. Tin foil – aluminum foil can be used to wrap food in to cook, to reflect sunlight into a water bottle for water purification, to make a solar oven, to start a fire,  or to reflect light for a signal. Just make sure it’s heavy duty.
  2. Plastic baggies – plastic sandwich baggies can obviously be used to store your food in, and can also be used to start a fire.
  3. Shower curtains – a plastic shower curtain can be used as a small shelter.
  4. Drop cloths – plastic drop cloths can be used in the same way, to protect you or your gear from the elements.
  5. Duct tape – duct tape has many uses and can be invaluable in an emergency situation, from mending clothes or a tent, to wrapping a sprained ankle.
  6. Electrical tape – electrical tape is also good to mend broken items.
  7. Super glue – same concept here, super glue is very useful to make emergency repairs. I usually find packs of 3 at my local dollar store.
  8. Zip ties – plastic zip ties can be used to secure the afore-mentioned shower curtain or drop cloth to a tree to create a shelter, or can be used as makeshift handcuffs. These come in packages of about 20 at the dollar store.
  9. Bungee cords – like zip ties, bungee cords can be used to hold a shelter in place, or to attach water bottles and such to a bag. The dollar store usually sells small ones in packs of 5.
  10. Sewing kits – these would be great for mending clothes, tents, and bags. Also could be used in a pinch if someone needs stitches.
  11. Safety pins – again, good for holding stuff together as a temporary fix.
  12. Soap – soap is very important for hygiene, which is crucial in emergency situations to avoid getting sick. 3 for a buck!
  13. Wet wipes – another good thing to have on hand to help keep yourself clean.
  14. Hand sanitizer – hand sanitizer kills germs on your hands without water, which helps prevent disease without wasting precious H2O. You can usually get a big bottle or a few small bottles for a dollar.
  15. Batteries – obvious reasons. My dollar store has everything from 8-packs of AA’s to 2-packs of 9-volt’s.
  16. Flashlights – while maybe not the best quality, the dollar store has tons of varieties of flashlights. They work great in a pinch!
  17. Solar lights – since these are solar, you can have some light even without batteries. Very useful if you are limited on batteries.
  18. Glow sticks – another good lighting option. These don’t give off a whole lot, but will provide you with some usable light. I have found up to a 4-pack for a dollar.
  19. Candles – also obvious reasons! Of course the dollar store has hundreds of scented candles, but I’ve also seen 6 hour emergency candles and the tall candles which would be good for providing light for hours on end.
  20. Magnifying glasses – not just for reading small items like maps, magnifying glasses can actually help you start a fire.
  21. Matches – you can get a nice sized box of matches at the dollar store. You could also melt some of the wax from the afore-mentioned candles to dip the matches in to make them waterproof.
  22. Socks – you need socks to keep your feet warm and dry, and to prevent blisters. I’ve seen up to a 3-pack of socks at the dollar store.
  23. Bandanas – bandanas are helpful for creating a makeshift dust mask, or to make a tourniquet.
  24. Dust masks – I’ve found packages of 10 dust masks at my dollar store. In an emergency, these will be useful to keep dust and debris out of your mouth and lungs.
  25. Dental floss – in addition to getting stuff unstuck from your teeth, floss an be used as thread to make repairs, or as fishing line.
  26. Chapstick – not just for vanity, chapstick can prevent your lips from painfully sunburned or chapped.
  27. Maxi pads – for more than the obvious, maxi pads can be like super-absorbent gauze pads. You can get a pack of 10 for a buck.
  28. Tampons – obvious reasons aside, you can also use tampons to control bleeding in deep wounds (think gunshots).
  29. Elastic bandages – these are perfect to use in case of injury to a wrist, ankle, knee, etc. Elastic bandages can also be used to wrap around a gauze pad to control bleeding.
  30. Bandaids – ’nuff said!
  31. Ankle, wrist, and knee supports – yes, they even have these at my dollar store! Great for stashing in your medical kit in case of injury.
  32. OTC medications – I always buy these at the dollar store. Since they are controlled by the FDA, the ingredients and dosages are the same as the higher-priced name brands at other stores. Where else can you get cold medicine for a buck?
    • Ibuprofen
    • Cold medicine
    • Anti-diarrheal medicine
    • Allergy medicine
  33. Rubbing alcohol – may be necessary to sterilize equipment or wounds.
  34. Hydrogen peroxide – also necessary to clean wounds.
  35. Bleach – bleach is good for sanitizing cooking areas, sterilizing equipment, or purifying water.
  36. Disinfecting wipes – also good for sanitizing cooking areas, without needing water to rinse.
  37. Food – the dollar store has lots of non-perishable food that is excellent to have in your emergency kit.
    • Canned meat
    • Soups
    • Trail mix
    • Granola bars
    • Crackers
    • Dried fruit
    • Nuts and seeds
  38. Drinks – okay, maybe not a necessity, but something that is nice to have in the event of an emergency! The dollar store has tea, coffee, and all kinds of drink packets that you mix with water.
  39. Cooking utensils – what good is food if you have no way to cook it?
  40. Vegetable seeds – my dollar store also has a large variety of vegetable seeds, and they are usually 4 for a dollar! Usually their best selection is during the early spring, so if you want a great deal on seeds to grow your own food, check the dollar store first.



There you have it, 40 Dollar Store items that could save your life. Do you have any to add to the list? Please share in the comments!

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  1. Hi Shawnee,
    I really like you tips. some excellent ideas I am visiting you from Natural LIving Bloggers Helping Each Other. I was pinning your article and reading- just had to let you know how much I liked it.

    1. Thank you, Marla! I really appreciate the support!

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