Some things are fine to buy when you need them, but a lot of things are a lot handier to already have on hand—and some are practically essential.

Anyone who has had to trudge to the pharmacy for cold medicine when they have the flu will tell you they wished they'd had some at home already.

Reddit user IHaveGotQuestions asked:

"What is your best example of 'buy it before you need it'?"

Epi Pen

"Epi pen"


"(Pharmacist here) One of the most obscene things about the recent price-gouging is that this is an item that people purchase because they hope they never need it."


"What's worse is that they expire within a year. Then you can't find anywhere that will dispose of the expired, unused ones-at least in my area. My mom has tried and tried to find a way to get rid of her old ones."


Fire Extinguisher

"fire extinguisher"


"The only annoying this is they expire… usually before you need them!"


"you also have to shake them once a year I shake mine every July 4th"



"Toilet plunger"


"Back in college my roommate lent his plunger to the girls next door. It was more than an hour later till they came back back with a brand new plunger. We asked what happened and she said they broke the plunger. We were surprised at the idea of breaking a plunger but we happily took the new plunger they bought for us."

"They also told us that the cashier was very confused when they were at checkout with 2 plungers."


"First thing I thought of. I've had friends who don't own a plunger and I'm like WTF?"

"Maybe you never use it, but that's one thing you do not want to have to go purchase in the moment of need."

"Also had a roommate who didn't want to keep the plunger in the bathroom (we didn't have a cabinet or closet in the room, she thought it was an eyesore to have it visible) and I was insistent because if you have a guest over who ends up needing it, the last thing they are going to want to do is come ask you where the plunger is.

"Best to have it accessible for anyone who might need it."


Jumper Cables

"Car emergency kit. Jumper cables, fix a flat, spare tire, Jack, basic first aid kit, road reflectors.

"Edit: fire extinguisher us a good idea to add, as well as the rechargeable "jump start yourself" pack."

"And a plug kit vs fix-a-flat is a good idea. I've never done a plug, so I'd have to catch up there myself. Air compressor for refilling the tire also."

"Some food/heat if you live somewhere where it could logically be a problem. A box of protein bars and some way to make a fire, blankets, etc..."

"I'm never that far off the beaten path that it would be an issue for me, but for anyone who is, makes sense."

"And, damn, how many people have had dad's who used jumper cables as a belt?"


CO Detector

"Carbon Monoxide detector"


"And a good one. I was in a small two-floor apartment building during a major early snow storm in which we lost power for days."

"My neighbors, being dumb as a box of rocks and cold from 0 degree temps, brought their charcoal grill inside. With the windows closed."

"Next thing I know I've got firemen in my bedroom with a detection device that's flipping out and a headache. The apartment the furthest away from this dude's place had their detector go off."

"Saddest thing is the main tenant was out cold. His daughter, who had stayed over, thought he was dead."

"I was evacuated and watched them take her kicking and screaming out of the building: 'LET ME SEE HIM!!!'"

"Feel bad for my parents when I called at 2am very, very distraught."

"Good news is everyone lived. Bad news is my detector was a piece of sh*t."


Cold Medicine

"Cold/flu medicine. Not fun stumbling to the drugstore when you feel like death."


"I've also found out the hard way that when your whole body aches and you just want some hot soup, that is NOT the time to find out that you don't have soup in the pantry."

"If you're planning ahead by having cough syrup and cough drops when you get sick, I also recommend having a few cans of your favorite soups so you can just put it into a bowl and heat up. (Personally, I like a nice can of chicken noodle soup or split pea soup)"

"Especially for all of us who are adults, not living at home, but also don't have a significant other. If I get sick, I gotta be the one to take care of me."


Dash Cam

"Dashcam, can easily prove you innocent in an auto collision - some insurance even offer discounted rates if the insured vehicle has a dash cam. I personally recommend a front & rear cam setup."

"Ordered mine after one day of browsing IdiotsInCars"


"I worked as a claim rep for an auto insurer for a mercifully brief period of my life, and I second this recommendation whole-heartedly. Human recall is atrocious, especially after a stressful or traumatic event."

"I also learned that 3/4 of people involved in accidents vehemently do not believe they are responsible for the accident, even if they very clearly are."

"As part of our training, we read the actual "facts of loss" collected by claim reps from both the insured and the claimant. We made our own assessments of liability as part of this."

"Then, we were shown footage from surveillance cameras that caught the accident. Neither party was even remotely correct as to what happened."

"As a result of that experience I have a dash camera, which is seemingly rare in the US. At the very least, it gives the opportunity to share videos of the crazy sh*t you occasionally see on the road."

"Maybe it'll burn you in the end if you're responsible for an accident, but it could very well save you if you find yourself in a he said/she said dispute over who had a green light and who had the red."


Heating And Cooking

"Backup means of heating and cooking that don't require electricity."

"I live in Texas. Not going through that again."


"Solar chargers for USB devices are really good to keep on hand for events like this. Make sure they are recharged every few months."





"Just be sure to replace the ones you have stored after a few years."


"Finding your stash of condoms all expired a year ago is a depressing and sobering discovery."



"Generator. Ex GF said it was a stupid purchase and waste of money. Ended up using it for two days straight after a wind storm."

"Had the fridges, fish tank a few lights, TV and internet going the whole time."



"Anything that doesn't have an expiry date, that gets used with regularity, I stock up on. Toilet paper, kitchen roll, dish soap, shower gel, hand soap, bleach etc"


It's good to be prepared.

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