What’s the most unlikely place to shop when fleeing an apocalyptic event? Your local music store.

For example, you’ll eventually want to wash your clothes, but without power and water that’s difficult. You can beat your clothing on a rock in a stream, but why not use the traditional wash board? Because they’re almost impossible to find. And unless you live in Amish country you’ll have trouble finding any. But your local music store might have a supply used by Blue Grass and country music enthusiasts.

What else can you find there? Whistles can be very useful for communicating and calling for help. Strings! Although intended for instruments, these strings are tough and really useful in a number of circumstances. There are also boxes and cases that can be used for many things (think machine-gun-in-a-violin-case useful).

And, of course, some sort of portable musical instrument might make the long nights around the campfire more bearable. Harmonicas are great and so are ukuleles. Skip anything big like a guitar—they’re too awkward to carry as you run for your life.

Also look for recorders (remember playing one in elementary school?) and other small flutes and easily portable instruments. Why? Music can be a great balm. Even if you don’t play an instrument now, after civilization falls you might end up with a lot of time on your hands.

It’s also a good idea to learn to play an instrument like this ahead of time. The others may work harder to keep you alive if you can make their lives a little better after a day of fleeing.

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