We all know preparedness is a journey.
Journeys take time. Over this course of time, we add supplies and contingencies to our preps.
We become more self-reliant, but we also have even more of a need for organization. I realized how important this was recently while visiting a preparedness-minded friend.
A few weeks ago, this friend invited my wife and I over for a cookout.
While my friend's wife and mine prepared food inside, my friend and I went to light the grill.
When we got outside, my friend quickly realized the propane tank on the grill was empty.
"No worries," he said, "I always keep a spare in the garage. Pays to be prepared, right?" My friend gave a knowing nod to our shared passion for preparedness.
He asked me if I would mind fetching it, saying it was just inside the garage door "on the left."
Once I got inside his garage, my eyes bulged. There was stuff everywhere – ceiling to floor. Occasionally, I'd spot some survival food or gear strewn about with old cans of primer and wood stain.
Luckily, the propane tank was easy enough to find. Once I got outside, I asked my friend "If SHTF, how are you going to find all your supplies and use them effectively."
My friend smiled sheepishly and acknowledged his need for better organization. It just wasn't something he'd ever been good at. I told him my wife and I would help.
Here's what we learned helping my friend. I sure hope it helps you in your preparedness journey.
First, it's important to note that these principles can be applied to other aspects of your life. That's a good thing. The more organized you are, the better. That's my wife talking through me there.
But it's true: clutter and disorganization cause stress. According to Psychology Today, clutter causes embarrassment (my friend can attest) and guilt. It can make it more difficult to relax, both mentally and physically. Finally, it frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly.
You probably already know how frustrating not being able to find what you need is. Especially when it's behind a pile of stuff.
Now imagine that frustration when your life is on the line.
Survival is not easy on its own, why make it harder on yourself?
So where do you start with organization?
You need to build a personal blueprint.
First, make an inventory of everything you currently have that will be needed in an emergency. It's also a good idea to make a second list of inventories you will eventually add to your supplies, so you can plan a place for them.
Put all these supplies into categories. Here's a simple example:
- Medical Supplies
- Bug Out
Generally, I categorize my supplies with two distinctions: type of gear and purpose of gear. Don't get too complex with this.
Generally, you'll want to keep all the supplies in each of those categories together, or in a few clusters. Sometimes, you'll want to store one item, like a water filtration system, closer to a source of running water, but you might store extra filters in a spot where you keep "replacement parts." Whatever is easiest to recall for you.
However, you will forget your organization template or blueprint. So, map it out as you go. Keep a physical copy.
One thing that can be handy for bins, buckets, and totes is a labeler. These can be found online and at office supply stores inexpensively. You can use masking tape and markers, but I find these fail too soon for long-term storage intentions. Once you've put your supplies into categories, you can follow the rest of the steps to help determine where you store them.
Make a Tactical Plan
Where will you and your family wait out the emergency? Organize your emergency food and supplies caches accordingly.
For example, if your retreat will be an outbuilding or other remote location, make sure to store supplies nearby. Be sure to thoroughly scout your location to ensure it is safe at all times, or to identify any potential threats to the location.
If you're planning to stay at home or shelter in place, make sure you have enough to outlast a long-term situation. It's also a good idea to have a Plan B cache in the case you need to evacuate your home.
Outsmart the Weather
Choose weatherproof containers with your climate in mind. If you have lots of rain, for instance, don't use a metal storage locker that will rust. Heavy-duty plastic rain barrels with lids work well as buried cache containers. Emergency food supplies packed in stackable and rugged plastic totes are suitable for long-term caching too. Keep in mind that small creatures like mice can contaminate poorly stored supplies. Adding extra layers of "critter protection" like duct tape or heavy-duty plastic wrap is a great idea.
Track Your Caches
If you've ever misplaced something, you know the value of keeping detailed records. Map out the locations of your supplies so you can find them even years in the future. Mark your locations on a map or GPS device (that can be accessed without cell service) but avoid conspicuous markings around your cache location. This could lead people who want to poach your supply right to it.
Tell family members, too, so they can help locate your caches when needed. But only tell people you absolutely trust.
Dividing up your survival supplies into several caches helps keep intruders from wiping out everything all at once.
Also, take into account that canned and packaged foods from the grocery store have a short shelf life. Many times, it's not as long as you might think. Non-perishable groceries won't stay fresh nearly as long as dehydrated and freeze-dried foods that are properly sealed. Look to build a food storage plan that is ready to last as long as 25 years.
So, do your homework, and choose your food stash with longevity in mind. One popular choice is the #10 can. You get up to 25 years shelf life in a durable, sturdy can - and they can feed an army.
Accessibility Above All
Finally, your emergency food supplies and survival items are only as useful as they are accessible.
Make sure that you can retrieve them easily in a crisis by caching your supplies near your emergency retreat or en route. It's a great idea to have several small caches along the way, especially if it's necessary to make multiple trips - you won't expose your entire stash all at once.
If you're staying at home, spread your cache in different places on your property. That way, if something becomes inaccessible or is stolen, you still have other caches you can get to.
Ultimately, your storage plan needs to be customized to your individual and family needs. If you need help with that, our preparedness experts are standing by - call 866.229.0927 with any questions.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply