Best Ways to Store and Organize Emergency Supplies

Published April 3, 2020
Hand completing Emergency Preparation List

Now that you have emergency supplies, you want the best ways to store and organize them so they're easily accessible when you need them. There are a few precautions you should make to ensure your supplies aren't damaged while being stored.

Select Your Emergecy Supply Storage Location First

The first precaution to make is in selected where you will store your food. You want to choose an area that is dry and temperature controlled. It's wise to store your food and other emergency supplies together so you aren't running around trying to find everything. However, some preppers believe you should store in different areas in your home. This may be necessitated by the size of your home. If you live in an apartment, you'll most likely have to use different areas for storage, such as under beds and behind couches and chairs.

Safe Storage of Supplies and Places to Avoid

It's always best to have your emergency supplies inside your home for easy access. However, you should avoid storing your emergency supplies in a damp basement. Any storage area that has a moisture problem, such as a basement, should be sealed and fixed before using it to store your emergency supplies. If your area is prone to floods, it's worth investing in raised shelving to ensure your supplies won't be damaged should the storage area be flooded.

Avoid Outbuildings for Storing Emergency Supplies

Avoid storing emergency supplies in an outbuilding that is disconnected from your home. If the weather is bad or your property is flooded, you might not be able to get to your supplies. Another concern is theft. An outbuilding is far easier to breach than your home. You can protect your supplies inside your home much easier than those in an outside storage building.

Outbuilding completely flooded

Outbuildings Suited for Emergency Supply Storage

An outbuilding rarely has an HVAC system for climate control. However, if your outbuilding does and it's the only place where you can store your emergency supplies, then make sure you have a way to access them in harsh weather conditions, such as a covered or even an enclosed walkway.

Organize Existing Emergency Supplies

The first thing you want to do is organize all your existing emergency supplies. This will quickly show any gaps in your supplies so you can add and backfill as necessary. Clear out a space and set all of your supplies there so you can visually see everything in one place.

Divide Items According to Type, Use and Frequency Need

You need to divide your emergency supplies into groupings. This process is fairly straight forward and logical. You may not need all of the groupings mentioned, but these examples give you a starting point.

  • Emergency lighting includes candles with waterproof matches, flashlights, solar lanterns, oil lamps, light sticks, and other types of lighting supplies.
  • Communication supplies include, walkie talkie sets, hand-crank radio, CB radio, EMF protected radio and/or cellphone, flares, whistle, etc.
  • Batteries, chargers, solar-powered energy sources can be grouped near the emergency lighting.
  • Emergency food includes all types of foods, such as MREs, protein bars, home-canned foods, emergency bucket foods, #10 cans.
  • Water can be grouped with the emergency food or treated as a separate group to include related items, such as water purifiers, canteens and cups.
  • Medical supplies and first aid kits include a stockpile of prescription drugs you may need as well as an emergency medical kit and first aid kit. Be sure you include some potassium iodide pills to protect your thyroid gland should there be a radiation emergency.
  • Protective clothing includes heavy-duty work gloves, hardhat, neon safety vest, gas mask, chemical protection suits, rain gear, boots, cold weather clothing, and other emergency wear.
  • Camping supplies include tents, sleeping bags, tactical shovel, cooking utensils, pots, camping grills, mess kits, knifes, and fire starters.
  • Survival gear includes all kinds of gear not categorized, such as a bug-out bag, emergency rain poncho, weapons, and other gear.

Organize Emergency Supplies Per Person

If you have family members with special needs, specific medications or other requirements, you can organize their items separately from the main items. You can place these in a large plastic container with a secure lid. You can package their items individually if necessary to protect from insects, bugs, mice, and dust. Label with their name and show them where you are placing their group of items so they'll know how to access them when needed.

Storage Solutions for Emergency Supplies

Once you have all your supplies sorted into group, you need to decide the best way to store them. You should store the items in groups so you know where to go when you need them.

Organizing emergency supplies

Small Storage Area Solutions

Depending on the size of your emergency supplies, you may only need a hall closet for storage. This is especially true for a single person or someone living in an apartment where storage is at a premium. Instead of a large first aid kit, a smaller version may be enough for one or two people. If you don't have room to store much, then choose only the bare essentials that you think you'll need. For example, if you live in an area prone to floods or earthquakes, a bugout bag with supplies for at least three days is your ideal emergency choice. You can easily store this in a closet or under the bed. You should also have one stored in your vehicle in case you're away from home during an emergency.

Medium Size Storage

For a medium sized storage area, you can quickly organize your space with shelving. You can purchase metal shelving units, storage cabinets or build your own.

  • Measure the items you need to store to ensure they'll fit the dimensions of your shelving unit.
  • Determine the load capacity for each shelf and how much your supplies weigh, so you don't overload the shelves and risk losing your supplies.
  • Loose items can be stored in a bin or a tub with a lid for easy storage.
  • Store smaller loose items in totes. You can color code these for flu medicines in a green tote, first aid items in a red tote, and other colors for groupings.

Large Storage Areas

If you're lucky enough to have a large accommodating storage area for your emergency supplies, you can spread out your shelving units and add more as you increase your stock of emergency food and supplies. You can use a grid to divide the space so your emergency food, clothing, medical supplies, and equipment are stored in separate areas. This type of organization makes it very handy when you need specific types of emergency supplies.

Label Shelves, Bins, and Tubs With Expiration Dates

You can label the shelves, so you know what is stored there. You can also print out a list of the items contained in each tub and tape it to the end of the tub. That way you can read it without having to remove it from the shelf. Make sure you include expiration dates on the labels and lists. Check your supplies once a month and replace as needed to avoid having expired supplies.

Determining the Best Ways to Store and Organize Your Emergency Supplies

The amount of storage space you have will determine the amount of emergency supplies you can accommodate. Be sure you return items to their proper place after the emergency is over so you'll know where it is the next time you need it.

Best Ways to Store and Organize Emergency Supplies