Emergency Prep Kit: Organizing

I’m just 1 person who wants to make sure I’m prepared for emergencies. In a previous post, I discussed the contents of an emergency prep kit. Here are some tips and strategies for keeping all of those items organized and refreshed.

Accessing Your Emergency Prep Kit

There’s almost nothing worse than knowing you have an item but not being able to find it, and being able to access your emergency supplies quickly and easily in an emergency is so important.

  • Keep your supplies in a single location, not spread around the house.
  • Keep your supplies in easy-to-carry containers such as boxes with wheels and/or handles or bags with handles and/or straps.
  • Keep your supplies near a door and out in the open.
  • Keep your supplies in a temperature-controlled environment.

Your supplies don’t have to be in the center of your bedroom, but they also shouldn’t be hidden away in the back of a closet where it will take you half an hour just to find them. I’ve made that mistake, and digging through a sea of boxes in the dark during a power outage is no fun at all. Also, if your garage or shed gets extremely hot or cold, it’s not the best place to store emergency supplies such as medicine or food; choose a location where the contents won’t go bad.

Labeling Your Emergency Prep Kit

Putting a label on the outside of each box allows you to easily find the boxes when you need them. However, you might consider some extra labelling to further help your future self out. For example:

  • If you have more than one box or bag, create a list of items inside each.
  • Use smaller boxes and bags inside to group similar items such as toiletries in one container and medicine in another. Label each of these so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • If you’re using bags, attach luggage tags to each bag’s handle with a summary of its contents or the name of each person in the family who would be responsible for grabbing it in an emergency. Take into consideration how heavy each bag is.

Refreshing Your Emergency Prep Kit

Building a comprehensive kit is hard enough, but don’t make the mistake of stocking it well and then forgetting about it for 5 years. If an emergency arises at that point, you might find that the items you’ve added are no longer good. Even shelf-stable goods have a shelf life. Here’s my trick: Every time I buy a new can of soup or tube of toothpaste, I put the new item inside the emergency kit and use the older item instead. Cycling through in this way keeps the items in my kit from expiring before they can be used and is no extra cost to me. 

I keep a list of items in each box. I keep a similar list on a clipboard on the inside of my pantry with expiration dates of all relevant items (food, medicine, etc.). I can consult the expiration dates on the list at any time to see what might need to be eaten or replaced soon. If there’s something I think of that I want to add to my emergency boxes, I put those items on a post-it attached to the list in my pantry so I can remember to get them the next time I’m in a store or placing an online order.

This method keeps me from wasting good food and keeps me constantly prepared with Band-Aids I know will stick, pain relievers I know will work, and food I know won’t make me ill.

Additional Tips 

Here are some additional, helpful things to keep in mind about emergency prep kits:

  • Don’t store toiletries or cleaning products in the same container as food. After a while, your food will start to absorb odors and taste like your laundry detergent or deodorant. 
  • Put the most essential items at the top. If you have multiple boxes/bags and only have time to grab one, make sure the easiest one to get to is the one that will help you the most. 
  • Put the heaviest items on the bottom. If you have a heavy case of water or three cases of cat food, consider putting those in the bottom box and maybe a single bottle of water and a few cans of cat food in the top box of essentials. 
  • In addition to labeling, you might decide to color-code your solution so you know at a quick glance what is in each.
  • Add a personal item such as a book, plushie, pack of cards or other game to give yourself something to do or a bit of comfort/fun in an emergency situation.

What’s your best tip for keeping an emergency prep kit organized?

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