I wish you could have seen my Survival Closet before my intrepid daughter reorganized it a few months ago.
When we moved into this house back in 2014, whenever we unpacked something related to prepping, I said, “Go put it in the Survival Closet,” and that’s what everyone did without any regard to organization. If it was related to prepping, into the closet it went.
As I added new preps over the years, we piled them into the closet, and soon it was crazy-messy. Kind of embarrassing for The Survival Mom!
One weekend and without being asked, my daughter tackled that closet. She told me what size storage bins she needed and how many of each, and that was my main contribution to this monumental task.
I was impressed with her skills, made a few organizational changes of my own, and now our Survival Closet serves its true purpose — having emergency supplies and gear ready at a moment’s notice when any sort of crisis strikes.
If your preps are a mess and you have no idea how to put them in order, read on.
The Survival Closet
First, let me explain why I decided to store most of our emergency preps in one location. Keep in mind our food storage, stored water, and some larger preps are located elsewhere but this closet contains smaller supplies in 8 general categories:
- Light sources (candles, flashlights, light sticks, headlamps, etc.)
- Emergency kit food (energy bars, MREs, Extreme Sports Beans, etc.)
- First Aid/Medical
- Energy sources (batteries, solar chargers, battery packs)
- Water purification
- Clothing (work gloves, neon yellow safety vest, hardhat, etc.)
- Outdoor/camping (mess kits
- General survival gear (paracord, a couple of multitools, etc.)
When my daughter unpacked everything in the closet and laid them out on the floor, these were the categories that were the best fit. Your categories might be different, but the key is to first, get everything in one place where you can see it, and the begin sorting.
With these in one location and sorted by category, we’re able to find what we need for specific situations. For example, when we were hours away from the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, I went to the closet and found the emergency lights I was looking for along with a solar battery panel in the Energy Sources bin. When I packed my daughter’s emergency kit before she went off to college, I was able to find what I needed quickly from the labeled bins and containers.
Another reason I like having most everything in one location, rather than scattered around the house, is because I can quickly tell my kids, “Get a flashlight from the Survival Closet”, and they know exactly where to go.
A few things are in their own boxes, such as 3 waterBOBs, a couple of boxes of fuel tablets, our Sun Oven, and so on. We stacked them on the floor, and the labels are easy to see. One challenge we encountered was how to store oddly shaped items like a large emergency radio, battery-powered fans (a must-have), and some solar lights and chargers.
An improvement I may make in the future is the addition of a third shelf since we have the wall space for it.
Finally, inside the closet on both sides are hooks that hold our backpacks, a LifeStraw Mission water filter, and a couple of rain ponchos. If we had young children, we would place a second set of hooks at their eye level, holding their smaller backpacks.
Get your own emergency supplies organized
If you’ve accumulated a lot of preps or emergency supplies, organization is key. The word “emergency” implies a hurried, perhaps panicky, event in which adrenaline levels will be high and decisions have to be made instantaneously. In such a scenario, you need to know exactly where to find what you need.
There are different ways of organizing, but the system of sorting similar items by categories and then storing them in containers works for us and is how my Survival Closet” is organized.
To get started organizing your own emergency supplies and preps, here’s a checklist:
- Assemble in one place everything you have that you consider to be emergency supplies and preps.
- Separate the largest items from everything else. You may have to store them separately in other locations, but for now, focus on the remaining preps.
- Use my categories and begin sorting everything in separate piles:
- Light sources
- Emergency kit food
- First aid/Medical
- Energy sources
- Water purification
- General survival
- Once everything is sorted into these categories, see if you can identify additional categories for the remaining items. If not, they can go in their own container marked “Miscellaneous”.
- Decide what type of containers you’ll need for each category and how large those containers should be. Don’t be stalled at this step, thinking these containers need to match or be color coordinated! Cardboard boxes are fine.
- Fill and label each container.
- If you have a closet, a spare room, or another fairly large area for storage, move your now-organized supplies there. Use shelving if you have it. This article contains instructions for building your own shelving system for cheap. Wall hooks are very inexpensive and can increase your storage area by using vertical space.
If you don’t have a single area large enough for everything, you’ll want to identify the locations you do have and then divide your supplies between them. Alternatively, you could relocate the contents of a large closet, a room, or part of a room in order to keep all your preps together in one place.
Here’s your emergency supplies organization cheat sheet!
Don’t delay in organizing your preps. You don’t want to be the person in desperate need of something in an emergency, only to face a disorganized drawer, cupboard, or, hey, maybe it’s under the bed or on the top shelf of the pantry!
Don’t be that person!
Download and print out this pdf with more photos of my emergency supplies, a checklist for getting your own supplies in shape, and a helpful inventory so you’ll know just what you have.
Let me know how this organization planner/cheat sheet can be improved and share with me your own tips for organizing emergency supplies and preps.