As prep counselors and advisors, we get endless questions and inquiries about how much “stuff” to buy. But even more importantly and often a question of inquiry is how to organize it all, then keep it all in order and up-to-date. For many that is the hard part. Just this week, I got a call from a prepper friend making the statement about his having to spend the upcoming weekend going through his “prepper” closet just to see what all was in there. He laughed saying that every time he digs in there he finds stuff he had totally forgotten about, or did not even know he had. That is the essence of this issue.
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & SurvivalCache
Prepping is, of course, all about prepping or preparing for any potential SHTF event natural or unnatural. Whether the option is to stay put with a Bug In strategy, or decide (or forced by circumstances) to escape to an alternative Bug Out location, either plan requires food, water, medical, supplies, gear, tools, defensive materiel (guns, ammo and support gear), and all the “stuff” of survival.
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That’s a given, but what is often not a given is how you maintain all of this material, supplies, and gear in an organized fashion. Care also has to be given not to overdo the purchase of multi-multiples of one thing or another in favor of budgeting funds for more necessary or critical items. For certain, this is a tough issue to balance, but it has to be done as best as can be possible.
So, ask yourself this simple question. If the lights were to go out at home right now, where are your flashlights? Do they work? Where are extra batteries kept and do you have plenty of fresh ones? Where are all those candles stored away? The matches?
Lights out, power off, water gone, where is your camping cook stove? Do you have fuel for it? When was the last time it was fired up? Now, where is that hand crank can opener? Can you find your defense guns and extra ammo in the dark? Such questions can go on and on. You had better be able to answer every one of them, quickly and positively. If you make a total assessment of your prep stuff status now to determine that your inventory of goods and supplies is way too complicated, or there is likely no real recorded inventory at all, then now is the time to get organized to simplify and get back on track.
Admittedly I am old school, but I come by it honestly. First, I am old, but more importantly I was raised by a father retired from the Army Air Corps after flying a B-24 over Germany for 25 missions in WWII. He came home to Missouri to open his own agricultural flying business. He was so organized it hurt. His prevailing philosophy in life was “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” He drilled that over and over and my brother and I both learned it well.
He was also big on redundancy, another lesson I learned too well. I’ll discuss that later. Dad’s aircraft hangers were lined with pegboard for hanging tools. Every tool was outlined with a black marker. He could scan those walls to see what was missing and there was hell to pay if a tool could not be found. There are a lot of lessons there for preppers.
One person’s organization plan is another person’s headache. However you do it, do it! I am a list maker. All my prepping gear is listed, noted, and in a file folder close at hand. I review it often. When I use up something entirely, that is noted on a “to buy” list to keep up and know to buy more. So, I don’t go to the garage storage closet to discover I am out of tape or glue, or trash bags or whatever. Like Walmart I am rarely out of something, but it happens.
I also use the pegboard method to organize tools, hand tools, garden tools, and a ton of stuff I hang on the garage wall. I try to keep up with everything we have so long as my spouse partner can remember to put it back after she uses something. That is a trial all its own.
I fully utilize numerous storage containers to keep and organize all kinds of gear. Each box is labeled, so I know what is inside. Forget trying to remember all that. Be careful where you store what you have if you have humidity issues or insect issues. My storage boxes have good lock down lids. Stored in the garage though, I regularly inspect the contents to make certain no issues or problems have popped up.
If you keep gear inside as you should, then organize it too, in a closet(s) or dedicated room if possible. Don’t just open the door and throw stuff on the shelves or floor as my friend does. Keep everything in order, categorized, and in labeled boxes as appropriate. You’ll be glad you did when the time comes during an emergency to lay your hands on something you need or when you suddenly find out you have very limited time effect a Bug Out elsewhere.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Confession time, I am as bad about this as anybody. It is part of the redundancy issue, but how many cases of quick fix foods do you really need? Now many cases of bottled water? How many bottles of aspirin, other meds, or even first aid items. Fifty packs of gauze and ten tubes of antiseptic ointment might be overkill. A prepper friend of mine keeps 50 cases of bottled water on hand. Is that excessive? These are hard issues and often dependent on how big your family or group is. Stock up according, but one or two brands or types of anything may be sufficient. Having more consumable items may seem reasonable, but apply common sense.
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We’re often asked in this regard about defensive prepping firearms. If you have three shooters in the family, then each person should have their own handgun, rifle, and shotgun. They should be standardized to the group in terms of brand, caliber, gauge, ammo, magazines, and such. It is much easier to train and have weaponry reliance when the arsenal is standardized. The same goes for ammunition and gun cleaning supplies.
If you go with a 9mm for example, then everyone should shoot the same 9mm pistol to interchange magazines and ammo. Consider 1000 rounds of standardized ammo for each firearm. Match up optics, slings, holsters, and other accessories. Every person should be able to grab any gun of any type, and be familiar with how to load it, use it, clear it, etc. Likewise every shooter should know how to clean and maintain every gun in the defensive arsenal.
This principle goes for any survival gear you own. All gas lanterns should be the same. Flashlights should be the same using the same batteries. Go with cook stoves that everyone knows how to use. Two tents for camping or bugging out? Make them the same. Etc. Etc. Redundancy is fine to a limit, but match, don’t mix. It’s just easier for everyone to deal with.
Recycle and Refresh
Perhaps just as important as taking and keeping an inventory of every prepper related piece of gear and supplies is the routine use and refreshing of all consumable items especially foods, water, and medicines. Many survival items are touted to last in storage for the end of times, but don’t expect that box of Twinkies or those cans of soup to last endless years. Just use them and replace them on a regular basis. Try to make much of your everyday stored foods your survival foods as well. Don’t hold back a case of pork and beans for an unknown future SHTF. Just eat them occasionally and then buy more.
If you are redundancy crazed like me, then having 3-4 or more of some things is great, so long as they do not expire, deteriorate, or become contaminated. Even factory boxed ammo can get damaged if not stored properly long term. Keep ammo from heat and humidity exposure. Store paper boxed ammo in sealed heavy plastic or metal containers. Label it.
Get your complete prepper inventory of goods, supplies, equipment and gear onto a permanent hard copy list or computer file with a portable back up, but keep them secure. Review it often. Include a note pad for passing thoughts or ideas of tasks to accomplish, other items to purchase, or skills to acquire, etc. If you are older like me, do not rely on your memory. Don’t rely on it anyway. We are never really ever fully prepared for survival. It’s an on-going process.
Prepping cannot be a happenstance event. It has to be thought through, organized, orchestrated, practiced and executed. Otherwise, your survival just might be just as equally happenstance. Don’t make your survival a chance circumstance. Work it. Win it.