Monday, September 5, 2011

Preparedness Organization - Inventory

One of the most challenging aspects of preparedness is organization.  It is one thing to have supplies put away, it is something else altogether to know where they are.  Preparedness stores can quickly become an out-of-control mess with a lack of organization.  A key aspect of effective preparedness is maintaining a comprehensive, up-to-date inventory.

Although we have been preppers for the better part of 15 years, we don't have very much space in which to properly store our preparations.  The food is jumbled in with the tactical gear.  The bedding co-mingles with the toilet paper.  Although it isn't ideal, we have to use the space we have to achieve our preparedness goals.  Because of a lack of proper storage space, acquiring more preparedness stores can be an exercise in frustration.  One thing gets shoved on top of another and pretty soon we have to repel to get to the other side of the mountain of supplies.  The reality of this situation is that if there were ever truly an emergency, we would be hard pressed to actually put our hands on needed food or equipment.

Recently, Sir Knight and I decided to tackle our organizational nightmare.  We started at the beginning of our shelving units, inventoried each item (including the number of each item), cleaned each bucket and rearranged the shelves so that like items were together.  We assigned locations for each shelving units, including shelf numbers and included those on the inventory.  We wrote everything down, whether it was food, tactical gear, medical equipment or communications gear.  We included a location for each item.  It was a long, hot project, but the end result was an extraordinarily organized storage space.  Finally, if we needed something, we could lay our hands on it!

After we inventoried our entire storage space, I created a list of each item and its location, clipped it on a clipboard and hung it on the proper shelf.  This enables anyone going into our storage room to determine, at a glance, what items are on each shelving unit.  Once the lists for the shelving units were complete I created a Master List.  The Master List included EVERY item on EVERY shelf, in alphabetical order along with its location on the shelf.  The Master List lives in the house.  If I need to know about a specific item, I can look on the Master List and locate the item within minutes.  It also lets me know if I have a specific item or if I need to acquire it.

The reality is that preparedness takes effort.  It is not enough just to buy food stores and equipment.  You have to systematically rotate and organize your stores.  Keeping an accurate and complete inventory will render your supplies readily available and easily accessible.  Don't just rest on the knowledge that you have what you need "somewhere". Make the effort to know exactly what you have and were it is located.  It will be the best few hours you ever spent.


  1. Enola,

    What you doing is a good idea. I learned in the military keeping the items you need in a certain location and getting the items every time from the same location. Then in an emergency it becomes an "automatic response" when emergencies happen and you can grab the right gear for the right situation. There is no hunting around for a weapon, band aids or evan car keys.
    I would know and grab the proper item/items I need and focus on the situation at hand.

  2. Impressive undertaking Enola and Sir Knight!

    We have performed a similar inventory and rearrangement for easy find and hands on organization here in our barn as well. It must have something to do with the instinct of sheer frustration and near panic we experienced when we needed to find an important calf pulling tool and we didn't know where it was! That emergency, which was further impeded by our own negligence for displacing the item where it was designated to be stored, resulted in some quick makeshift improvisation on our part, to retrieve that calf, still viable. I cannot stress how important a lesson we learned that day, to put items back where they belong when you take them down off the shelf!
    Sometimes, wasted minutes searching, can mean the difference between life or death.


  3. during your time of taking inventory, and rotating your stored goods i hope that you give some thought to packing a small box with food items that a food bank could use. churches and charities alike are suffering severe shortages at this time. i cleaned and sorted thru my storage pantry yesterday and came up with a box of food that would make at least five meals for a small family or a vet or elderly person. my husband delivered it today.

  4. Just the other day I searched frantically through my "storage" room for the elusive 5 gallon bucket of brown sugar. The whole time I kept thinking about how I needed to better organize things. Never did find it and had to run to the store. Kudos to you for taking the time...I'll do mine soon.


  5. Thank you So much for the encouragement to get going on our pet project. I don't want to know your inventory, but could you give us just a little bit more about the system? How you sort/divide/conquer? We are blessed with a little bit of storage space, but it is so cluttered and I have been paralyzed to try to get some kind of inventory. Any further help? Long-time lurker.

  6. It is a good idea to keep stores in more than one location. Ideally some of your stores should be hidden should the powers that be decide that "it's only fair to share".
    However this creates an OPSEC issue.
    There is no point having a load of food hidden somewhere if there is an easily locatable page that has "Rice - 50lbs - hidden cache 1 - bucket 3" written on it.
    I don't know what the solution to this is as it's also vital that you know what is stored, where it is and when it will expire.