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When you are getting prepared for an emergency, it is really important to be organized. Sure, you can just buy stuff when you see it (and if it is what you need at a good price, that’s not a bad idea), but later you may find that you need to approach this project in a more planned manner. Without organization, you can end up missing some items entirely, having the wrong items or quantities, or having things expire before you use them. By being more organized, you can make better use of the money you spend on emergency preparedness, and be more efficient in the way you acquire items.

Take Time to Plan
The first step I recommend is to plan out what it is you want to get. That can mean planning very specifically by figuring out exactly how much of each item you want to have. Or you can do your planning more generally by getting just “some” of something like toilet paper without having a certain number of rolls in mind. Maybe you are somewhere in between – I know I am.

Identify Priorities

When you are planning what you want to get to be more prepared, it can seem like the list of “must haves” is long and daunting. But instead of just looking at the whole picture, identify which items are the most important for you to have before other items on the list. Not everything is most important. Experts generally recommend water as a first priority, since we can’t survive long without it. Also, having a basic first aid kit is very important. And you should have food storage with things your family will eat. You will also want other things to aid in survival, like appropriate clothing, water purifier, fuel, and method of cooking, which you can get when you’re able.

Money

Once you know the approximate priority in which you want to acquire items, take a look at how much money you can devote to emergency preparedness. If you can put more money into getting set up (maybe using your tax refund), why not get a lot of it at once? Get the ideal pack of food and other supplies you need for your family, so you can know that you’re well on your way. Then you can supplement your supply with other items as you decide on them as well as rotate your supply as needed. It is a good idea to try foods ahead of time; before you invest in a large, one-year supply you might want to buy a smaller pack of various meals so that you will know which items your family prefers. Later, you can buy case lots and tailor your preparedness stores to your own tastes. You can also get a recipe book to help you know how to use your stored food and how to supplement them with other fresh foods if they are available.

Most of us don’t have enough money to put towards emergency preparedness all at once, so we need to start small. You may think you can or should wait until you have more money to devote to emergency preparedness, but we all know it is better to do something little by little than to do nothing at all. I started by getting a couple of gallons of water for each person in my household one time when I was at the store. I came home very satisfied that I had started – and it didn’t cost very much, either. I brought them home, wrote expiration dates on the lids (so I will remember when to rotate them), and put them in a cool, dark, place. I smiled at my small bit of accomplishment; I got more water the next time I was at the store. On other trips, my small additions were a few extra cans of food I knew we would eat. It doesn’t take a lot of money to increase your food or water supply a little at a time. It may take longer, but moving forward is the important part

Next for me was a first aid kit. I knew I would buy a kit, but first, I gathered together supplies I already had on hand. Why not? I knew I had some stuff, and gathering those things was free. Soon after, I bought a small first aid kit for my car, and another larger one for my house to keep in with my emergency prep stuff (and I returned the other supplies to my bathroom cupboard for smaller emergencies).

Rotating Food

No discussion about organizing food storage would be complete without a reminder to rotate food and water as needed. A great way to stay on top of rotating your supply is to keep track of what you have and when you need to rotate it by. Foods professionally stored has a long shelf life (some eFoods meals last for up to 25 years), but most items can’t be kept that long. Look on the canned and packaged foods you have in your cupboards – most come with an expiration date printed on the package. If it is something you have processed yourself, you can follow my example with the gallon water jugs and write the expiration date so you can remember to rotate.

As you keep track of what you have and what you need, you will see that being organized about your emergency preparedness can go a long way toward providing peace of mind for you and your family. Enjoy that peace of mind – with your organization skills, you’ve earned it.

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