Obtaining your emergency supplies is a good first step in getting prepared, but throwing an unorganized pile of survival gear into a closet will do little to help you in the event of a real disaster.  

    This article contains some tips broken down into 4 categories.  As you decide how to organize your supplies, consider how each of these categories applies to your situation. I'm sure there are things I'll miss so please contribute your own tips in the comments section.


    Every family has different preparedness needs, but most important principle is that you need access to emergency supplies no matter where you are 24/7.  You never know where and when a disaster will strike so being smart about storing your supplies will help protect them, preserve them, and make accessing them safe and easy:

    • Store emergency supplies in your home and in your vehicles. You never know where you will be when disaster strikes, which is why FEMA recommends storing an emergency kit at home and in each of you vehicles.
    • For preservation, store supplies in a dry location and avoid places with large temperature fluctuations as this degrades the packaging that contains your food and water.
    • For accessibility, choose a storage location close to an outside exit along your evacuation route. When disaster strikes you need to be able to grab your kit on your way out.


    Most emergency kits have a 5 year shelf life, however, some items may have a shorter life expectancy.  Some items might degrade well in advance of their shelf life and I can think of nothing worse than finding damaged supplies when you need them most.  With that said, you should inspect the contents of your emergency kit every six months.   

    Consider the following during your 6 month inspection:

    • Visually Inspect each item in your emergency kit.
    • Replace Expired Items.  Make sure to check items in the first aid kit, emergency food and water, batteries, and medications.
    • Replace outdated documents with updated versions.  Insurance policies, medical information, and other important document change frequently, so make sure the documents stored in your emergency kit are up to date.
    • Take a moment to reevaluate your preparedness needs and add or remove items as necessary.  Changes in the number of family members, the number of cars, ages of family members, and the availability of new emergency preparedness products and technology, could all impact the types of item you want to keep in your survival kits.  


    Keep an up-to-date list of all items in your emergency kit.  When disaster strikes, having a list of items will remind you of what you have without needing to rummage through all of your supplies.  

    You can also take the additional step of adding the expiration date of each item.  That will make identifying expired items much easier.  

    An added benefit of writing it all down, is that you can share your list with other friends and family members.  It will help them understand what they might need in their kit.  .


    Most people purchase a pre-made emergency kit, or build one on their owning using an off the shelf school backpack to store their supplies.  With only one compartment, all of the supplies are dumped in.  Locating supplies involves wading through layers and layers of supplies. Supplies on the bottem get crushed, and they are often to heavy to carry.  Food, water, flashlights, first aid kit, blankets, medications, and everything else is all just dumped in.

    When organizing your Emergency Kit, consider the following:

    • Look for a high-capacity backpack with many built-in storage compartments for your emergency kit.  Consider something like the EP-FLEX3 Backpack which has 8 Storage compartments, and modular pouches with clear tops for quick and easy identification of supplies. 
    • If you need more supplies than will fit in a single backpack, consider adding a duffel back to hold your additional supplies.  One person can't wear 2 backpacks, but they can wear one backpack and carry a
      duffel bag.
    • For households with 3 or more family members, consider organizing supplies By Person.  Add a personalized container (like a pouch) to your emergency kit for each family member.  Next, label it with their name and store all of their supplies in it including medications and personal items.
    • Keep emergency supplies for infants in their own dedicated baby duffel bag.  Their preparedness needs change monthly (in terms of food, diaper sizes, etc.). You will want to be able update their supplies more frequently than other family members. 

Following these common sense tips will not only provide you with greater piece-of-mind, but you'll also be better prepared to ride out a disaster.  In the comments section, let me know what you think, and share your tips with other readers.