Tidying Up to be Better Prepared

Every year, before the Winter holidays start, our family takes a few days to go through our house and clean.  We purge things we don’t use anymore, we organize the closets, and we deep clean so the house is ready for all of the events that will take place.

This year, once we were done, we took a moment to relax and turned on Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. Now I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to see this latest streaming phenomenon, but it hooked us.  After bingeing the series over the course of two nights, we decided to go back through our house with a slightly different filter.

As we were refolding our shirts (if you haven’t watched the show yet, you’ll understand when you do), I got to thinking about how this “Tidying” philosophy could be applied to preparedness.  Once I started thinking about it, and working through the overlaps and benefits in my head, there were 2 key themes that really resonated: bringing things into the future with you, and everything has a home.

Bringing Things Into the Future

During some episodes, there were times when a family member was having a difficult time parting with an item.   They had saved the item for years and years. It almost seemed as if they were saving it because they had saved it in the past, not because it had true emotional significance anymore.  Marie Kondo would say that the item had obviously been important in the past.  Next she would ask if it was something that they wanted to continue to carry with them into the future?  Every time the item would be thanked for its service (again, if you haven’t seen the show, you’ll understand when you do…and yes, you’ll thank your items too :-)) and sent on its way.

When we worked our way through our house I started to ask myself this question as it related to preparedness.  I found old flashlights that were now unreliable, but I had kept because “you can never have too many flashlights”.  Well… you can’t have too many working flashlights, but any broken flashlights are too many.  Having redundancy and backups is a key tenant of preparedness, but keeping broken or damaged items because “they might work in an emergency” or “they’re better than nothing” is not a good reason.  Thank the items for their past service, send them along, and focus on your reliable gear.

Everything Has A Home

plastic tubsThis idea is pretty obvious, but once you really focus on it, it takes on a life of its own.  In fact, there will be more posts in the future diving into more details.  The big idea though, is to identify a place for everything in your house, and return the items to their homes when you’re done.

I thought about this one and looked at my current setup of supplies. I realized I had some work to do. Most of my gear and supplies are stored in large plastic totes.  This keeps them in general categories and from being a complete mess.  However, lots of the tubs have become mixed up with different types or items.  Additionally, inside the tubs there is nothing to keep the items organized.

The Importance of Boxes

It’s easy to throw a bunch of gear in a big plastic container and feel like you’ve organized. In the scope of your garage, for example, now all of your preparedness gear is in one spot.  Your water filters are no longer mixed in with your canned green beans and your maps aren’t next to your kid’s basketballs.  “Yay!”, right?  Well, yes and no.

Yes, in that you at least have your gear centralized.  Knowing where your supplies are is critically important for being able to use them in an emergency.  However, by organizing the items within the large container, you’ll be able to find the item you need much faster.  Marie Kondo advocates using small boxes as drawer dividers and shoeboxes in closets.  I alter that slightly to also include Ziploc bags too.  The goal is to create organization within the large tub so you can see what you have.

battery containerAs an example, think about batteries.  We have a small container in our kitchen where we store some batteries for everyday use.  These are usually whatever is left after we open a large package of batteries (we store the large, sealed packages in the garage, these are kind of our “active use” batteries for when the remote dies and we don’t want to go out to the garage).  Well, this container had AA’s, AAA’s, C’s, watch batteries, camera batteries, and 9V’s all mixed together.  When we needed a battery, especially a AA or AAA, it was difficult to find them and it was difficult to know how many were in the container.  To fix this, I took all of the batteries that weren’t AA’s or AAA’s out to the garage with the battery stores.  Next I took a piece of cardboard and made a divider to separate the AA’s and the AAA’s inside the container.  This seems like a silly fix for a silly problem, but when we’ve needed a battery over the last couple of weeks, it’s been so much easier to find the one we need and our container isn’t overflowing with clutter.

Time to Tidy

Tidying up your preparedness supplies is open to interpretation.  Some people may want to use labels, others may use colors, I personally think barcodes may be a step to far – but I’m not judging (and now that I type that…I wonder how much a barcode scanner is on Amazon??).  There isn’t a correct answer.  The more that you do, the easier it will be for you, and for your family, to access all of the supplies you’ve spent so much time accumulating – when time is of the essence.


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Author: Casey Feves

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