How to Perform a Preparedness Audit (And Why You Need To Do This Every Year)

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Every year, businesses perform an inventory and do an audit on their supplies. This helps them to know what they’ve spent, what they have, and what they need.

If you’re serious about preparedness, you need to be doing the same thing. At least once a year, you need to do a preparedness audit to make sure you always have the essentials on hand.

Often times, you think you have a lot more than you really do. You forget about those times you dip into your stockpile because you ran out of something in the kitchen. Or maybe you stashed something “out of sight, out of mind” and it expired. Maybe you’ve “lost” a case of dried food, and you know you have it somewhere.

Well, if you can’t find it now on summer break with air conditioning and electric lights, how do you think you’re going to find it in an emergency?

And this just doesn’t go for food. It goes for supplies too. If you had to hunker down due to a nuclear event a hundred miles away, you’ll need to be able to find your potassium iodide pills NOW.  Ditto for your supplies to turn a room of your house into a nuclear shelter.

Break your audit into two parts: food and supplies.

How to do a food inventory

The best way to do a food inventory is to pull ALL your food out into one room and start a physical list of what you have. Yes, you can do this on the computer or on your phone, but if the power goes out, you may not have access to these lists.  If you do the list on your computer, print it out.

Break your food into categories. I use the following:

Take some time to figure out what meals you could make with the items you have on hand. (Get some ideas here.) This will help you figure out what you need to add to your stockpile so that you aren’t dining on canned peaches and saltines.

Then, take this opportunity to clean out your storage area and make it spic and span.

Finally, don’t think for a second you are going to remember where all your supplies are located. You need to make a treasure map so you’ll know where to find everything.

Next is your supply audit.

You may have tons of prepper supplies and pieces of gear, but if things are scattered all over the house, you won’t be able to find them when you need them. Sometimes, supplies are urgently needed and if you have to dig for 15 minutes to locate them, you may have missed an important window.

So pull out all your supplies, much like you did your food. Then you’re going to organize your gear.

For this, I use a variety of Rubbermaid tubs with the type of supply it is on the outside. I keep printed information in each tub that is pertinent to the contents. Here are some examples:

Obviously, these aren’t all the supplies you’ll need. This is just to give you a general idea of how I organize my gear. Don’t forget a well-organized tactical first-aid kit that will be easy to access in an emergency.

While you do this organization, really think through the emergency that each tub is geared toward. What’s missing? Jot it down on a shopping list. You don’t have to fulfill that list today, but you should work toward getting each kit well-supplied. And of course, when you get the necessary supplies, add them to the appropriate kit.

No matter how well-prepared you are, you should do this audit at least once a year.

You need to check your gear at least once a year, if not more frequently. When heading into winter, check to see that you have your cold-weather power outage gear up to par. Do the same thing when the warmer months are approaching. It’s easy to grab something you need from your supplies and forget about replacing the item. If you don’t do audits, you won’t know what’s missing until an emergency strikes and you need the item.

How do you keep your prepper gear and food organized? Share your ideas in the comments below.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company.  She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I used to use the Rubbermade type totes to store stuff in but I found they didn’t stack well or very high if full of anything heavy and some brands of totes became brittle after a short time and cracked or sagged and such. I still use some, especially the newer ones rated for lower temps. I’ve begun using the types like KeepBox with the hinged lid that’s split down the middle, thata’ ways the lid doesn’t get lost. The brand convience stores and such get their products shipped in works well too, they seem to be the heavist duty, longest lasting, plastic, much better for sliding across concete or shelving and they stack super great and seem better with heavier loads. And, they can be zip-tied or twist-tied shut! The trade off of course is the hinged lids do not protect the contents from rain or any type of leak, like from a water pipe break. Beware though, there are brands that look the same but are way too flimsy & weak.

    Anyway, OT – Have you all seen the video, ‘You Are Being Groomed’ by Amazing Polly? If not, maybe you should, it’s spooky stuff about the way they changed what money is in China and how they intend to do so worldwide. And, why you should throw away your smartphone. The part about the farmer who said he didn’t even have a cell phone yet had to be a part of the whole social credit system is still ringing in my ears,… freaky future, it seems.

  • Great article Daisy. Just today my son and I were organizing our supplies and discovered that mice had eaten the wax from many of my candles. I will start doing a yearly audit of all supplies. I would have been really unhappy had there been a major emergency and then found out I had lost so many candles. I would have never thought mice would eat wax but apparently they really enjoy it!

    • Dang, Lisa. I had no idea they liked wax, that’s good to know, thanks for typing that. Seems like a cardboard box is bad place to store candles, then.

  • Yes, yearly seems wiser than longer periods of time. Our food is stored all in one place and organized by depth because that’s the kind of space we have. The dry, sealed long term stuff is way in the back. Foods that have a higher turnover and quick stuff are out in front. Other supplies are stored in kits stashed all over the house, for lack of space in one spot.

    One headsup is that poptop lids do not last more than a couple of years. Lost a bunch of cans of fruit with popped lids and a sticky mess everywhere. Fully canned lids are better in order to avoid that sinking feeling of, “What the …?” So glad I was doing an inventory! Would’ve been awful to find that mess during SHTF.

  • Some losses and mess-ups from just this last year:

    Some boxes of 20yr+ old MREs that were no longer trustworthy.

    Some sealed 5-gallon buckets of red wheat that my changed health can no longer tolerate.

    Some 10 years of records on one computer were destroyed, by a buggy Microsoft “update.”

    A break-in by my relatives who, without my knowledge or permission, hired a locksmith. Examples of disruption: saved (while drying) firewood was thrown away, privacy bushes were cut down and destroyed, paid-for financial and medical newsletters were trashed, tools were squirreled away where I couldn’t find them for six months, my houseful of books (including lots of how-to items) were randomly rearranged so I couldn’t tell if they’d been trashed or just hidden, etc, etc. I’ve since learned that break-ins by relatives during an unexpected hospital stay have happened to other close friends of mine, none of which knew each other. Some relatives were from cross-country out of state; some were merely from across the state distant. But the consistent pattern of such relatives’ arrogance is scary, destructive, bizarre, and repetitive.

    In the worst case, my friend’s house was half-gutted. Many of the working appliances were thrown away. Most of the carpet was ripped up and trashed. About half of his lifetime’s accumulation of household goods and shop tools were packed away into storage (without any inventory), and many of the rest were thrown away (again, with no inventory). The relatives decided without my friend’s knowledge or permission that his entire house needed refurbing (when in fact, only a small fraction was in need).

    The concept of doing an annual inventory when you can no longer tell where things are, or what’s been hauled off to landfill, is daunting.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that relatives during your unplanned hospital stay are the “biggest” threat to your preps, but when it happens, the damage can be disgusting — and I still don’t know how to defend against that.

    –Lewis

    • OMG! What arrogance. Seems paranoid, but posting No Trespassing signs would boost your legal rights if it happened again. I guess they thought they were being helpful. But how terribly presumptuous!

      You might have to make your boundaries firm with a little legal oomph.

    • If you have to go to the hospital, have a trusted friend or two partner with the local police and do periodic checks of your property while you away.
      Not all break in/ robberies are relatives – some can be workers, neighbors or just random people who look for easy targets, but since relatives are considered “Ok”, you need to make it clear to the authorities that these people don’t have any clearance to “redo” the property.
      Isn’t it just awful how pushy some people are!

  • Lewis, my ex did that to me. My 5 day hospital stay was her chance to get at my “hoarding” as she called it. She didn’t need a locksmith but her computer-savvy girlfriends helped her. And those were friends that I had helped thru their own difficult times. Needless to say they are all out of my life. And I am rebuilding my stocks for when SHTF

  • Oh WOW, I thought I was the only one with a family that would “rob me blind” as soon as they got the chance. I wouldn’t wish that family dynamic on anyone, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this.
    I’m definitly going to set up and maintain the yearly food and supplies audit. I superficially kept tract of foods as I rotated them but not like this. I can see, however, that this would have been very useful a few times when health issues required digging into “SHTF supplies”.
    I Thank You for the work it required to come up with all of this. I’m also going to pass your website on to a few people at my church, I know they could use it.
    Thanks Again.

    • Its sad when you can trust non family members over family.
      My neighbor and fellow prepper has a ton of food and supplies stashed away in his yard (buried) and he made a map for when the time comes to dig them up, I’m the only one he has told about the map, his son that lives next door to him doesn’t even know about it.

      • The old adage of “blood is thicker than water” will ring true no matter what is going on. It is sad that its message has been twisted to mean something else in recent years. Blood brothers and sisters are forged and not always with family members.

  • Caution on disposing of the liquid drained from old Lead Acid batteries. Not only is it Sulfuric Acid but it contains Lead Sulfate which can contaminate your soil, your septic system and YOU and your livestock and pets.

    DO NOT DUMP THIS LIQUID! Take it to a commercial disposal site or recycling business.

    Before you drain the liquid from old batteries, check the liquid level and add DISTILLED WATER to bring the level up to cover the cell plates. Then connect a recharger and give the battery a full recharge BEFORE YOU DUMP THE OLD ELECTROLYTE LIQUID! Use a voltmeter to determine when the cell has reached full charge.

    This will push as much lead back on to the plates as possible. It will not completely remove the lead from the liquid, not will it completely rebuild the lead metal plates, but it will help to start this process with the cells in as good condition as possible.

    • I saw a video on youtube where this guy poured the acid from the battery into a bucket then flushed the battery out with distilled water and all this black crap came out.
      He did several flushings until it cleared up. He then filtered the acid and put it back into the battery and topped off the cells with distilled water.
      He put the battery on a low slow charge over night and the next day he installed the battery into his truck and it worked like new (or so he claims)

  • I live in the desert. Very dry summer heat, so things I store, like cleaning wipes, must be enclosed in ziplock bags first, otherwise they are all dried out. Matches immediately go into plastic bags when I come from the store so they are dry when I need them. Boxes of paper goods I enclose in clear recycle bags first to keep them dry during our summer thunderstorms.
    When storing #10 cans, I remove the plastic lids that would be chewed up by mice. All things in my Bob get wrapped in ziplock bags.
    I like the idea of different tubs for certain situations s/a medical, loss of power.
    It has to be easier to find in a flash. Thank you for this inspiration to go through more preps than food buckets.

  • The link to the free book to print off is broken and it doesn’t give the name of the book. Is there another link?

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive
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