Food, water and shelter are the top three requirements for survival during an emergency. We will presume shelter is available, but the issue is lack of available space to store your supplies. Lack of adequate storage space is one of the largest obstacles to becoming prepared for an emergency.
My favorite means of food preservation is pressure canning. I love to make meals that are ready to eat as well as stock for a variety of recipes. Unfortunately, canning jars require space you may not have. Instead, try retort canning, a process that uses flexible pouches that will take up less space. The pouches will not be rodent proof like the jars are, but you will save space and weight, as a box of full quart-sized jars can weigh over 25 pounds.
A wide variety of ready-made food in pouches are available in stores. As Jeff Johnson and I discussed on a podcast, dried food is available in sealed pouches that take up far less space then home-canned or store-bought canned goods. Place these items in totes and store them anywhere, just be mindful the container is rodent proof.
Rather than storing large quantities of cans of soup, consider buying the dried mix in pouches, or bullion cubes or powder. Add other freeze-dried or dehydrated meats and vegetables, and you have a meal. If you have purchased emergency food buckets, considering storing the packets in drawers, cabinets, even under cushions or a mattress. Use the bucket for items you want to take with you on a trip or if you need to evacuate. Again, make sure the bags won't be subject to rodents getting to them.
Water is the most crucial of survival needs. Plan for a minimum of 3 gallons of water per person in the household per day. Water requirements will take up the most space, but you can get creative and open cases of bottled water and squirrel them away where you have extra space – just keep records detailing where you have put supplies.
Gallon jugs tend to leak, so be careful what you store around them. Ask me how I know! If you can store at least a few days' water, do that. Have on hand collapsible
water storage containers, and fill them when you are alerted to a possible shortage. In the event of a hurricane, if evacuation is not necessary, you will have plenty of time to fill these collapsible containers, and the storage space you will need long term will be minimal. I highly recommend keeping a water bladder on hand; you can store 100 gallons of water in your bathtub when the time arises, providing you have ample time to fill it. When it is empty, it takes up minimal space. The caveat here is that you must be able to fill it before the water is no longer available.
If you know you will have a reliable source of water, have the means to disinfect and filter what you collect. You can purchase or build your own water filter; be sure to disinfect it by either boiling or treating. Water treatment tablets will take less space than bottles of bleach.
Save space by stocking up on products that have multiple functions. Rather than collecting a variety of cleaning supplies, vinegar and Baking Soda can be used to make a household cleaner, as well a for cooking, laundry and even dental care. Coconut oil can be used for cooking, skin and dental care as well. Charcoal can be used for cooking outdoors and for making activated charcoal, useful for treating poisoning and for making a DIY water filter.
Some reorganization will help you realize you have much more space than you thought. If you have clothes you wear seasonally, consider storing them in vacuum sealed bags. Hangers for multiple items for shirts, pants and belts are huge space savers. Go through you closet and either donate or barter clothes you no longer wear.
Make sure food items you are storing are those you or your family will consume, and rotate your canned goods for freshness. If you want more space consider replacing what you use with food products in pouches. Store goods bought in bulk in smaller vacuum-sealed bags or containers.
2020 revealed just how quickly the public will make panic purchases, toilet paper being the most egregious example. Panicked buyers left stores with grocery carts stuffed with packages of toilet paper. Reorganize your bathroom and consider a holding stand you can place next to the toilet, freeing up bathroom cabinet space.
Weed sprayers can be used for hygiene, which is something to consider given the run on toilet paper we saw in 2020. Storing excessive amounts of toilet paper takes a considerable amount of space, can be a fire hazard, and is a haven for rodents. Fill the sprayer with water placed in empty soap bottles so you will have water ready for washing without using your drinking water supply.
We're all aware of totes that can fit under the bed. Crates or 5 gallon buckets can be used as a platform for a mattress, and you can get creative with a bed skirt or blankets so no one will ever know! Using kitchen, end or coffee tables works great also. Drape linen or table cloths over them and no one will be the wiser! You can create a table using crates; simply cover them with a decorative cloth.
Items like tarps can be stored under your mattress. Hanging shoe holders are a great way to store miscellaneous items; since you can hang one in your bathroom, it may be a good way to store medications and other first aid items. Hang them on kitchen, pantry or closet walls for extra can openers, spices, gun cleaning supplies, etc.
Need an ottoman? Get one that has storage space. Shelves over doorways add to your storage capacity; decorative baskets will make them placed where they can be seen more visually appealing.
I've heard pretty much every reason or excuse from people not wanting to be prepared for an emergency; some don't know where to start, others say they don't have the funds. Whatever your concern, we have an answer.
Please listen to our podcast on Anchor.fm and check out my book on self-reliance, The
Lost Frontier Handbook! I hope you find this information helpful, and I always look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions.