As our preps rely on us storing things we need to be pretty sure how we are going to do that correctly. Storing things, anything, is not just sticking it in the loft or in the shed and leaving it until we need it. Storing and preserving them for use requires careful handling.
There are five things that determine storage duration.
Food needs to kept in a consistently cool, dark and dry environment as well as protected from air and vermin. If any or all of those are not met then the food and water deteriorates. The variance from the baseline dictates how long the stores will last as for every 10 degrees we can lower the temperature we double the storage life. Most of us make the mistake of putting our stores in the loft where it may be dry and dark but the temprature wildly fluctuates during the seasons and there are sometime mice and birds which can ruin some of your stores. Although items like tins and jars may survive vermin better than bags of flour we must remember that temperature and moisture can still damage them. If you can open your stores, replace the oxygen with oxygen obsorbers or an inert gas and reseal. Different food can be treated slightly differently by canning or vacuum sealing, find out what is best for each foodstuff, but the principle is the same, protect the food from air and moisture.
Storing water has its own issue as light will allow algae to grow and means the water must be treated before use. Water must be stored in food grade containers as otherwise the plastics leech into the water making it undrinkable. Water stored for drinking must be kept cool and away from light and make sure each container is full before it goes away for storage. If you think it is suitable you can ensure your containers are blacked out with paint. Myself, I would rather see the growth so I can prepare to treat it before use.
Medical kit also needs to be stored correctly. Any medicines or treated items, like bandages, also need to be stored like food. This will keep the active ingredients active longer. Untreated items like bandages and tools just need to be kept clean and sterile.
Electrical items just need to be kept dry and away from light. Light doesn’t do much but it does fade the control panels and any attached bits of paper. You might need to read them one day so keep them away from light. As I keep my electronic equipment locked away in a metal faraday cage I ensure that vermin can’t get in, water is protected by being kept indoors and it keeps light away. I like wrapping what I can in metal foil for extra protection and, with the smaller electronic gear I fit them in the anti static envelopes that circuit boards come in, before putting them into the faraday cage.
Oils and fuels need to be kept in a cool dark place and protected from oxygen. Make sure you buy full sealed bottles and any that you fill up ensure that the containers are filled to the top to minimise oxygen in the container.
Ammunition must be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. If you can buy the ammunition is sealed containers. It is filled with an inert gas. If not then treat them as food. Replace the air with oxygen obsorbers and seal them with a vacuum sealer. This protects the rounds from moisture and the metal from oxygen.
General items like clothes, tools, bedding and other such items just have to be protected from moisture and vermin. Vermin will rip them apart to make their own nests whilst moisture will make them rot. Light will make them fade but that may or may not be an issue. Store in the dark if you don’t want them to fade.
So it should be easy for you to look at each area in your home where you can store things, measure the temperature, how much light and how wet it gets before you decide what you store in there. Don’t just put things anywhere and forget about them.
You should also be aware that once you go a few feet down into the earth the temperature remains pretty constant, it is cold and dark and all you have to do is protect your stores from moisture. A wheelie bin makes a nice storage container for underground and incidentaly makes a nice cache for any item.