Friday, August 17, 2012

Maintaining your Preparedness Supplies

SORRY, but it's not enough just to get your supplies together, stash them in a closet and forget them.  You need to maintain them. Every day you are learning more about what you may need and every day what you have is aging.   National Preparedness Month is coming up -- September.  What a great time to go through your stuff, review how it is organized, toss stuff that no longer makes sense or add items that you've decided you'll need.

This year I decided to get a head of the calendar and start this annual maintenance process in August.  I keep 'layers' of preparedness supplies, so I'm going through each layer.  You can think of the layers as being related either by timeline or location.  For example, I carry a flashlight, flat military can opener (P51) and pocket knife in my purse. I almost always have a water bottle and protein bar as well. If I'm somewhere and the power goes out, I can find my way out and get to my car.  The next layer is there.

Once at my car, I have enough basic supplies to either shelter in place for 24 hours or change shoes and walk home. So what do these include?  In addition to the shoes (and socks) there's a pair of jeans and a top, a gallon of water, a 3600 calorie food bar, a tooth brush and paste, a small first aid kit that includes a mask and pair of gloves, a small LED lantern with AM/FM radio, a small tarp, a small day pack, and a fleece sleeping bag liner. In winter, I add a jacket, hat and gloves. Nothing fancy, but enough to see me through to the end of the emergency or to get home.

Then the 72+-hour kit at home, another layer.  Each of these needs to be inspected for damage or signs of age, batteries and band-aids rotated, expiration dates checked, etc.. Oh, and for the items that should function, like flashlight and radio, make sure they work and that you can get a strong signal. September is a great time to do this in the desert southwest.  The summer heat takes a toll, things melt or explode, so washing the clothing and rotating the food bar and batteries.  I change the water monthly -- rotate it inside and drink it or use it on plants.

I once made the mistake of forgetting that in summer, Tucson is 2000 feet lower and 10 degrees hotter than my home. Everything liquid in my supplies exploded in the hot car trunk. Of course, I was parked at the airport, so it all baked for a few days before I found the mess. It smelled like a cross between a brewery and an outhouse. Not pretty driving home or cleaning it out.

Remember to check supplies frequently (not JUST every September) in case you, too, have exploded or frozen stuff. When you need to depart from your routine, remember what you have in your vehicle or personal carry items and adjust accordingly.  This is all part of the frugality of keeping what you have. Not having to replace something damaged through lack of attention is the most frugal way to stay prepared!


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