Ready for Inspection? Let’s Check All
You spent a lot of time and money preparing. You have a food stockpile that’s growing, you have a fully-packed bug out bag… you even have a get home bag and a trunk full of survival items. But what if SHTF today and you needed those preps? Are you sure your lighters will work? Are you sure your food is not spoiled? You need a thorough inspection and, if need be, you might have to replace some of your supplies with new or fresh ones. I know some of your preps may be hidden under the bed or at the back of a closet and going through them is painful… but this has to be done.
With a spoiled food supply you’ll have a hard time surviving for more than a few days, when real hunger starts kicking in. Although if the rule of threes says you can stay alive up to 3 weeks, you’ll have trouble thinking and operating long before that. Here’s what you should do:
- Check the food inside your bug out bag. Check the expiration date and, if possible, replace it with “fresh” food (that’s a misnomer, I’m referring to “other” freeze dried, noodle packs, hard candy, dried fruit, trail mix etc.) and eat the one you’re about to replace. If you notice funny smells when you open it, you should probably throw it away.
- Check the food inside your bug out vehicle. The trunk of your car can get pretty hot, which is why you should rotate the food you keep in there at least every 6 months.
- Check your stockpile. Thoroughly examine each can for bulging, rust and leaks. Needless to say, you should check the expiration date. Although people have reported canned food can be safe to eat long before that, you don’t really want to take any chances. If disaster stroke today, you’d want your food to last as long as possible, and consume as much fresh food as you can find.
If kept under less than ideal conditions, water will develop algae and bacteria. This isn’t a problem if you can purify it, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make sure it’s drinkable and replace it with fresh water if the answer to this question is negative.
Now, if the water tastes a little stale, that’s fine; it just needs a little oxygen. You can move it around between two containers for that. But if it smells like rotten eggs, you should use it to water your garden, replace it with fresh water and improve storage conditions.Water should be kept in a cool, dark place, in BPA-free containers. A basement is ideal but, if you don’t have that, a pantry will do.
What if you’re bugging out and none of your lighters work? You’re stuck finding alternate ways to start a fire but, really, you should get new lighters. Try each of them just to see if they work because even the best lighters can let you down. Fortunately, they are dirt-cheap and easy to replace.
Check Your Electronics
Batteries should be your main concern. Some of them corrode and leak over time, which is why it’s important to keep them out of your electronics. Even better, keep them in battery cases. If you don’t want such a case in your bug out bag for instance, you can keep them in zipper bags (you can never have enough of these in your BOB, anyway).
Next, it’s time to check each device one by one. Turn each flashlight on. Check to see if the mini solar panel and hand crank are working on your emergency radio. Make sure each button is functional.
Though I am not a doctor, I do feel I have to warn you to take the expiration date of meds more seriously. I know a lot of folks suggest you can still use them past it… let me remind you you’re NOT in a post-collapse situation. If you can afford it, you should replace your over-the-counter medication.
Pay special attention to the medicine that’s stored in the first aid kits inside your survival bags. High temperatures decrease potency and shelf life, particularly if stored in a hot trunk.
One trick I’ve learned is to keep them inside a wide-mouth thermos, which will keep the temperature a few degrees lower than the one outside. Not a perfect solution but it’s better than nothing (and you can use that thermos for other purposes if need be).
Meds should NOT be stored in the bathroom because of moisture and heat. Just like your food stockpile, they should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place such as a basement or a pantry.
Did you know bleach has a shelf life of 6 months or less? Though you may still be able to use it to purify water after that, it’s probably best not to take any chances. Bleach that’s over 4 months old needs to be replaced.
Are your knives in top shape? Do they need sharpening and or oiling? Are they showing signs of rust, possibly because you didn’t properly clean and dry them the last time you used them? Check not just your survival knife but also your kitchen knives and your folding knife.
Other Items to Inspect
Pretty much everything else should be analyzed, including:
- water tanks (for leaks)
- all your guns and alternative weapons
- canisters with flammable fluids (such as gasoline)
- rainwater harvesting system
- gardening tools and equipment
- all the emergency exits (make sure there’s nothing blocking your way out)
I hope you understand the importance of inspecting all your preps from time to time. Do it once and you’ll see it can also be fun. It’s also an opportunity to better pack your BOB items and re-arrange the items in your basement.