Every now and then it’s a great idea to "tune-up" your supplies. Many preppers have a "Bug Out Bag" or a "Flee Bag" they keep stocked and ready to grab in the event they have to evacuate. Since emergencies don’t always wait until we’re home, mine is a "Get Home Bag" in case something happens when I’m away from home and need a few things with which to survive so I can get there. In my case I often have one of my grandkids along wherever I am and sooner or later one of them needs a Band-Aid, or a Tylenol (or similar pill) or I find myself using my flashlight or someone needs a knife. You get the picture.
Now would be a good time to bring your bag to the kitchen table, (tell your wife I said it was ok and that you’ll clean it all up right away) empty it out and go through your stuff. Be on the lookout for jerky that’s way past it’s "best by" date, or stale crackers and any other food that is no longer edible for whatever reason. Make a note to replenish and add to the food items you carry with you. Check out those little packages of tuna and crackers the next time you’re at the store. Some contain mayonnaise and even relish to mix and put on the crackers. They’re a great snack and come in handy when the grandkids need a snack even when there’s no emergency. Hey when a kid is hungry and you’re out somewhere, that IS an emergency! I personally carry a couple cans of Spam in my bag. Most of the American population goes into "Yuck!" mode when Spam is mentioned, but when sliced and fried, I convinced my kids it was "camping bacon". Some folks I met from New Zealand had purchased two cases of this delicacy and were shipping it home (at considerable expense) because they couldn’t get Spam at home. Don’t turn up your nose too quickly, it is protein and stores handily for a reasonable period of time.
Then pick up a few extra Band-Aids and re-supply your First Aid kit. You DO have a First Aid kit don’t you? Research shows that 44% of households in the U.S. don’t own a First Aid kit. Make sure those little bags of gauze pads and other items are still sealed and not torn open or have otherwise lost their sterile integrity. If your insect repellent is of the aerosol variety, check to insure it hasn’t all leaked out for some reason. Consider buying the little pads that are just wiped on the skin. They don’t take up as much room and aren’t as messy in the event something has accidentally pushed the button on the spray can.
Check your flashlight to make sure the batteries are good. Consider carrying extras in your bag. Seems like my flashlight gets used more often than any other item in my bag. So I keep it handy and replace the batteries often.
Now check out your supplies inventory in the house. Same thing goes, if you’ve "borrowed" from your toilet paper supply, restock. Make sure your supplies are bug-free, rodent-free, moisture-free and otherwise intact. Your emergency lighting, cooking implements, and other equipment should be tested, cleaned and stored away in that special location until needed. Sometimes peace of mind is as simple as a quick tune-up.
As always send your questions or comments to email@example.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of "Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us."