One of the biggest obstacles Preppers and Survivalists face in getting prepared is maintaining their emergency supplies. Often, gear and supplies are piled into a closet, or haphazardly stored in the basement. In a true emergency, trying to find items like spare batteries or first aid supplies becomes a stressful event as the items are not easily located or maintained. Getting organized and keeping track of inventory can be an overwhelming task, so let me share with you a monthly foolproof way to be proactive and better prepared.
By Stuart T, a contributing author
The First Step
First, you need to divide the tasks into manageable sections. I prefer to do my inventory checks on a monthly basis. There are two approaches:
1. You can do a few tasks every week throughout the month as you have time eventually completing it all
2. Complete everything in one weekend.
With repetition you will become more efficient and will be able to quickly complete all your checklists without spending days to do it. The more you do it, the quicker you can get it done and become more efficient. Also, the more often you are thinking about preparedness, the more holes you will punch in your plans and come up with additional solutions and training requirements. You can never be prepared for everything but you have to start somewhere.
So Let’s Get Started
First step is to organize. To make this monthly checklist quick and efficient, you must be organized. If all of your prepping gear is in a jumbled mess, it will take you longer to complete, another reason to have everything labeled, organized and ready to go for emergency. Create a set of inventory checklist (if you haven’t already) that requires inspection, use, and a maintenance plan for everything you own. Note: I usually include my monthly home, car, and dog maintenance as well. Considering they also are part of my security, shelter and mobility items, they should be included.
Data & Financial Documents:
First checklist I complete is an update of my data & financial documents. Using a scanner, I copy all paper receipts and important documents and add them to my financial/insurance files on an encrypted Kingston USB key that is kept on my key ring. I also take photos of any new gear acquired. Finally I backup all of my computers and external hard drives for offsite storage.
Bug Out Bags:
Everything is removed from the bug out bags, inspected, and used. Tarps are set up, and camp stoves used to make a meal. Depending on the season of the year and your particular climate, clothing, shelter and sleeping bags should be rotated out to meet the current local conditions. With a minimum of at least one night out a month using my Bug Out Bag, I ensure that my food and water are used and restocked monthly.
Living in the cold state of Maine, having heat in the winter is vital. I do a visual inspection of the furnace looking for leaks and verify the oil tank level. While in the basement, take a look at your dryer vent exhaust to verify it is lint free. Many house fires are started from an uncleaned dryer exhaust full of lint. Moving outside, I check my standby generator oil level and look for loose wires, oil leaks and propane fuel levels. While the generator exercises weekly on a timed schedule, I still like to flip the master breakers to the house once a month and run a full load on it to verify the generator is indeed putting out power to the house and working correctly through the transfer switch.
I start with verifying all my windows are locked and check to make sure all the fire exits are clear of items that may slow me down during a fire. All fire extinguishers are inspected for full charges, turned upside down and wacked with a mallet a few times to prevent settling of the powder. The final security check is to test my alarm system, cameras, and smoke/carbon monoxide alarms. Since the high frequency alarms drive my dog insane, I put him in the car while testing. I start with my alarm system by contacting the alarm company and putting the system in “test” mode. Once in test mode, I verify proper working operation of every sensor. After testing, I contact the alarm company to reactivate the alarm system. Next, I function test the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Batteries are changed out every six months (January & June). For the final test, I exit the house and go to my alternative safety location that I use during an emergency where I have to leave the house due to fire or other house emergency. When I return, I verify that my video camera system recorded me leaving and returning.
Also Read: Weapons Security – Bug In or Bug Out
I use a two tier approach for my emergency water supplies. I have daily water usage and long-term water storage. The daily use is twenty, one-gallon water bottles that are used and filled with fresh water from my reverse osmosis filter as needed. My long-term water supply of several 55 gallon drums is rotated once a year. I test every single filter/purifier to verify proper operation.
My short-term food is inventoried, and rotated as needed. My long-term food is rotated annually depending on the item and length of time stored. With long-term food stored in five-gallon food grade buckets, it is easy to forget and not check them.
I start with charging all power sources including rechargeable batteries and radios with internal batteries. Non-rechargeable batteries are inventoried and replaced as needed. Once all the batteries are charged, I inspect and test all my radios by making radio contacts to verify proper operation. I also test all my antennas by checking the SWR to make sure each one meets proper specs.
Both my “OTC Medicine Bag” and “Trauma Bag” are inspected and inventoried. Medicine that has an expiration date is verified and replaced as needed. This includes my First Aid Kits in the my vehicle as well as my Bug Out Bag.
I start with the basics of car maintenance. I verify all fluid levels, and top off as necessary. Twice a year I replace my windshield wipers, and verify I have an extra pair stored for the next replacement. Battery voltage is noted and drivetrain v belts are checked. I confirm that my air compressor is working properly and top off the tires as needed. All emergency and recovery gear is removed and inspected. Food and water are rotated out monthly. Finally the vehicle exterior and interior is cleaned, including the windshield to allow for maximum visibility.
By completing monthly maintenance inspections of your emergency gear, you will become more familiar with what you own, where it is located, and will be confident it will be in working order when you need it. The ideas listed above are partial examples of my own monthly checklists. Feel free to add, subtract or make your own lists to meet your needs. The most important thing is that you take the time to inspect and maintain your emergency supplies. While not always the most fun task to complete on a monthly basis, it is an important one to complete.