07 September 2011

Prep30: Perform routine checks and maintenance for your preparedness

Assuming you're following along with all of these Prep30 posts, then you're getting lots of supplies stored. That's great! You're getting prepared and heading toward self-reliance. As you do so, it's important to establish good habits of checking and renewing you gear and supplies on a regular schedule:
  1. When storing anything perishable or consumable, it's a good idea to mark it with the date you store it. Marking your own date gives you a consistent, visible point of reference when reviewing your supplies. That way, you can more easily practice a first-in, first-out rotation of supplies. Keep a Sharpie or other permanent marker in your storage area to facilitate marking the date.

  2. For your food storage, consistently rotating your supplies will keep them fresh an maximize your food's usefulness. If you're storing the foods your regularly use anyway, then you should have no problems with food going bad or expiring.

  3. Another helpful thing to consider is using a can rack. This is basically an angled shelf that allows cans to be fed into one side and come out the other, ensuring food rotation. These can range be homemade (like this simple cardboard rack or this large wooden rack) or you can purchase them professionally made (there are many to choose from, like this small rack or this large version).

  4. As noted in the previous Prep30 post on storing water, you should only plan on storing your water for 6 months or so. After that, you should rotate your water supply, by using it for drinking, your pet's water, gardening, etc. (You can also add a little chlorine bleach to your water supply as an added precaution; for information on how to do this, along with more tips on water storage, visit this page from the Colorado State University's Extension.)

  5. For your emergency kit(s), get into a habit of inventorying them quarterly, or at least every 6 months. Unpack them and go through all the items to make sure everything is still serviceable or not expired (in the case of perishables). If any food will expire before your next inventory, rotate it out of the kit into your pantry, and put new food in. Do the same with water. When replacing the consumables in your emergency kit, use supplies that have the longest shelf life of what you have available. This will make most of your inventories go faster, since you won't have to rotate the supplies as often.

  6. Perhaps most importantly, establish some kind of reminders for the above checks. At the very least, mark the schedule inventory dates on a printed calendar for the rest of the year. If you use an electronic schedule, a good option is to set up appointments or tasks in your electronic calendar or task scheduling tool. However you need to do it, just make sure that you're reminded to check and maintain your supplies!

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