28 June 2012

The Vocabulary of Self-Reliance: FIFO

FIFO: First-In, First-Out. This term has slightly different meanings, depending on where it's used.

One meaning is similar to "First Come, First Served," and refers to processing a queue, whether it's a line of customers or a list of tasks. Essentially, it dealing with the first person/item, then the next on the list, and so on. In other words, the prioritization is just the order that things or people are added.

In warehousing and inventory control, FIFO refers to "rotating your stock," which means using the oldest materials first. The goods that are the oldest were the "first in," and should therefore be used next, e.g., be the "first out."

From a self-reliance and preparedness point of view, FIFO usually relates to this latter meaning, particularly regarding the storage of food or any other stored material that degrades over time (e.g., bleach, gasoline, etc.). Generally, following FIFO is a good practice for virtually all stored goods, even those that aren't perishable.

FIFO is very common in discussions about food storage. In fact, can racks like those pictured above help facilitate FIFO. They are 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 these larger versions).

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