Inspect Your Gear
Preparing an emergency preparedness kit, bug out bag, or get home bag is not a onetime event. In order to make sure your gear is ready to go at a moment’s notice, you should be conducting periodic inspections of your gear; even better would be periodic testing of your gear to make sure you know how to use it.
- Seasonal Gear Swaps: Your inspections should be seasonal; making sure you swap out gear that isn’t seasonally appropriate. There’s no need for a winter coat when it’s 100 degrees outside.
- Rotating Food Supplies: If you have a stockpile of food and water in your emergency preparedness kit, these supplies need to be periodically rotated out of your bags. Check all expiration dates and remove anything that’s getting close to its expiration.
- Checking Batteries: Flashlights, emergency radios or anything that takes batteries needs to be inspected. Over time batteries can leak, causing damage to your gear and making it useless during an emergency. Invest in rechargeable batteries, and make sure to throw them back on the charger every couple of months. Something like the Goal Zero Solar Battery Charger is also a good idea for your bags.
Know your Gear
I mentioned this above, but its importance cannot be understated. Having a bag full of emergency gear is great; having a bag full of emergency gear that you’ve never actually used is pointless.
- Before any piece of gear goes into your stockpile of supplies, you need to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of that gear.
- Take the time to practice and train with your gear during all of your emergency preparedness drills – Yes, you should be conducting routine emergency preparedness drills.
- Don’t be afraid to swap it out: If a piece of gear isn’t right, or doesn’t perform well during testing, get rid of it. All too often people keep garbage gear in their bags; sometimes because they don’t want to waste money replacing it, and sometimes because they don’t want to admit they bought something that doesn’t work. Now is the time to admit your mistake, and rectify it. Just be glad you discovered the problem before it actually became a problem.
Adjust your Plans
Every time your do your gear inspections, you should be going over your emergency preparedness plans as well; looking for any weaknesses, and then adjusting your plans based on the most likely current threats.
- Study your evacuation plans: Has anything changed since you developed your initial plans? Are their new routes that you can take; or problems with routes that you previously planned on using, like new road construction that might make it harder to get out of Dodge?
- Rethink what current threats you might face: Again, has anything changed since you first started planning? If it has, make adjustments now.
- What’s changed in your personal life? I can almost guarantee things have changed since you first packed your emergency preparedness kits. Whether it’s a job change that calls for new get home plans, or a medical condition which could cause you to completely change your way of thinking about emergencies, you need to adjust for those life changes that happen to all of us.