It's wise to prepare for the unknown. If you already have an emergency kit, that's a great first step. Your kit likely contains essential supplies such as water, batteries, tools, food rations, first aid products and clothing — but most of these supplies need to be checked or restocked periodically - at a minimum, every year or two. Take some time to do a quick evaluation every so often to determine if you’re missing anything or need to restock any expired items.
Check Emergency Tools and Plans
Keep your flashlight powered at all times and keep extra batteries on hand. Batteries are an essential staple of an emergency preparedness kit. On average, they have a shelf life of about seven years. Store your batteries in a cool, dry place in the original packaging if possible, and swap them out for new ones every few years.
Besides being able to power your tools, you also need to make sure they work. Inspect flashlights, lanterns, emergency radios, and any other tools or devices to ensure in advance that they're in proper working order.
Don't forget about that disaster plan you so painstakingly outlined. Update road closures, contacts and phone numbers. Change location points and phone numbers as needed, and inform your family members of the changes. Adjust evacuation plans and other details with the most imminent threat in mind, whether it's a blizzard, tsunami, drought or a camping trip gone awry. Every time you inspect your emergency kit, go over your plans and examine them in detail or, if you had previously experienced such an emergency, see what you many have learned that could help you improve your kit and your plans.
Rotate Your Emergency Supplies
It's important to swap out clothes periodically. If you packed your emergency kit full of winter gear and end up needing it in the middle of summer, you may find your emergency kit to be impractical.
Inspect your clothes on a seasonal basis, so you can avoid getting caught out in the cold. If winter is approaching, change out those shorts and tank tops for a good pair of insulated boots and a winter coat. Rather than being fashionable, opt for useful clothing, including hiking boots, running shoes, and cargo shorts or other items that offer storage and durability, such as jeans. Use your space wisely, and pack only those items that are necessary.
If it's been a while since you packed your emergency supplies, check the expiration dates on all canned food, boxed goods and other rations at least once a year. Throw away expired items. You can also rotate commonly-purchased foods between your pantry and your kit to keep your supplies fresh and avoid wasting food.
Know Your Emergency Tools
That all-in-one pocket tool might as well not be included in your survival kit if you don't know how to use it. If you're stocked up with unused tools or gadgets, still in the package, it's time to test them out.
Familiarize yourself with all the items in your kit to avoid fumbling when the need is urgent. Inspect flashlights, emergency radios, first aid kits and all other items to be sure they work properly, and then practice with them. You need to be able to use them adeptly if the unexpected occurs.
Practice and experiment with your equipment during disaster drills. If an item in your emergency kit doesn't perform well, be sure to replace it with a more efficient model.
It’s so important to keep yourself and your loved ones safe when disaster strikes. The key to being prepared is to know your plans, know your gear, keep your kit current and always be prepared to make adjustments to face the most imminent threat.
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