Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Updating Your Emergency Preparedness Plan - Guest Post by Lee Flynn

Updating Your Emergency Preparedness Plan

From time to time, people are reminded that their comfortable lifestyles could be torn from them by societal catastrophes or natural disasters. This has led many Americans to create emergency preparedness plans for themselves and their families. They often stash several months' worth of food, medicine, ammo, and other supplies. However, building an emergency stockpile is not a "set it and forget it" affair. There are some things that must be done in order to keep your stockpile up to date and reliable.

Rotate Food and Medicine Supplies

Many preppers boast of their enormous stockpile of food, but what they don't know is that their plans could be falling apart right under their noses. This is because even freeze dried foods commonly found in survival stockpiles can go bad. If they are not sealed properly, a spike in humidity can turn freeze dried foods into a moldy mess. Some preppers store their food stockpiles in the basement, where they may be vulnerable to flooding or pests. Even if the foods are completely sealed off from moisture, the nutritional value degrades over time. Rotating your food supply every few months will mitigate these problems.

Medications can go bad as well. Certain active ingredients break down over long periods of time, rendering the medications ineffective or even dangerous. Consult the packaging of your medications to find out the expiration date and shelf life. Remember that the rigorous conditions of a bugout situation could exacerbate any existing medical conditions, necessitating a higher dosage of medicine.

Keep Your Escape Route Up to Date

Every disaster preparedness plan should include an escape route that leads away from populated areas. Many people plan out such a route, but they sometimes forget to test it periodically. If your plan is to camp out in a secluded forest, your entire plan may be thrown into disarray if the forest has been bulldozed to make way for a shopping center. It is important to perform a "dry run" once in a while to make sure that your escape route is still usable. Moving to a new house can also necessitate updating your route; you must find a new one that is easily accessible from your new home. Neglecting to do these things could spell doom for your emergency preparedness plan before you even get out of town.

Maintain a Healthy Ammo Supply

If shooting is a hobby of yours, you may find yourself grabbing a few boxes of ammo from your bugout bag on range day while resolving to replace it later. This can be tempting during periods of high ammo prices and sporadic availability, but it is crucial to remember that the ammo in your bugout bag is only to be used for the most severe emergencies. You can avoid this situation by planning your ammo usage ahead of time. For example, if you are planning a trip to the range to shoot your new handgun, stock up on 9mm ammo a few days before to avoid depleting your emergency stockpile.

Remember that ammo has a limited shelf life. If stored for excessive periods of time or in undesirable conditions, it can become unreliable or unstable. Corrosion is also a concern; rusted ammo is likely to cause feed issues in your firearm. Ammo should ideally be stored in watertight and airtight containers. If you live in a coastal area or any other place with a humid climate, tossing a few packets of silica gel in your ammo containers will help it stay dry and free of corrosion. Keep the containers out of extreme temperatures if possible. The shelf life of ammo depends on the climate and storage conditions, but a general guideline is that supplies should be rotated at least once a year.

Update the Plan for New Household Members

Getting married, having a child, or taking in a relative are all events that require expanding your disaster preparedness plan. You will have to calculate their probable food consumption and add a sufficient amount to your stockpile. Be sure to store extra clothing, tools, and firearms (if appropriate) for the new household member. Take any special needs or medical conditions into consideration as well.

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