Preparing for a crisis, regardless of what it is, requires organization. Far too often in our drive to stockpile supplies, we do so without a plan. We just buy ‘stuff.’ This can often create a bit of chaos as we begin to run out of room, or at least begin filling storage space that could be better utilized. You can wind up with a lopsided prep and a high risk of spoilage. Leading up to the 2016 residential election, I was guilty of all of this and more. Instead of doing my usual targeted purchases once or twice a week, I was hitting the store nearly everyday, loading up as much as I could carry home. Rarely, did I return home from work without a trunk full of toilet paper, bottled water, canned goods and of course more shelving to store it all. I began buying items we rarely if ever used ‘just in case.’ Just how many cans of vegetable soup can 2 people eat? I was on a buying frenzy based on fear. Fear can be a great motivator, but can also lead to poor decision making. My once neat and organized bunker looked less like a pantry and more like a flea market.
Following a long sigh of relief that we had actually dodged the President Hillary bullet, we (I) realized or least began to acknowledge some of my mistakes. It was time to get back to basics and take inventory of all this stuff.
Canned goods, as a practice, should be marked with their expiration date clearly visible, preferably in permanent marker and organized in such a manner that first-in-first-out becomes simple and easy. In areas of extreme excess, it better to donate some to a food pantry than just let it go to waste.
Dried beans and rice needed to be marked as well, with some going into Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers then sealed in buckets to avoid losing them to spoilage. Yes, these items have a long shelf life, but considering the sheer amount I purchased, a long term solution was necessary.
Water doesn’t have a really long shelf life, but we drink a LOT of bottled water and the 300 2 liters filled with water will remain stored to be used as grey water in any future crisis.
Paper goods, plastic utensils, and cleaning supplies will basically last indefinitely if stored properly and to be honest, I should have purchased more than I did as we have gone through some of it far faster than I would have imagined.
Miscellaneous items such as batteries, emergency candles, flashlights, kitchen matches, lighters, charcoal, etc. will last a long time and again, I will actually add more to the existing stash.
Medical supplies were a pretty big fail on my part. While I did buy some over the counter flu remedies, bandages, aspirin, etc, this was a really sparse amount compared to what I now feel we should have on hand. A recent 3 week bout with the flu for both of us depleted some of those supplies pretty quickly. This will be a much bigger focus going forward.
Personal items such as bath soap, razors, shaving cream, tooth paste, deodorant, etc. weren’t excessive, but very unbalanced. We have revised our list and desired inventory and will work to improve this area.
Guns and ammo: you betcha. I loaded up heavy, but again, with a long shelf life and frequent use (I am a firearms instructor) this isn’t an area of concern. However, going forward I will be more focused on what types I purchase and how they fill a particular need.
Going forward we are sticking to a much more organized approach to our preps, focusing on areas we find depleted or lacking, while working through the excesses we created in some areas. So how about your preps, are you organized in what you are purchasing, are you balanced in the approach or just buying a bunch of stuff? If you have made mistakes, and I’m willing to bet you have, it’s OK; just work to be better. Remember the quote, “If you aren’t making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.