Although you might consider yourself a “prepper,” unless you conduct an annual review of your plans and gear, you are not fully prepared. Emergency situations and disasters can occur within the blink of an eye, often without any forewarning. If you have gear in your kits that has passed the expiration date, you have difficulty locating specific gear within your kit, have gear that isn’t properly stored and ready to go at a moment’s notice, or have no idea how to use certain pieces of gear, then your preparations are incomplete.
Schedule Review Date:
As humans, we prefer routines and habits; it makes life easier to manage. This applies to everything we do, so schedule an annual date to review your prepping plans and gear.
The important part of this process is sticking to the plan. Life has a way of throwing us curveballs, and if we’re not careful we will spend days swinging at them and forget all about keeping our date and establishing an annual habit of reviewing our preps.
When deciding on a date to conduct this review, take local risks into consideration. For instance, if you live on the eastern seaboard of the United States, it would be wise to schedule this review for a day in early May; this will get you ready for hurricane season. Similarly, if you live in the Midwest along “Tornado Alley,” then schedule your review date for early February since tornado season usually kicks off sometime in March.
Inspect & Organize:
The prepper standard suggests that our plans and gear be ready to roll at all times. However, very few “preppers” actively maintain this standard. The hustle and bustle of daily life can get in the way. You grab something out of your kit to use for the day and forget to return it to its proper place when finished.
During your annual review, strip all of your gear out of your kit; do each kit individually to prevent mixing up your gear and getting it in the wrong bag. This will refresh your memory about which piece of gear is in which kit. It will also help you identify any missing pieces to the prep puzzle, such as that water bottle you took out last week to go hiking and left in the trunk of the car.
This is also the time test fire all functional gear. Flashlights and radios need to work, knives need to open and close smoothly, those water filters need to perform as expected, etc. However, if you have single use gear, such as signal flares, tinder pouches, etc., you should refrain from testing these.
If the gear you have requires batteries, check to make sure the batteries are not expired or dead. You should also check dates on any medications, medical supplies, food, fuel, etc., and replace any that are expired. If you can replace battery powered equipment with hand crank gear, or solar powered products, then consider doing so, it will be more beneficial to you, all things considered.
Create Running Inventory:
We recommend creating a spreadsheet to document all of your prep supplies. This will assist you by preventing duplicate purchases where unnecessary.
You should also create a spreadsheet for documenting all of your valuables; HDTV’s, jewelry, firearms, family keepsakes, etc. This will make filing claims faster and easier to accomplish should you ever need to.
We also recommend creating a video document of your inventory. This can be done with a cell phone camera as you walk through your house. The video can then be stored on multiple thumb drives and kept safe.
While you’re creating these inventories and documents, be sure to annotate any and all serial numbers for high value items. You may also want to engrave your own hidden identification marks on these items, and documenting those as well. This will also be beneficial should you ever need to file a claim.
Practice What You Prep:
Although it makes no sense for people to purchase prepping gear, stuff it in a bag, and never use it, that is exactly what a good deal of “preppers” actually do; they buy the gear, put it in a kit, and then stare at it blankly when it comes time to use it for its intended purpose.
The only gear in your bag that should be in original packaging is that gear which is intended for single use. Any piece of gear that can be used more than once, should be out of the original packaging and show signs of being “used.”
If you do not practice with the gear at your disposal, it will not be as beneficial as it could be when it really matters. The same can be said about your survival skills, many of which are perishable; if you only practice them during the initial learning phase, you will forget them when a disaster strikes.
Once you’ve inspected and reviewed your gear, it’s time to put it back in the appropriate kits, and practice your actual bug-out/bug-in plan. Simulate a disaster taking place and run through your exit and survival strategy. Identify holes in your plan and look for ways to plug them.
If you really want to maximize your preparedness plan, then incorporate your gear into your daily habits. For example, instead of walking 3-5 miles a day in athletic apparel, put on the bugout clothes, grab your fully loaded bugout bag, and make that 5 mile walk. This will let you know just how prepared you are, and help get you in better shape for an unexpected event.
Update Important Things:
Most people think of prepping as an activity undertaken by those who believe in the possibility of zombies, or a consideration for people who live in disaster prone areas. This could not be further from the truth. Prepping is also about getting ready for the inevitable events and possibilities associated with normal life, such as the death of a loved one, going through a divorce, discovering serious medical conditions, etc.
When you’re conducting your annual review, take a few minutes to go over the important things associated with your everyday life; wills, insurance policy beneficiaries, power of attorney, etc. The last thing you want to do is leave a mess of legal stuff for your loved ones to deal with in the event you die unexpectedly.
Now that we’ve provided some simple suggestions to get you started, the rest is up to you; get that calendar out and figure out when you should be scheduling a review of your preps and gear!