Spring Cleaning Tips for Preppers

by Becky BlantonMarch 7, 2017

When an emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam in California threatened to give way and flood the town of Oroville right before Valentine’s Day, people panicked. More than 100,000 residents were given less than an hour’s notice to evacuate their homes. Most threw what they could grab into their cars and hit the road with the clothes on their backs and the family pets, few had what they really needed.

It’s the kind of nightmare scenario an unprepared family dreads, but the kind of thing those who prepare for natural disasters face with calm — unless of course their bug-out bags, or what FEMA calls a “grab-and-go” or “survival” bag, have been sitting around for years untouched.
You don’t have to be a survivalist or doomsday prepper to stock up on water, food, and supplies to help you and your family survive an unexpected disaster. While America probably won’t be invaded by foreign troops, aliens, or zombies anytime soon, the chances of an earthquake, fire, flood, natural disaster, or even electrical outage lasting days or weeks are very likely. If you’re one of the millions of people who do prepare for disaster, you need to consider spring cleaning your supplies and preparations too because it seems natural disasters aren’t only increasing every year, they’re “skyrocketing.”

The Borgen Project reports:
“In 1970, the average of natural disasters that were reported was 78; in 2004, this number jumped to 348. According to AccuWeather, since 1990, natural disasters have affected 217 million people every single year. From 1980 to 2009 there was an 80 percent increase in the growth of climate-related disasters. Between 2001 and 2010, more than $1.2 trillion was lost to the increased rates of natural disasters. This was a dramatic rise, which between 1981 and 1990 had been roughly $528 billion.”

“You can’t just buy or build an emergency bug out bag, or prepare your home for a natural disaster like a flood or extreme weather, and then forget about the supplies in it,” said prepper and survival writer Phil Elmore. Elmore is a best-selling author, a long time survivalist, the publisher of the Martialist magazine, and a frequent contributor to Survivor’s Edge magazine. Elmore also authored The Bugout Bag Content List, a book not just about what to put in your bug-out bag, but why you need it to begin with. He stressed that emergency preparedness isn’t just about buying things and forgetting about them, “one and done,” kinds of action. It’s about an ongoing assessment of the items in your supplies.

“If you do have items in a bug-out bag, and something like a natural disaster hits, you’re not much better prepared than someone who has nothing at all if your supplies are expired, outdated, empty or damaged in some way,” he said.

“Expired materials are a much bigger problem than most preppers and survivalists want to admit,” said Elmore. “Spring and fall cleaning are excellent times to take stock and restock those things.”

“Expired food, for instance, is a big problem. I recently found a crate of MREs (meals ready to eat) in my things that had a five-year lifespan — ten years ago. Preppers and survivalists have a tendency to hoard,” Elmore said. “We put away things we think we’re going to need. We think in terms of ‘Hey, I might need that.’ We can take it to the extreme, however. So we need to evaluate things honestly in terms of needing things. If you’ve never used it and the only time you’re going to use it is in an extreme, unusual event, then you probably need to get rid of it. Sell it on eBay or whatever, but get rid of it. For instance, if I own spare rifle parts to some old, little-known rifle, but I don’t own the rifle, and I’m holding on to those spare parts in case I may run into someone one day after society is destroyed and think I’ll be able to barter or sell those parts then – it’s time to sell the parts now and use the money for something else – a new rifle perhaps.”

Having a good system where you can rotate items so they don’t expire is great, but it never hurts to go through all your extra food, water and supplies twice a year.

Spring Cleaning Tips

  • Check the expiration dates on all food items.

    Just because the manufacturer says the food is good for ten years, you’d be surprised at how fast the time passes.

  • Get rid of cheap tools and buy only quality tools, food, and supplies.

    Before a disaster may be the only chance you’ll have to buy them.

  • Throw away nearing expiration or expired medical items, first aid supplies, chemicals, filters, and batteries.

    If they don’t work, or are expired now, they won’t be of any use in a future disaster.

  • Keep several bags.

    Since you don’t know where you’ll be when disaster strikes have bags at several locations – work, home, in your car, wherever you spend a lot of time.

  • Buy water filtering systems rather than bottle water. Stockpile enough water for a week or even a month, but focus on purchasing a top of the line water-purifying system as well. All found water will need to be filtered and treated. It’s much easier to move or transport a water purifying system than hundreds of gallons of water.
  • Buy or build canned food systems that rotate canned items so they don’t expire.

  • Don’t hoard survival supplies.

    Items like food, medical supplies, over-the-counter remedies, etc. should be used and replaced on a regular basis. Rotate items so older items are used first.

  • Keep a list of what items you have.

    Most of us can’t remember 12 items, let alone dozens or hundreds of items we may have for use in an emergency. Create a list – either in a notebook or some other way that details what items you have on hand. Some of the things many people don’t think about stockpiling are toilet paper, paper towels, feminine products, diapers, alcohol, sponges etc. Your spring-cleaning efforts should include cycling these items into use and replacing them with new items.

If you check and stock your bug-out bags regularly, major restocking and cleaning should take less than an hour or two twice a year.

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About The Author
Becky Blanton
Becky Blanton is a full-time ghostwriter and writing coach for Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, and business speakers. In 2009 she spoke at TED Global at Oxford University, her first ever public speaking gig. When she's not writing, she's kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay. Her dream home is to live aboard a sailing or houseboat.

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