“This smells funny. Here, taste it!” Time to Rotate Your Emergency Supply Food

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After a brief but jarringly disruptive major snow event in the Northeast U.S. over Halloween weekend, the country finds itself in a relative lull, at least weather-wise.  However, the line of thunderstorms that rolled through the South last night, killing six in Georgia and the Carolinas, reminds us that there’s never, ever a time that we shouldn’t be prepared – and just as prepared as we reasonably can be.


On the cusp between a very active but thankfully not particularly destructive tropical season and what we expect to be a fairly busy winter, now is the time to check those expiration dates on the food in your emergency supply kit.  (There’s a whole slew of articles about exactly what should be in that kit here.)  It’s an annual ritual both here at the office and at home, usually occurring at some point after hurricane season starts to wind down and actually best done twice a year concurrent with the time changes, right alongside replacing your smoke alarm batteries.  And we’re always a little surprised at what we find.  Like two trays full of single-serve potato chips that expired on August 23rd.  Ewwww.

Sure, that’s just the manufacturer’s recommended “best-by” date and that it’s also partially a marketing ploy to generate new sales.  But the way I always think about it is this:  weather-related or not, it’s the day (or two of nine) after a major disruption and, after finishing off the last of what was still safe to eat from the still-powerless fridge or now-iceless Igloo cooler, we are now heading into the canned, jarred and freeze-dried stuff.  At that very point, do you really want to eat something that, frankly, you already aren’t real excited about but which you are also just now discovering is . . . bleh . . . expired?

No.  You don’t.  Freshen it up.  What you do with the older stuff is up to you, although many shelters and charity food banks will indeed readily accept “mildly out of date” packaged food items so definitely consider that option.

Nice start. Could stand some super-sizing. Photo: chathamemergency.org

A few more things:

  • Take this opportunity to check/replace your batteries in your lights radios and other battery-dependent items.
  • Battery sub-tip:  never store your batteries in those same items until you need to power them up.  There’s no iPhone app to warn you that an old battery is about to start leaking and ruin the contact terminals in your main flashlight – and the flashlight itself.  Full disclosure:  I keep one small, relatively cheap flashlight with batteries in it at all times in case I need it quickly, if only to find larger lights and their batteries.  One in the trunk of my car, too.
  • If you haven’t done so since last year, get your hands and eyes on all the other materials in your supply kit.  Check the candles, blankets, first aid kit, etc. to make sure nothing has melted, been munched on by critters, mildewed, etc.  Replace, launder or act otherwise as needed.
  • An emergency supply kit is not the same as your Go Bag, which you should also now check to see what needs to be rotated or replaced.
  • You don’t have a Go Bag?  Really? From Kyle’s article here, he today adds, “I heard many of the people from the Bastrop wildfire area that only had 5 or 10 minutes to evacuate.  The majority of their stories all began with, ‘I just didn’t know what to take, I had so little time……’”
  • Take the opportunity to reevaluate preferences, not just for what kinds of food you stocked before but also relevant to any recent changes in your family or your own personal situation.  Maybe you’ve added a new family pet to the herd or an elderly relative has moved in; maybe your teenage daughter decided she’s a vegan last summer.  Adapt accordingly.

Remember, preparedness is an all-year job.  It’s been a blessedly quiet year for homeland terrorism but here and around the world there have been terrible tsunamis, manmade calamities, wholly unexpected quakes, historic and ravaging forest fires and tragically unforgettable tornadoes.  And the list of truly unprepared-for if not wholly unexpected calamities goes on.

Your emergency supply kit deserves some love so that one day it will be ready to love you right back.

For more information about perfecting your personal, employee and organizational preparedness, visit ImpactReady.

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