Emergency kit start of the year checklist

It’s the start of another year, and it’s time to make sure you check and update your emergency kit, so you’re prepared—just-in-case.

2021 is finally upon us, and for those keeping score, 2020 kicked our collective butts, catching a lot of people unprepared, and causing a lot of panic buying early in the pandemic. While we’re not wishing for a repeat of anything like that, it still pays to be prepared. Since we’re off to start a new year though, here are some things you might want to do to make sure you’re set in case anything untoward happens.

We’re pretty sure your EDC gear is always in tip-top shape, as it’s easy to notice the moment your knife isn’t hair-popping sharp or your light starts blinking low. We’re talking about the other stuff. Check the knives in your bug-out and go-bags to make sure they’re still up to scratch. Give them a good cleaning, check the integrity of the scales, check for rust, re-touch the edge on a strop, oil, and put them away again. This will save you the hassle of reaching for a knife at a critical time and finding that it’s dull, rusted, or the handles are crumbling.

The same goes for your emergency lights. I make a habit of swapping out the cells every quarter to make sure everything is ready at close to full performance when I need them to be and to give the cells a chance to rotate out for better longevity. Test the lights to see if they work across all modes, replace the cells, and then check the voltage of the cells you removed to see if they’re holding a charge. Recharge them if necessary, and you can put them back in rotation. It’s just good practice.

Food and medicine should be checked to see if they’re still well within their expiration dates. Anything that is set to expire this year should be replaced and put in with the rest of the cupboard or medicine cabinet so they can be used before they go bad. Yes, I know they’ll probably last long after their printed dates, but it’s still a better idea to have these last as long as possible, just in case. Update any prescriptions if you had new ones over the previous 12 months, and keep a photocopy of these in your emergency kits as well. More than once, I checked my kit to find things like the candies melted, and powdered coffee solidified. Not a thing you want to deal with in an emergency. Update your menus! There are now better options for food than just canned goods—freeze-dried entrees and civilian MREs are more available than ever these days.

Any IDs, photos, keys, and other non-perishables should likewise be checked and updated to make sure they will all work for the upcoming year. It might seem like a hassle, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing everything is up-to-date just can’t be overstated.

Items like super glue, tape, and chlorine tabs also have the nasty habit of becoming less usable over time, so give those a look, and make sure they’re ready for use. Check the bag itself. Time might have done a number on it, holes might have appeared, mice might have gotten into it, or seams and zippers might have popped. That keeps your whole emergency kit together, so make sure it’s secure.

We learn new things every day, and a year’s worth of learning isn’t something to ignore. This year, I swapped some things out in lieu of face masks, shields, gloves, and multi-purpose disinfectant, to reflect what we might have to deal with in the coming year. Just make sure you’re being reasonable, and don’t make the mistake of just adding more and more to your kit. Swap things out to keep the entire thing’s weight reasonable. Take the time to check online vendors for better gear, and see if newer options are worth the cost of upgrading. This isn’t always the case, but it’s always nice to be aware of your options.

Once everything is in place, keep it where you know you can reach your emergency kit quickly and easily, while being out of sight, so you don’t dip into your supplies without good reason. You can then rest assured that it’ll be ready if and when the situation arises.

Words by Ren Alcantara
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE January 2021 Issue

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