As the seasons change and we seem to be working our way into the winter season, we are all breathing a word of thanks for the much-needed precipitation. This year’s fire season in Oregon has been one for the record books. And while the winter months usually bring stormy conditions, this would be a great time to tune-up your supplies.
For many it may be time to take a look at your emergency kit. If you stocked up on jerky a few months ago, or if cheese crackers are a part of your get home bag (like mine) then you may want to rotate your supplies. Check for freshness or vermin or just make sure that the dates are current on your canned goods. If not then it’s time to move those items to the front of the shelf and re-stock with fresh. I use a vacuum food sealer to store some items (not just food) to keep them dry and dust-free. I have found that sometimes the seals come undone, so be sure to double-check those items and re-seal the ones that need it.
Check your emergency water supply. Those 2 ½ gallon jugs with the built-in spigot are really handy for short-term use, camping and sliding in the refrigerator, but they tend to leak if you leave them in the closet for lengthy periods of time. Personal sized water bottles are handy to have, but they too, need to be swapped out for fresh ones after a few months. Consider a stand-alone water filter like the Big Berkey. (www.jamesfilter.com)
One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is regarding rechargeable devices. Those lanterns, Storm Stations and all sorts of rechargeable devices are designed to be plugged in all the time (according to the manufacturer) until you need them. It has been my experience that if they’ve been sitting unused, but plugged in as instructed for a couple of years, the batteries tend to go bad. Those things are expensive and in some cases, difficult to replace. It is maddening to think you’ve got things covered only to learn you can’t rely on the very thing you were relying on.
So if you have a rechargeable device sitting on the shelf, use it once in awhile. According to my electrical engineer friend, that battery needs some exercise. Unplugging it for about three weeks out of four will also extend the life of most rechargeable batteries.
I rarely recommend gadgets and gizmos to purchase, but after you’ve saved up for your water filter, I suggest buying a NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio. NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information 24-7. NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards – including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 telephone outages). Make sure it’s one that is battery powered. There are also several that are solar, hand-cranked, and battery powered. One for every budget. Shop around and find one that appeals to you.
As always send your emails with comments or questions to email@example.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is a retired postmaster, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.