By Timothy Gamble
December is a
great time for preppers and survivalists to do all those things we only
occasionally need to do, and therefore are easy to forget to do. So, end the year
right by accomplishing the following to do list, and get 2020 off to a
(I'ne made several new additions to this year's "To Do" list. If you have additional ideas, leave them in the comments section below.)
▢ Check and change your water storage if you haven't done so recently. Also,
check to make sure your water storage containers don't have any slow
leaks. I had trouble with this in the past, as ALL of my Ozark Trail
6-gallon water jugs developed slow leaks (see my article Survival Gear Fails + Alternatives). Do you need more water storage? I use the 7-gallon Aqua-Tainers by Reliance (available on Amazon) for most of my water storage and have never had a problem with them.
▢ Check your food storage. Make
sure your rotation plan is working and you don't have any problems with food going bad.
Make sure all canned foods are not swelling or leaking. Check dry foods
for signs of mold or infestation. Restock any food storage that you're
running low on...
▢ Check all medications and first aid supplies,
both for expiration dates and to replace any supplies that you have
used up during the year. Many medicines are safe to use past their expiration date, but some grow less effective and a few can become toxic. Use your best judgment. Also, consider if your first aid or medical
needs have changed (new additions to the family, new illnesses or health
concerns, etc.) and adjust accordingly. (Click here for first aid supplies on Amazon.)
Two things some folks might not realize:
Aspirin does expire and becomes dangerous. If your aspirin has a very
strong vinegar-like odor, it has gone bad and is toxic. Also, rubbing
(Isopropyl) alcohol will oxidize over time into acetone and become
ineffective against germs. A bottle of rubbing alcohol will typically have about a
two-year self life depending on storage conditions.
▢ Check all batteries to make sure they are okay. This
means all stored batteries to make sure none are starting to corrode or
leak. It also means all batteries currently "in use" to make sure they
are still working. It is especially important to check the batteries in
gear that you don't frequently use, such as in flashlights or radios sitting in your
bug-out bag, a toolbox, or the glove compartment of your
car. I personally have lost more than one seldom used flashlight over the years due to the battery going dead and corroding for weeks or months before I realized it.
Need batteries? I use and recommend AmazonBasics Performance Alkaline Batteries. Not only are these batteries at a great price, but they are especially designed for long-term storage (10-years). Battery testers are relatively cheap - the one I use is available on Amazon for less than $7 currently.
▢ Change the batteries in your smoke/fire alarms if you haven't changed them recently. Better to "waste" a good battery by changing it too soon, then for it to be dead when you really need it.
▢ Inspect your bug-out vehicle. Is it time for an oil change? How do the tires look? Are all the headlights, taillights, and turn signals working? Be sure to inspect the brakes. For more on auto maintenance, see my article: Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule.
▢ Rotate any gasoline storage you may have. If you have gasoline storage (please do so safely), remember to keep it rotated. Gasoline slowly starts to go flat (lose energy) after about six months or so.
▢ Do a home safety inspection. If you know a boy or girl scout, get them do a home safety
inspection for you (they have to learn how for various merit badges).
Some fire departments will do this type of home inspection, too. Check for fire hazards, tripping hazards, poisonous or toxic materials
that aren't stored properly, overloaded outlets, frayed electrical
cords, expired fire extinguishers, non-functioning smoke detectors, and
▢ Re-think your emergency and preparedness plans. Has
anything about your situation changed in the last year that will
require altering your plans, such as new family members (births,
marriages), deaths, illnesses or disabilities, job changes, school
changes, moves, or changes in your current community or bug-out
location. Also, update your contact lists - people move, phone numbers
change, and email addresses change even more often.
There are a lot of folks with special needs - the mentally or
physically handicapped, the elderly, the disabled, people with chronic
illnesses, pregnant women, babies, and very young children, just to name
a few. In fact, most families and groups are likely to have one or more
people with special needs of some sort. Make sure you are addressing
▢ Review your bug-out plans and location. Is your bug-out location still available? Is it still a safe location? Does it require any work, repairs, or maintenance? Do you need to make any improvements? Do you need to restock it with food, water, or other supplies? Has your bug-out route changed due to road work, construction, or other circumstances? Do you have an alternative bug-out location?
▢ Review your emergency and preparedness plans with everyone in your family or group. Make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what to do, and when.
▢ Re-think your EDC. How
has the gear you carry everyday worked out for you? Are you carrying
unneeded gear? What gear are you actually using? Have you needed
something you didn't have? Now is a great time to make any needed
changes to your EDC.
▢ Review your finances. The end of the year is a great time to review your finances, especially in light of any changes in your circumstances (raises, promotions, job loss or change, births, deaths, marriages, illnesses, unexpected expenses, life-stage changes, etc.) over the past year. Have your needs for insurance (auto, property, life, medical, etc.) changed? How goes the retirement savings? It is also a good time to reconsider your monthly budget and make any needed adjustments.
▢ Do a personal self-assessment. How have you changed during the past year? How have your concerns changed? How have your needs changed? Are you addressing any new concerns or needs in your planning? Is your health and fitness better, worse, or the same as a year ago? Have you gained weight, or lost fitness? What skills do you need to learn? Did you meet your goals this year? Do you need to set new goals for next year?
▢ Is it time for any medical exams, for you are your family members? I've learned the hard way the importance of regular medical check-ups. The key to healing any disease or chronic health condition is early detection. I highly urge everyone to get regular physical, dental, and eye check-ups. If you haven't had one yet this year, please may an appointment soon.
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