Thursday, December 9, 2021

2021 End-of-Year Assessment and "To Do" List for Preppers and Survivalists

By Timothy Gamble

December is a great time for us preppers and survivalists to assess our situation, make any necessary changes to our plans, and to do all those things we only occasionally need to do (and therefore are easy to forget to do). 

End-of-Year Assessment 

How prepared are you and your family for a  really bad 2022? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you assess your and your family's current state of preparedness:
  • Do you have a Disaster Preparedness Plan?
  • Is it written? Or do you keep it "in your head?" 
  • Are you and your spouse in agreement on your preparedness plans?
  • Have your circumstances changed (births, deaths, marriages, long-term illnesses, moves, job changes, etc.), and have you modified your plans to fit your new circumstances?
  • Do you have a Family Communications Plan?
  • Do you have a fully stocked first aid kit at home? In your vehicle? 
  • Have you taken a first aid course recently?
  • Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home?
  • Have you planned for your pets and any livestock in an emergency? 
These are just a few considerations for your family preparedness assessment. For a more detailed look at this topic, see my article Personal/Family Preparedness Assessment.

End-of-Year To-Do List

▢ 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. Do you need more water storage? I now 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, and replace any supplies that you have used up during the year. Many medicines are safe to use past their expiration date, but some do grow less effective over time, and a few can become toxic (such as aspirin - see below). Do your research and 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 eventually 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. Check all stored batteries to make sure none are starting to corrode or leak. Also check 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. Learn from my mistakes!

Note: 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 (many folks change them with the twice yearly time changes). 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. 
In fact, now is a good time to do this for ALL your vehicles and tractors! Is it time for an oil change? How do the tires look? Are all the headlights, taillights, and turn signals working? Is your battery getting old? 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. STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer may help gasoline last up to two years, but really rotating your stored fuel is probably the easiest and best way. 

▢ Do a home safety inspection. If you know a boy or girl scout, you could 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 so forth... 

▢ 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. 

▢ Update your contact lists. People move, phone numbers change, and email addresses change even more often. Now is the time to update you communications plan. You do have a family communications plan, don't you? If not, work on one now (see my article). 
▢ Make sure you are addressing the needs of any family or group members with special needs. 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 those needs! See my article Prepping For Folks With Special Needs.

▢ 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? See my article But, bug-out to where, exactly???

▢ 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. See my recent article My EDC Pocket Dump - Only Useful Items, No Gadgets!

▢ 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, 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 make an appointment soon.

The Ultimate Prepper's Survival Guide, by 
James Wesley Rawles. One of the world’s leading survivalist experts—explains how to survive in the short term as society begins to collapse, and how to thrive in the long term. Practical, easy-to-follow instructions are included to instruct you on the preparations you can make today, as well as advice on the mental and emotional resilience required to help you not just cope but prosper in the new world.


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