Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When To Check Your BOB and FAK

Organization in preparation

I’ve heard a story of a person who was really into preparedness. They weren’t obsessed (like me), but were prepared in most things.
They were at a park with their kids and one of the kids cut themselves. It wasn’t a real serious cut but first aid needed to be applied. This person went to their first aid kit, that they carried in their vehicle every day, and got their kit. They were able to help the child but had to improvise some things. They found that the antiseptic wipes that were still in their original sealed bag were all dried out. The hand sanitizer had exploded, though they kept it in its own zip-lock bag so it didn’t make a mess on anything else. Someone had taken all but a few of the over-the-counter pain meds. Also, for some reason the med tape was missing. This person learned a lesson to avoid a “real” emergency. So how often should you review your everyday carry (EDC) first aid kit? What about your bugout bag (BOB)? Here are some hints to get your own maintenance program going for your emergency stuff. First let’s tart with a BOB.
I recommend at least annually checking your BOB. Others will find a need to check it more frequently. In my experience, annual works for me.
We recommend checking the following:
Expirations on food items
Some survival rations have useful lives up to 5 years or more but many are perishable well before then. Make sure you are checking the shelf life of any food items that you are planning on relying on and replace them before they go bad. Rotation is better. Actually eat the food and replace. You may learn that you don’t care for certain foods after all.
Expirations on medications
Medications have a wide range of lifetimes. If you have any medication in your BOB antibiotics, insulin, EpiPens, heart medication, or any others make sure you know how long each will be good for and replace as needed.
Expiration for first aid items
Many single use first aid items such as creams, antiseptic wipes, bandages, and eyewash/irrigation solutions have a limited shelf life. This is generally around the sterility of the item and out of date first aid items should not be used to treat wounds. Of course in an emergency and faced with nothing or something expired, use the expired. Conduct regular first aid kit inspections and replace out of date items as needed. I date things clearly so I don’t have to search for the date.
Battery charge for electronics
One of the biggest advantages of having solar or hand cranked electronic items like radios and flashlights is that you don’t have to worry about the batteries dying at a critical moment. However, if you do have any items in your BOB that do require batteries, these should be checked often to ensure that they have enough charge to power your equipment. An excellent preventative measure against battery drain is to store them in the electronic item (such as a flashlight) with the two positive (+) ends of two batteries facing each other. This prevents any current passing through the dormant circuit and greatly reduces energy seeping from the stored batteries.
If you have a firearm and ammunition in your BOB you should plan on test firing a sampling of once per year. If you have any misfires, plan on replacing rounds from that batch with newer ones. I just switch out the ammo every year. I’ve never had any bad ammo. But I know it’s possible.

Keep in mind that your BOB and plan should be constantly evolving as new factors and information emerge. There are a great many things that can impact your survival situation and keeping your BOB up to date will maximize your chances of survival when disaster strikes. A great practice is to set a reminder in a calendar either on your phone, computer, or in a planning diary to review your BOB contents list annually at minimum. These reminders will keep you on track and spur you into action!
Lastly, there is no time like the present to take action. Why not review your Bug Out Bag today?
Also I’d like to talk a little about how and when to inspect your First Aid Kit (FAK).
For this article, I used a standard industrial FAK.
1. Check for Unsafe/Damaged Products
Check for damaged, soiled, dirty or even partially used products. As a practice, all items should be single use to prevent cross contamination. That means that a tube of ointment that has a re-sealable cap should be considered opened if not contaminated. If this is for home use you can be a little more lenient. Open bottles of eyewash should be thrown out.

2. Check for expiration dates
Many of the items in a first aid kit have a shelf life. The expiration date will be marked on the container or individual package. Items including sprays, ointments, wipes, medicines, eyewash and eyedrops will all have dates. If an outer box does have dates, be sure to check the product inside. Many times like products you are replacing will have different dates. When you mix them it is important to use the old dates first. Product placement and rotation are important. Always put the newer product behind the older. Be especially careful when inspecting the door pouches.

3. Review & Observe the usage and available inventory.
As you check your supplies, pay attention to how much has been used. This will help you plan for the future, avoiding the possibility of running out of a particular item. Good observation can also help you pinpoint the types of injuries that are occurring, possibly helping you to change work or safety processes and creating a healthier and safer workplace.

4. Arrange & organize the product to its appropriate location in the cabinet.
Why are we talking about this now before restock? Every item has its place. Consistency is key to managing and maintaining your supplies. When someone uses the supplies, they will always look in the same spot for that item. It will also help you speed up the inventory process. Know where your supplies are supposed to be and move the items back to their dedicated spot.

For a BOB or vehicle kit you can do the same as above. Make sure anything that has liquid in it is checked. Especially if the kit stays in a hot closet or vehicle trunk. Wipes, petroleum gauze pads, sanitizers, betadine, all these and others should be checked to make sure they are not dried up. Packaging seldom keeps things from drying up for prolonged exposure to heat.
Meds should be replaced often too. Anything is better than nothing but be sure you have a list of priority items to slowly replace and that it actually happens.
Make sure you keep close inventory of items you need to check and figure out a schedule to check. I would suggest at least annually.
Making sure your gear is ready to use at any time is a matter of being organized.
Semper Paratus
Check 6