After prepping for the last couple of years, I am starting to discover some items in the emergency kit or bug-out bag do not last as long as I thought. Not only do you need to track your food storage, you also need to pay attention to your non-perishables. I am not saying you should avoid stocking these items, but I do recommend you rotate these supplies often.
I made the mistake of leaving batteries inside flashlights and lanterns and they leaked after a few months, ruining the gadget. Batteries do expire and lose potency, or they leak battery acid when they get old. A battery tester will help you manage your battery supplies. I still stock up, but I rotate frequently and I now keep rechargeable batteries which are cost effective.
Many sites don’t even recommend candles for emergencies due to risk of fire hazard, but many people stock up on candles for power outages. Because we live in a hot climate for several months out of the year, we’ve had candles stored in the garage that have melted and warped. If you keep candles, make sure to keep in a cool, dry place. As a backup, learn to make inexpensive lamps from household items
2.5 gallon plastic water bottles
I used to store several 2.5 gallon water bottles but I have found the plastic containers degrade and can easily spring a leak. I’ve had a few mishaps with them. I still keep some but I rotate them frequently. To avoid storage failures, I’ve added these heavy duty water containers to my water storage.
Most bug out bags contain at least one lip balm and they are highly recommended when you are out in the sun. However, like candles, they tend to melt into a gooey mess if left in the heat. Store them in a cool dry place, and inspect them every year. When they get old they also get more waxy tasting.
I have several boxes of adhesive bandages stocked up in several places: car first aid kit, home emergency kit, office kit etc. I recently used a few of the older ones and found they lose their adhesive properties over time. They can be used but because they don’t stick as well, they need replacing more often. You still need to stock up on them, just remember to use and rotate frequently.
I had a few boxes of individually wrapped antibacterial wipes from a year ago. I opened a few packets to check and found that many wipes have already dried up. The liquid antibacterial gel so far does not have any sign of deterioration. I think the gel gets a bit thicker over time, but remains usable.
Sunscreens, Lotions and Mosquito Repellant
These liquids frequently have expiration dates but we all know most items are still usable post expiration. However, they do have a shelf life. Pay attention to the texture, smell and consistency of the liquid. If you notice that the ingredients have separated, the item smells “off” or has changed color, it is time to get rid of it. There is no point in hanging on to a product that has lost its potency.
Many apartment preppers are unable to store gasoline. Due to the fire hazard, storing gasoline is usually prohibited in the lease. However, if you are able to store gasoline, you will need to use CARB (if you live in California, it’s the California Air Resources Board or EPA compliant gasoline containers. Even then, gasoline will stay fresh only for about 30-90 days at a maximum, depending on storage conditions. You will need to use a gasoline stabilizer such as Sta-Bil, and continue to rotate your supplies regularly.
After storing supplies for a couple of years, I’ve learned that reality sometimes falls short of expectations. I hate throwing unused stuff away but once it’s no longer effective, out it goes. At that point, these old items are just clutter and you are just fooling yourself thinking you have supplies. The worst thing would be to have prepping supplies fail you when you need them most, or when you can no longer buy new ones after an emergency. Keeping close track of your stored items will help you avoid waste and nasty surprises later on.