In between cleaning your closets and washing your windows this spring, take some time for emergency preparedness spring cleaning.
When was the last time you checked your family’s first aid kit? Do you know when it is time to replace your fire extinguisher?
These types of emergency preparedness tasks often get overlooked because many of us buy emergency supplies, store them, and forget them.
Since you will already be doing your annual spring cleaning, make this the time to ensure your family and home are prepared for future emergencies.
1. Update Your Emergency Plan
Every family should have an emergency plan that includes important contact information.
The problem is that contact information often changes, which means you must update phone numbers and addresses.
During spring cleaning, go through your emergency plan and make any necessary revisions.
2. Review and Update First Aid Kits
Many of us purchase a stocked first aid kit, put it in a pantry, and pull it out as needed.
Our first aid kit gets used most often for band-aids because we have children. When I don’t make a point to check to see how many band-aids are in the kit, I find myself lacking band-aids when they are needed.
I have a feeling this happens in many homes.
It’s not just band-aids. We often take and use items as needed, such as antiseptic wipes, but we don’t replace them.
This spring, take everything out of your first aid kit and see which essentials you are lacking. Then, replace them.
3. Check Food Storage
Most of our readers take emergency food preparedness seriously. That’s fantastic!
However, just because you have emergency food in your pantry if a disaster strikes, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
If you have canned foods, now is the time to check their best-by dates and their condition. Canned foods can go bad.
Long-term emergency foods have longer than normal expiration dates, but they still have expiration dates. While some long-term emergency foods in #10 cans last up to 25 years, others like butter or whole egg powder have a shorter lifespan of 10 years (still significantly more than normal, though).
If you have been stocking long-term emergency food for a long time, make sure you check those dates.
4. Refresh Emergency Go Bags
If you have practiced emergency preparedness for any amount of time, you know the importance of having a go bag ready at all times.
These go bags tend to have emergency essentials for survival, including food, first aid, and gear.
Like your first aid kit, you need to carefully inventory everything in your go bag and replace what needs replacing (such as old food).
5. Update Local Weather and Emergency Apps
With spring storms on the way, now is a good time to refresh your local weather and emergency apps. Take a few minutes to see if there are software updates needed or new, better apps available.
6. Replace Batteries in Alarms
According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.”
Your home smoke alarm should be tested regularly, and you should replace the batteries at least once a year (during spring cleaning).
At the same time, check your carbon monoxide detector and replace the batteries.
7. Check Your Fire Extinguisher
Every home needs a fire extinguisher, and we are just going to assume you have one.
However, do you know how old it is?
Fire extinguishers have a life expectancy of 10 - 12 years, but some even need to be “recharged” after 6 years.
If you aren’t sure how old your fire extinguisher is, take a look at the pressure gauge (green = good, red = bad).
8. Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet
As part of your spring cleaning routine, go through your medicine cabinet and safely get rid of any expired medications.
You don't want to toss these medications into the trash where they may find their way into the wrong person's hands.
Instead, look for drug take-back locations. For example, many Walgreens offer medication disposal kiosks.
Tip – You can use Google Maps to search for drug disposal locations near you.
9. Remove and Secure Loose Items in the Yard
Spring storms cause a lot of destruction – even more so if there are items in your yard that can cause destruction.
As part of your spring cleaning, make sure you clean up your yard.
Remove any loose debris (such as fallen branches) and secure items that can move during strong winds (such as trampolines).
10. Go Through Gardening Tools
As you get ready to do your spring planting, go through your gardening tools. Get rid of duplicate tools or broken tools. Make a list of tools you need to replace and set a budget to make necessary purchases.
11. Clean Out Gutters
Unclean gutters can cause a lot of damage, such as flooding and water damage. Take the time now – before a natural disaster or severe storm – to do this dreaded task. It will save you a lot of money and headache later on.
While you’re at it, if any trees are near a power source, make sure they are trimmed and kept away from the lines. If there are dead branches, remove them before storms allow them to become dangerous projectiles.
12. Double-Check Power Supplies
Spring storms often result in power outages. Knowing this is the case, be prepared by checking all your power supplies.
Do you have extra batteries on hand? Do you have working flashlights and candles?
13. Test Emergency Gear
As you pull out your first aid kit and go bag, take a few minutes to test your emergency gear.
Does your hand crank radio still work?
Which items require batteries? Do the batteries work?