Tips for Maintaining Your Kit Over Time

You’ll be maintaining it forever. Or at least until society fully collapses.

This is a relationship that will last a lifetime. Many items in your Stay Bag will expire or need replacement, even if you never experience a disaster. Set a calendar reminder to check your kits once a year. When you do your check, pull out anything that will expire within one year.

Batteries are supposed to be good for five years, but in practice, it’s almost impossible to know when batteries have gone bad without testing them. The best option is to just bite the bullet and get a battery tester.

Rule of Thumb

If you’re a crunchy person, you may be inclined to put rechargeable batteries in your kit. Since they work better with regular use and do lose their charge capacity over time regardless of their use, they’re not a great fit for an emergency kit. Opt for standard batteries for your Stay Bag.

Check your first-aid kit to refresh any medications, ointments, or ice packs that may have expired. More obvious targets for replacement are out-of-date food and water. Yes, even bottled water. Plastic degradation over time can contaminate bottles of water; keep them for no more than two years. If you have the option, avoid 12oz PET bottles and choose one or five gallon jugs that use higher density plastic, which is less prone to degradation.

Confirm the expiration dates of your new items to make sure they’re more than a year in the future.

Make sure your Stay Bag has items added as your family changes as well. If you move, have a baby, bring a new furry friend home, or have longterm guests, update your emergency kit to cover those new needs. Aim to be as prepared as possible, space permitting. 

A hand holding up a sticky note that says "DON'T FORGET!"
Make a better reminder for yourself than this. This is bush league.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Writer, editor, and professional joker with an environmental science background. Like most trivia nerds, she's an ardent admirer of Only Connect competitors, but more at home on the QI field.