I wonder if anyone else is as sick of hearing about Zombies and the end of the Mayan Calendar on 21 December 2012 as I am. The term "overkill" may not be appropriate, but even many mainstream and respected companies have given in to the idea of using the term "Zombies" to push and sell various items, and it looks like the zombies are not killing us but only causing harm to our credit cards and bank accounts.

As far as the end of the Mayan Calendar is concerned.. well, I survived Y2K so I am betting I will wake up on the morning of 22 December and wonder what kind of deals I can get on buying up the preparations of people who are now disappointed that the poles didn't shift and society is still, marginally speaking, intact. (Although I was looking forward to seeing long lines of confused penguins migrating north.)

The term "Zombies" has a much more serious side to it. It is actually considered by many - myself included - to be the latest euphemism for any scenario where society has collapsed and we find ourselves in a fight for our very existence.

But that is not what we focus on here. I do make many mentions of Prepping, because Survival is Prepping, and Prepping is Survival. The root word of prepping is "Preparing or Preparations" and if you are reading this, then you are wanting to or actually preparing to survive should something go wrong. That "something" could be a wilderness trek, a cross-country hike, a campout, a missionary trip over the jungles of South America... I can go on and on.

So, with that said - have you inventoried your Survival Equipment lately?

One of the reasons you need to do a regular check of your Survival equipment / supplies is because some of your items may have an expiration date. This is mostly true for food and water products. Water will keep almost indefinitely, but after a few years may take on the taste of the container and environment it is stored in. Many water products that are made for the Survival industry come in containers (usually Mylar-lined) that are rated for a Five year storage life. Can this be extended? I am sure that it can be, but only under specific circumstances.

Now, this is just my personal opinion, but I would have no qualms about taking a sealed Survival water container that was stored in another sealed container and that was stored in a cool and dark location. If I was in a Survival situation and ran across some commercially prepared water that was sealed and stored in some heavy plastic bags and that was placed in a tight plastic bucket and stored fifteen years previously - I would more than likely use the water and be thankful for it.

As far as food is concerned, there are too many varied opinions on how far a food item can be out of date before it cannot be used. I suggest that anyone who is interested in this topic should do a thorough Internet search to see what the "experts" have to say. I have my own learned opinion, but I learned what I believe and know from my own research into this topic.

BUT - what I do suggest comes from a whole lifetime of being a pack-rat and what I suggest is this:

As far as Survival-type packaged food and water items is concerned, follow the manufacturer's "Good Until" date, but if you have the room to spare, keep the out-dated items only if you have done the research and are sure the items will still be good past their expiration date.

Be aware that commercially canned and packaged foods of the type found in any supermarket have specific dates of expiration that should not be ignored. Any item with a dairy product, or meat product as an ingredient is subject to spoilage and breakdown of its ingredients over time and the expiration date should be followed closely.

There are many canned foods found in your local supermarket that have long shelf life, and you should research both the Internet (from reliable sources only) and do what I do - Whenever I go to the local Wally World or a closer hometown supermarket, I spend a few minutes checking the expiration dates on mostly canned food. I have found several types that have relatively very long shelf lives, and some of these are high in protein and calories that would come in handy in an emergency. So far, the longest shelf life I have found on a commercially-canned item is a shelf life of eight (8) years on a can of Octopus. I will only assume that it is pre-cooked or smoked or something.

Some canned meats and fish products have a longer shelf life than other foods due to a certain type of glass that is applied to the interior of the can prior to packaging the product. Research the Internet to see if you would want to include those items in your Survival Kits and Prepping supplies.

A Very Important  WARNING on this subject: If you do have canned (metal) food items in your Survival kit or supplies, keep a close eye on the cans themselves. A bulging can is a sign that something is not right with that particular can. DO NOT OPEN IT. Discard it - preferably in a way that some other person might find it and open it, and then die from botulism or and spread it or some other type of poisoning by contact with the contents to other people.

Two more items that have expiration dates, or need to be inspected / replaced on a regular basis are batteries and medication - either over the counter or prescription. Batteries need frequent attention because you never know when you will need that item and it probably does not serve an alternate purpose if the batteries do not work. At least one major battery manufacturer now states that their batteries have an expected shelf life of 10 years. That would be great if it is correct. I would still rotate your batteries on n at-least semi-annual basis. It is often reccommended that people should change the batteries in their home's Smoke Detectors when the time change occurs in the Fall and Spring. Why not use that as the time to rotate or change the batteries in your Survival Flashlights?

Medications, both OTC and prescription, have an expiration date that should not be ignored. Many of the compounds found in medication will break-down over time, and the last thing you need is experience the emergency you were preparing for but now your medicines are expired and taking them for an unexpected malady may do more harm than good. Check with a Pharmacist to see how long after an expiration date a medicine can be depended on to help the condition it was intended to treat.

"Fortuna favet præparaverat  -  Fortune Favors the Prepared!"