A 12-Month Preparedness Checklist – Part 1, by Reltney McFee

It has been said that amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics. I have attempted to put things aside for rainy days, and, with Mr. Biden at the helm, and Mr. Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, well, my achy knees tell me that rainy days are a’comin.

This last November, I had the epiphany that I needed to check the condition as well as charge of my batteries. This is a task for me semi-annually. I inspect for signs of leakage, I test the strength, using a voltage meter. Radio Shack used to sell them for $10-$20, once upon a time. I contemplate whether I have enough of each size. Unlike ammunition, “MOAR!” is not always the correct answer, for, ammunition keeps nearly forever if kept cool, dry and in the dark. Batteries have a self-discharge phenomenon, and both rechargeable as well as alkaline (and carbon-zinc), or “primary”, batteries, will lose their charge over time. (“Primary batteries” are single-use, and their charge derives from the chemicals with which they are made. “Secondary”, or rechargeable, batteries can be brought back up to charge, after discharge, although after a sufficient number of charge/discharge cycles, they gradually lose their ability to accept and hold a charge.) Therefore, in an ideal bunker, I would have just enough that I would have fully charged batteries in service, and enough fully charged replacements to cycle back and forth, so that no battery would die a lonely, unused, death, way back in the back of my battery shelf.

I am still striving for that level of efficiency.

When I checked this past month, to my disappointment, I found that most of my rechargeable batteries had discharged. Once I see if they will accept and hold a charge, I will know if they are in need of replacement, or simply monthly assessment.

I have some primary cells, for items that are frequently used. I have an LED penlight fueled by AAA batteries, and another identical penlight, except that this LED emits in near UV. That is handy for illuminating rashes, sometimes revealing luminescence typical of certain strains of dermatophytes. You might recognize the rashes caused, such as “ringworm”, or dandruff, or athlete’s foot, among others. Not all the dermatophytes glow under UV, but when it does, it is an “AHA!” moment. (Yeah, I am a midlevel provider.)

My Sure Fire and Thor Fire flashlights use CR-123 batteries, and ride in holsters on my belt. They are bright, “Light-up-the-yard” lights. There are two, because should one fail, it is likely that the other will function. I have spare batteries in my “Bag Of Tricks” (h/t to Felix The Cat as well as Commander Zero of “Notes From The Bunker”)

Our vehicles each have one or more “torches”, to differentiate the hand held lights, from the headlamp, the light-up-the-interior-of-the-vehicle lanterns, or the LED warning flashers. One torch is powered by CR-123 batteries, two are powered by C primary cells (the second torch, and one handheld flashlight)

The LED flashers are powered by AAA batteries, and are intended to allow oncoming traffic to see that there is something (Me!) in the roadway, in the event of a breakdown, collision, or other night time deviation from normal. It turns out, when you buy “budget” rechargeable batteries, they have fewer charge/discharge cycles in their make up, than quality cells. Guess which will replace the unsatisfactory batteries? Yep: buy once, cry once. Or cheap out, and cry. In the dark.

Subsequent to my battery experience, I developed a calendar of sorts. Each month has it’s own focus, such that I do not spend every single day off in any one month in my subterranean lair, checking off stores against a checklist. If all goes smoothly, I might get my inventory done in an afternoon. As a starting point for those who might be interested, I have included a representative sample of my present-draft month-to-month checklist.

The batteries that power my hand held radios are on an every month check, because if they are required to be placed in service, they are likely to be required NOW. Secondly, they are powered by battery packs, and the lead times, in good times, to obtain replacements are measured in days-to-weeks. These are NOT “good times”, and therefore vigilance regarding the radio batteries, and their state of charge, is prudent.

My lead off check list is my recurring checks. I list it first, because failing to perform these checks every six months/every month/ as planned, may lead to Bad Things. For instance, failure to check and replace my bug out bag, or first aid kit meds, might lead to administering out dated, for example, Tylenol. THAT might place somebody into liver or kidney failure, and THAT just might be bad, from a karma perspective, and a “First Do No Harm” perspective, as well as a liability/litigation perspective.


Clean Guns every 6 months
15 Jan/15 June

Ammo Can Desiccant every 3 months
15 Feb/15 May/15 Aug/15 Nov

Radio Batteries every month and as indicated

Stored Water change every 6 months
change 15 Mar/15 Sept

Flush Hot Water Heater every 6 months
15 Mar/15 August

BOB Food/Water change every other month/even months

BOB summer/winter gear: change every 6 months
change 15 Apr/15 Oct

Jump Kit/Car Kit/Boo Boo Kit change every 6 months
check, change 15 Sept/15 May

Generator: Function Check. Run under load. (every 6 months)
Apr 15/Oct 15


My January checklist is Lights/Heat/Fire, well, because it’s dark in this, The Un Named Fly Over State in the winter, as well as remarkably cold. (well, EVERYBODY remarks upon how cold it is, so, I suppose, THAT makes it “remarkable”, right?) Some of the things on this list, such as “check lanterns”, or “check heaters”, perhaps ought to be performed in more pleasant weather, prior to the likelihood of, ya know, REQUIRING these things to properly function. But, I drew this up in the winter, and am now in the first year of implementation. As may be imagined, there is editing in my future!


propane: Inspect, Function test
battery: Inspect, Function test (inspect batteries!)
AC light bulbs: Inventory, Inspect
Flashlights: Inventory, Inspect, Function Check
Batteries for Flashlights: Inventory, Inspect, Test charge (see Battery checklist for locations, baseline stock levels)

Matches: Inspect
Pocket: Inspect
Barbecue: Inspect
Candles: Inventory, Inspect (3 each day, 30 day supply)
Candle Lanterns (Mason Jar)(Pop can)
Charcoal: (3 bags)(store in tightly closed metal trash can)
Solar Charging (Trickle)(100 watt)
Generator: Function Check. Run under load. (q every 6 mos)
Generator Fuel (amount stored)(fuel stabilizer)(condition)
Butane/Propane stoves: Function check. Fuel stored: amount, condition.
Propane heater: Function check (has batteries: Check same)
Kerosene heater: Function check. Fuel (amount)(condition)(fuel stabilizer) (has batteries. Check same)
Fire extinguishers. Inventory. Check condition.
FIRE PLAN: Review, rethink as indicated. Walk through.
Clean Guns
Check Radios and Batteries


February was christened “Paper/Cleaning/Household” Month, because, basically, it’s the Third Anniversary Of The Covid TP Freak-out. Should you have a reason to check your own paper (etc) stores in a different month, be my guest. OTOH, making such a check in February, and identifying a deficit, gives you a couple of months to make it right, before Spring Cleaning pops up.


TP: 52 rolls/person/year
(TP x 4 persons x 1 year = 200 rolls)
(TP x 8 persons x 1 yr = 400 rolls)

Scrubbies x 12
Dish soap x 12, 75 fluid oz ea
Plastic flatware
Paper plates/cups/bowls
Bleach (unscented) gallon x 4 (8?)
Trash Bags, 13 gal, 200 bags/box, x 4 boxes
Trash Bags, 30 gal, 200/box, x 4 boxes
Trash Bags, 55 gal (contractor), 30/box, x 2 boxes
Zip Lock bags (freezer), quart, #100
Zip Lock bags (freezer), gallon, #100
Paper Towels, roll #24
Aluminum Foil, roll, #10
Dish Pans, #3-6
Plastic Wrap, roll, #10

Bar soap, # 52 bars
Shampoo # 12 bottles
Shampoo (Nizoral), #4 bottles
Deodorant (Me) (TDW) #13 each
Lotion, bottle, 20 oz, #12
Liquid hand soap, bottle, 40 oz, # 13
Baby Wipes, package, 100, #36 (VACUUM SEAL)

Sheets x 4 sets/bed
Bath Towels x 2/person
Wash Cloths x 2/person
Pillow Cases x 4/bed
Laundry Bags x 1/person
Blankets x 2/person

Mop/Bucket x 2 (x 4?)
Lysol/Pine Sol x 6 bottles
Whip It x 6 bottles
Scouring Powder x 6
Toilet Cleaner x 6



March is Personal Care Supplies, because I lack imagination, and it had to be somewhere, right?

Notice that I have question marks beside feminine products, as well as contraception. TDW-Mark II and I are out of the baby business, but if you, or some woman in your life is NOT definitively out of the baby business, plan for “romance”. I guarantee that somewhere around number 60 on your “Top Ten Things I Want To Do In TEOTWAWKI” list, is deliver a child for a woman that you love. Under austere conditions. Likely, in the dark.

Similarly, if there are (or will be) women of near childbearing age in your household during Hard Times, they will think very highly of your having planned for their periods.

Razors # 52
Toothbrushes # 52
Dental Floss # 24
Toothpaste #26 tubes
(Feminine products?)

Sewing Needles #25
Buttons #100 (assorted sizes)
Thread (12 spools)(various colors, weights)
Shoelaces (#24)(different lengths: shoe length, boot length)
Patching Material
Belts (#4)
Needles #100
Sewing Thread (12 spools)



April is gardening and outdoor items. Yes, I DO realize that active gardeners likely begin their planning in, oh, February. (That might be one reason that this is “A Model”, and not “THE MODEL”, eh?)

As you may guess from my map list, I work something like two counties over from my residence. So, when fully polished, my return home plan has multiple alternate routes, that do not rely upon the expressway system being open, with at least one alternate following tertiary roads. If I am forced to hike home, way-points that allow me to top off my water will be welcome. Identifying alternatives during leisurely meanders home seems like a prudent way to spend some time.

(my county)(the county to the north)(south)(east)(west)
(county maps en route to work)
(topo maps for the above)
(state highway maps: my state, state north/south/east/west)(frequent destination states)
Gazetteer (see above list of states)
Water Sources (about home)(en route to work)

Canning Jars #48
Canning Lids #300 +
Pressure Canner
Pressure Canner Gasket x 4
(Solar) Dehydrator

Check Radios/Batteries
CHANGE BOB Food and Water


May is communications and finances. For one thing, it appears reasonable to assess how the budget decisions made in December, are coming along, before the wheels come off I get too far along with the year. Doing these ruminations in May provides some time to correct assumptions that did not develop, as well as to adapt and rethink in the face of new realities, should such crop up.

In addition, inspecting my communication gear, and associated licenses, helps me get into gear for Amateur Radio Field Day, held annually on the last full weekend in June.

Status of Rainy Day Fund (compare to goals)
Status of particular savings accounts (eg, new vehicle, new camper, Moar! Guns!, etcetera)
Progress on paying off target accounts (credit card, student loan, mortgage, etcetera)
Check house deed
Vehicle titles, license plates
Out dates of licenses? (driver/concealed carry/amateur radio/GMRS/professional licenses and certifications)
Lay hands on marriage license, passports, other important papers. Are they where you thought that they were? Are they as secure as you intended for them to be?

Check medic bags.
Change out meds in subordinate first aid kits: vehicle/camper/house
Service ammo can desiccators
Check Radios and Batteries (I have it twice, because it is THAT important!)
Clean Guns

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)