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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vehicle Inventory Management

In response to last week's post, a question was asked regarding how to manage supplies kept in a vehicle:
Could someone possibly give their opinion on a good method to rotate their automobile supplies, that they carry as a bug out kit, sort of the 72 hour type, or what you want to call it. Things like my more extensive first aid kit, water supplies, ammo, shotgun shells, tools, cooking utensils, etc. 
These kinds of supplies are infrequently used, so simply making them part of a regular stock rotation is an impractical solution. This means that managing these items requires a bit of special attention.

The key to managing infrequent items is having a schedule and checking them at regular intervals. Luckily, your vehicle has several of these: You license it yearly, change oil and rotate tires 2-4 times yearly, and fuel it frequently. These intervals make wonderful points to perform checks on your vehicle and supplies.

Fuel Stop Checks
When you fuel your vehicle, check your oil and coolant. If you keep any spare fluids in your car, or a fuel can, check levels on those as well. These are the items you'll use the most, and the items most likely to need replacement. Any other vehicle consumables (exhaust fluid, etc.) should get checked on this interval.

Oil Change Checks
Depending on your vehicle manufacturer's instructions, your car will likely get its oil changed 2-4 times per year. Tires should also be rotated on a similar schedule. This preventative maintenance will save you a world of pain. 

If you keep food in your vehicle, check it when you change your oil. The same goes for anything else with an expiration date. Mark the expiration date on each item's package, so that it is easy to quickly check. Rotate out and replace any item that is due to come up before your next oil change, and use it up if possible to prevent waste.

Registration Checks
Once a year (in most states, at least) you have to register your vehicle and get new tags on your license plates. This time is a great reminder to check supplies in your vehicle that may need to be replaced, but that won't go critically bad simply from age.
  • Inventory your first aid kit and replace any needed items. 
  • Check and replace the batteries on any lights or other electronics kept in your car. 
  • If you keep any spare parts in your car, make sure that they're still there and in working order. 
  • Those of us with experience in older cars often keep belts and other parts that are prone to breakage and simple to replace in the vehicle. More modern cars are far less prone to problems, but it's still a decent habit to get into. 
  • This is also a good time to make sure that any tools that should be in the vehicle are present and in proper working order.
All of this is made even simpler if you make a list of all the supplies you want (or should have on hand) in your vehicle. List any consumables, food, tools, or other supplies, and simply work down it at the appropriate intervals. The checks themselves will likely take less than 15 minutes each, but can save you hours on the side of the road and may very well save your life.

Lokidude

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