Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Part 4 - Logistics Series - Taming the Supply Closet - Storage Areas and Shelf Life

Logistics Series - Part 4 - Taming the Supply Closet - Storage Areas and Shelf Life

Getting people to document processes is like herding cats.  Keeping your disaster and training supplies tidy is a key factor in being able to deploy your team quickly.

Storage areas

Control access to the storage area

The process is easier when you can control access to the equipment storage area.  A simple door lock or padlock should suffice.  If access to the storage area cannot be controlled then using sturdy stack-able/lockable containers or lockable storage cabinets.

Identify the reasons people use the storage area

Either by using forms, asking questions or just observing what items are first to be placed in disarray, identify what are the most commonly used items and move those closest to entrance.  If people can find what they want they will tend not to dig deeper and make a mess.  Also, consumable items which expire quickly should be placed in an accessible area so it can be easily maintained.

Identify, document, standardize and group supplies needed to deploy and bind together

If you need medical bags, develop a list of supplies then tape, zip tie or otherwise make it easy to detect if some one has opened the package to pilfer supplies.   One way of accomplishing this is using an industrial size roll of plastic food wrap to wrap a shelf.  If holes appear in the wrap that means the shelf needs to be re-inventoried and re-sealed. 

Inventory everything at least yearly

If supplies go missing, expire or are broken, that needs to be documented and the items replaced or removed.

Storage conditions

When storing equipment you need to ensure the storage area is humidity and temperature controlled.
Extremes of both temperature and humidity will cause your equipment to degrade faster.

Everything has a shelf-life

Every item needs to be documented when it was added and removed on a regular basis.

  • Materials decay over time so 10 year old never been used rope may become brittle and dangerous to use if stored incorrectly
  • Freeze and thaw cycles, mold, fungus, bacteria , bugs, and other vermin can ruin your emergency food supply if not stored correctly
  • Paint and other chemicals can deteriorate if stored incorrectly
  • Water bottles may freeze/thaw then may spring a leak and cause water damage to your other supplies
  • Hand tools may rust if stored incorrectly
  • Insects may eat your non-synthetic blankets and clothing
  • Many CERT teams rely on a trailer or vehicle to store and transport their supplies.  Trailers and vehicles require yearly maintenance in the form of greasing bearings, pressurizing tires, watching for rust and weather damage
  • Electrical systems also need to be tested regularly
  • Small engines (generators, chain saws ..etc) require testing and regular maintenance
  • Fuel and oil will go bad over time and may need stabilizer to be added
  • Batteries will deteriorate over time and need to be replaced on a regular basis
  • Alkaline batteries can leak chemicals which will destroy electronics and flashlights if the batteries are not removed for storage

A lot can happen over a year and you need to catch things before they become a problem.

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