Test your preps!

I know you’ve all heard this before, but I thought I would share a few recent events that brought ‘testing your preps’ to the front of my thoughts.

I have a 4AA battery headlamp that I use often.  I had some issues with past ones and was really impressed with the company’s customer service, so I bought a couple more which i’ve never used.  I decided to break them open and try them out.  The modes are high, low, and strobe.  While I was using one of them, suddenly the strobe mode came on without me touching the switch.  I tried to change the mode but the switch didn’t work.  I touched the front of the light and it was hot.  I touched the battery pack and it was really hot.  I hurriedly took out the batteries (which were also hot) and noticed that they were starting to melt.  These were lithium batteries, so you can imagine what could have happened.

I decided to test out the other one as well.  After 10 minutes, both the front light and battery pack were hot and again the 4 batteries were starting to melt.  I double-checked the polarity and they were correct.  The headlamp that I use often has 4AA lithium batteries.  The newer ones are slightly different as they have a different color battery cover, so I suspect there was a design change.  I’m down 8 lithium batteries but at least I wasn’t injured and it didn’t happen during a crisis.  The company has been out of business for several years, so no possibility of a return.

In another situation, I generally drain the batteries of my rechargeable radios and then fully recharge them twice a year.  I’m having a problem charging one of my radios.  The rechargeable battery was just replaced last year and I did some ‘conditioning’ to ensure a longer life.  What is really strange is it seems to hold a charge using the crank but not using either of my two AC chargers.  I’m still trying to figure it out but the radio can be operated with AAA batteries and I have a spare rechargeable battery pack. 

I’d like to hear from others about issues they have encountered because of not checking preps.  


  • Comments (2)

    • 3

      Nice post! I recently moved, which was arduous, because I and wonderfully helpful friends were taking all of my life possessions up multiple flights of stairs (no elevator), and then I was busy with work for a while. So, months later I only remembered how heavy the books were and forgot the weight of everything else.

      I mentally hand-waved my bug out plan as grabbing a “reasonable” list of things, hauling it downstairs to a vehicle, and heading out. That reasonable list included 2-3 of my “portable” water containers to make sure I and any travel companions had water on the road to a safer place, and also give me the flexibility of multiple containers when trying to acquire (and possibly treat) water while traveling. I have two 3.5 gallon containers, and two 6-7 gallon containers that are part of my preps.

      Well, I got enough free time to start going car camping again and on the first trip I took just one of the smallest (3.5 gallon) water containers down those multiple flights of stairs. I quickly realized my bug out assumptions were misguided. Because of the weight of a filled water container, and also that just one container monopolized a hand (I couldn’t carry anything else with that hand), in an emergency I’m pretty sure I’ll only be willing to take one of the 3.5 gallon containers with me. Even if I get my knees and quads back in shape for moving multiple heavy items up and down the stairs.

      So, now I have a better idea of this constraint to plan around, but I would have be surprised by this issue if I hadn’t used one of the water containers for camping fun and been getting more familiar with it that way.

      • 2

        The best tools and gadgets in an emergency are those with which you are familiar and are known to be reliable.