Wasp Barcode Technologies: The Barcode Solution People

Does Your Strategic Stockpile Pass the "Sniff Test"?

Emergency preparation Stockpile Inventory Management

It was shortly after an F4 tornado ripped through the nearby community of Rowlett, Texas, in December 2015 that I decided I needed to create a reserve of food, water and other essentials. I observed firsthand the impacts of sheltering in place and how there was limited access in and out of the community. I decided right then and there that on my weekly grocery runs, I would start picking up a couple of extra canned goods to keep them in reserve for the next emergency. I carefully made a hand-printed inventory list with the expiration dates clearly marked on top of each can. Over time I built up a 30-day food supply and I could check that off my list of things I needed to do to be prepared for a future emergency.

Fast forward to April 2020 and now it’s COVID-19 that has everyone sheltering in place. With canned goods and other staples hard to find, I decided it was a good time to open my reserves and rotate through some of the food stores. However, in the blink of an eye, it’s been over four years since I started building my cache. I discovered the first can of corn I pulled is now three years past its expiration date. I ran through my mental checklist to determine if it’s still edible: Is the can swelled? Nope. Upon opening the can, does it have a bad smell? Nope, it smells like canned corn. Is the color normal? Yes, it’s as yellow as the day it was packed. Alright, it passed what I call the “sniff test”, so I decided to eat it.

As I sat eating my dinner that included three-year-old expired corn, the daily news coverage of the COVID-19 updates played in the background. One story drew my attention. The government announced that it was in the process of sending out tons of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and some of these badly needed supplies were also past their expiration dates! Apparently, I’m not the only one who failed to rotate my stockpile. I’m not sure there is a “sniff test” for an N95 mask.

InventoryCloud, the inventory management solution from Wasp Barcode Technologies, could have prevented this and ensured everything was usable rather than relying on a “sniff test”. Among its many features, it tracks expiration dates and provides notifications when expiration dates are nearing, enabling you to properly rotate your stock. Equally important is the ability to run real-time reports to identify each item by expiration date and location, thus providing a snapshot of your stockpile’s status at any given time.

Regardless of what you call it – reserves, stockpile, or cache – everyone has a variety of low use items with expiration dates. Medical supplies are an obvious one, but others are not so obvious. Items like bleach (and other disinfectants), sunscreen, power strips and surge protectors, fire extinguishers, batteries, paints, manufacturing chemicals, and more.

This pandemic has given everyone a new perspective on inventory management and the need to ensure proper reserves. Be prepared for the next event. Start preparing today with InventoryCloud from Wasp Barcode Technologies and avoid having to rely on the “sniff test”.