Disaster Planning

50% is The Critical Threshold to NEVER Drop Below in Your Preps

half full beerMy wife drives me crazy at times. I know, I know, that’s just the way marriage is at times and, to be honest, we get along marvelously most of the time… except when it comes to a few critical aspects of my incessant need to be ready and her slightly less lax attitude about such things. 😉

Certainly, my wife puts up with a lot from me–I can often be a royal pain in the rear–and one of those areas I seem to constantly harp on her about is my unwavering feeling that the 50% threshold is akin to the “empty” marker with nearly everything I’ve come to rely upon. It is, in fact, the critical threshold that must NEVER (ok, let’s say RARELY ever) be crossed, if you ask me.

Why a 50% Threshold? Why Not 25% or Even 75%?

Well, that’s a matter of opinion… sort of.  The way I look at it a 75% threshold means ensuring you replace your supplies whenever you’ve used up only a quarter of your supplies. In some cases this is easily accomplished such as with replenishing a few cans of whatever you used up while grocery shopping. On the other hand, if this were gasoline in a car then that would mean filling up when I still have 3/4 of a tank left, which probably is a little overboard, even for me.

If, on the other hand, I had waited until I only have 25% reserves left then I would say I’m getting too close to having nothing left and am dangerously close to being… dare I say… normal. 😉 Again, this means far less food in reserve, only a quarter tank of gas, etc.

More importantly, however, is that if I choose to keep my reserves at a 50% level or higher then I have options. For example, I have the capability to extend any food I might be able to procure during hard times, I can get further in my car if I’m forced to, I can try to place more emergency phone calls, and so on.

Here’s a few specific examples and some elaboration on the above…

Vehicle Fuel

Obviously, I feel very strongly about the need to keep the vehicle gas tank filled to half a tank or more if and whenever possible. I can’t say I’m perfect and there are times when I’m on a long road trip where I might ignore my rule and let it get down to a very scary quarter tank, but by-and-large half full or more is the norm around the city.

Yes, adhering to this philosophy is an annoyance at times as I feel like I’m always filling the gas tank but the effort is worth it to me because who knows when I’ll be (or my wife will be) stuck in traffic for hours on end due to an accident (or construction where nobody is actually working), stranded on the side of the road (in the freezing winter or worse the sweltering heat), or maybe the nearest gas station or entire town is out of fuel and I’ve got another 50 miles to the next town where I might have a chance to fill up. See? It’s about flexibility.

Food Storage

Foods you consume regularly (canned goods would be a prime example) are nearly impossible to keep at 100% capacity at all times but should be fairly easy to keep at 50% or more with little effort. As foods get used up simply put them on a list to be purchased at some later date. Obviously the trick is to make sure that gets done. If your family has trouble getting things on a list then consider a dry erase board where people can quickly jot down what’s needed, or perhaps develop a checklist of frequently eaten items posted on the fridge where the only thing people have to do is mark it as “needed.”

Anyway, usually ensuring your food is replenished isn’t a big problem if you go grocery shopping regularly but sometimes we have very specific places where we purchase specific foods from–I know I do–because they’re either cheaper, healthier, or perhaps we like a particular brand. So, this forces us to either shop these stores more often than we might otherwise do so or run the risk of using up more of our food stores than we should.

Granted, if you look at your food storage as a whole then this is less of a concern but it should go without saying that meals often require very specific ingredients, after all, it’s not like you can use a can of corn in green bean casserole, right? So, the point here is to consider even very specific components–in this case specific cans of food–as being every bit as important as your entire lot of stored foods.

Electronics (Especially Cell Phones)

Since cell phones are no doubt our primary means of communication these days they are, therefore, our primary means of communication during an emergency. As such, your cell phone battery charge is of utmost importance to keep charged. Again, 50% or more is what you want. In fact, get into the habit of charging your cell phone(s) each night regardless of how much charge remains.

In my wife’s profession as a midwife it’s absolutely necessary that she can be contacted so she’s a bit more “on board” with my line of thinking here but just in case I keep numerous chargers at home, a DC charger in the car, and more. I even keep another AC charger in her midwife bag just in case all else fails. Beyond that, I’ve become a big proponent of include a spare pre-paid phone in the vehicle glove box too as an absolute last ditch phone (thanks of Jack Spirko for this thought).

I would consider an assortment of other electronic devices to keep charged as well, such as my iPad (or any tablet device) since it’s becoming a very significant knowledge repository for me these days and even my kids iPods. Yes, I know they don’t NEED their iPods post-emergency but there could be plenty of downtime and if I can afford them some escape time on occasion then I’m ok with that. You might also try to keep laptops charged if you own them too.

One last consideration regarding electronics is to keep rechargeable batteries topped off as much and as often as possible. I’ve taught my kids where to get new batteries from and where to drop off the old ones so I know what needs charged and then it’s just a matter of me doing it.

Other Ideas

Ultimately, you could add many things to this list. Anything that gets used up and needs to be replaced is what I’m talking about, including personal hygiene items (e.g., toothpaste, floss, deodorant, soaps, etc), first aid supplies, medications (both OTC and especially Rx), and so on.


Certainly, 50% is a relative term. Somebody who regularly stockpiles a year’s worth of food is far better off having 50% of that stockpile as opposed to somebody who only keeps three months, for example. The same analogy can roughly be extended to any other area of preparedness, so it behooves you to stockpile as much as you can without incurring debt to make it happen because more stuff means more options. Plain and simple.

Start by making a list, tally how much you use, determine how long you think you need to rely on yourself, double it, and start stockpiling as much as you can afford to… you’ll never be sorry you had too much but you WILL be sorry you had too little. 😉

By Damian Brindle

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