We get this question a lot, and the answer may surprise you. Yes, emergency kits can expire, or more accurately some of the items inside can expire and need to be replaced.
Emergency Food Expiration
The most common type of emergency food inside kits (including our own!) is called ‘food ration bars.’ These calorie-dense bars are baked and vacuum sealed to ensure they are safe to eat for at least 5 years. An expiration date is printed on the packaging for the most accurate information.
Your kit or emergency supply cache could also include freeze dried food options that typically have a longer shelf life. These food packs may require you to add hot water before consuming and generally have a shelf life of 10 years, some more. Expiration dates should be clearly printed and easy to find.
The final type of emergency food you may find is called an MRE (Meal – Ready to Eat). Most commonly used by the military, these self-contained meals have a shelf life of 3 years.
Emergency Water Expiration
The most common type of emergency water comes in these 4.25 oz pouches that look strikingly similar to Capri Sun packs. Similar to food ration bars, these are rated as safe to consume for up to 5 years.
Alternatives like Puravai or Blue Can Water have longer shelf life between 20 and 50 years. If you’re building your own kit, be aware that your average consumer water bottle only has a shelf life of one year. We highly recommend using an emergency water solution, but if you do standard bottles, set a reminder to swap them out regularly.
Interesting fact, when it comes to emergency water, what actually expires is the packaging, not the water itself. As always, expiration dates on all emergency water should be clearly printed. Be sure to find and identify yours before you store your kit!
First Aid Kit Expiration
This one may surprise you, but first aid kits expire and need to be changed out, usually every 3 or 5 years unless specifically indicated. Items like ointments, medications, and sterile gauze or equipment can become unsafe to use after an extended period, so it is very important to swap these out.
If your kit doesn’t have an expiration date printed on the outside, check any medication inside to get a good idea of when you should refresh yours.
Hygiene Products Expiration
One last thing that you should consider refreshing inside your emergency kit is any hygiene products. Items like shampoo and toothpaste may not become dangerous after their expiration, but they certainly lose their effectiveness over time. To maintain proper hygiene during an extended emergency, refresh these items within 5 years.
No matter the item, always look for an expiration date before using. You don’t want to complicate an emergency situation by consuming expired products.
Set reminders to check your emergency kit and refresh any expired items -- if you buy any Complete Kit from Redfora, we will alert you when items are about to expire and offer a simple way to refresh them with high quality items!