Test Your Gear

bsbWe have all heard it. Test your gear; make sure you know how to use it and that it works when you need it.

This weekend I experienced this first hand with something that I “thought” would work and didn’t need testing. It was a simple Berkey Sport bottle.  I keep one in both cars as part of my get home bag system.  When I purchased the bottles, I just put them in the cars, after all, it is a simple bottle with a filter and a straw right?

Well, the instructions actually state you should flush out the filter before using by filling the bottle with clean water and flushing it through the filter.  You should do this twice.  I knew this when I purchased them, but, I thought if I did that, then put them in a hot car; they might grow musty or moldy since the filter would be wet.  My thought process was good, but it was also a fail because I didn’t following the instructions which would have had me test the gear, in this case the bottle and straw.

This weekend, I decided I should flush out those filters; after all, I didn’t want to have to put those bottles to good use and find that I was drinking the residue that is left from the manufacturing of those filters when I really needed to be drinking clean water.

It was a good thing I did.  I filled up the first bottle with clean tap water, screwed on the lid and started to squeeze only to find out, nothing happened, it was air tight.  So I thought, “no big deal, the filter has to fill up with water and then water will come out the straw when I squeeze”.  I squeeze some more and nothing.  Then I decided to suck on the straw, nothing, the straw was slightly pinched shut. It was simple to fix, I just stretched it a bit and rolled it in my fingers a bit and it came free.  I was then able to squeeze out the water in the bottle to flush out the filter and was also able to suck up water through the straw.

Now, to be clear, this was not a defect in the Berkey Sport bottle at all, this bottle is solid and has what I think is one of the best filters out there, I highly recommend having one for every member of your family.  It was just that the bottle had been sitting in my car for months in the “closed” position and the straw just got stuck or pinched shut.  It was easy to resolve.

It was also a very good lesson that we should never take our gear for granted no matter how simple it is.

When you get new gear you should:

  • Immediately follow the instructions on how to set it up
  • Test how to use it, not just once but multiple times
  • Don’t put it away and forget it, get your gear out at least every quarter and test it out, insure it works properly and that you know how to use it.

The time to test your gear is when you are calm and life is good, it would just add to a disaster if you found your gear didn’t work or you didn’t know how to use it at a time your life depended on it.