Day 17 – National Preparedness Month Challenge – 72 Hour Kits, Clothing & Shelter
For those of you who have taken this challenge as a way to get your kits back up to date, I’m going to guess that you had the same first thought as I did the last time I took a look at mine. “Wow there’s no way any of us would fit in these clothes!” Clothes become the after thought of the 72 hour kit. Let’s face it, you can live a week in the same clothes if needed and it wouldn’t kill you (although your teenage daughter may claim otherwise). However it’s important to consider clothing’s importance in a disaster.
Clothing provides a number of functions that we take for granted daily.
- Privacy and modesty
- Sanitation (keeping parts of the body free from cuts and infection, or
harmful germs and bacteria)
- Comfort – think PJ’s when you’re sick
- Warmth and balanced body temperature
- Routine – we do it every day
- Confidence and self esteem
In a disaster situation all of these areas WILL be affected in some way.
- Privacy and modesty – clothing could become ripped and torn in inconvenient locations during the disaster or clean up
- Sanitation – exposed areas are more prone to cuts and germs increasing risk of injury, infection, and disease (not to mention we’ll begin to stink after awhile!)
- Comfort – everything else could be lost and you could be stuck in wet clothes, or short sleeves in cold weather
- Warmth and balance body temperature – goes hand in hand with comfort, but more for health and safety. Remember Eskimo’s prove the importance of clothing to survival daily.
- Routine – returning to a daily routine is one of the best steps toward psychological healing
- Confidence and self esteem – it’s hard to have your world shattered and not have it feel like a reflection of you. When you’re forced to wear the same thing for weeks on end, it’s a bit degrading.
There are a lot of things to consider in packing clothing for your 72 hour kit(s)
- Size – Always go at least one size bigger, this means you can layer items easily if needed.
- For children pack 2 sizes too big, include a rope for a belt. This should cover any growth spurts between rotations. I promise it’s much easier to put a child in clothes that are too big than to shove them kicking and screaming into something to small.
- For adults – you may not think you need to worry about rotating your clothes, but we change sizes just like our kids. We just tend to grow horizontally rather than vertically. Try them on each year and go up one size to accommodate any fluctuations.
- Seasons – there are two approaches to this one. A) Rotate clothes at the seasons – summer clothes, winter clothes. Or B) packs for cold weather and include a good pair of scissors for “altering” as needed to fit the temperature.
- How much – I would include a change for each day your kit is stocked for, even though I recommend that you don’t change simply because the clothes are there. This allows for damage to clothing during clean up or the disaster. Clothing isn’t deemed essential so when help arrives, clothing may not be included. Having 3 days worth of clothes gives enough time to hand wash and air dry at least one outfit to be used for several days at a time. For younger kids pack 1-2 more, bed wetting is a common symptom of trauma.
- Quality – I recommend buying used clothing. This isn’t a fashion contest, it’s a disaster. Find things that you would be comfortable wearing and working in for a few days at a time. If you’re going to buy something new, go with a good pair of heavy duty work pants and a sturdy sweat shirt. For kids, pack clothing that is used (they can feel the difference especially if they have special needs), and familiar (favorite characters, or familiar styles and brands; things similar to what they already wear). Since kids grow out of clothes frequently used clothing will save you a lot of money. If possible pack the same colors for the whole family, for ease of identification and visibility.
- Shoes – 1 pair of CLOSED toe shoes for each person. Even if you leave with your usual pair on your feet, an extra will come in handy. In the off chance that you couldn’t find your shoes fast enough and left barefoot, well, you’re covered. This is especially important with kids. Kids have a natural talent for losing or hiding their shoes, playing hide and seek tennis shoes in a disaster is not a good plan of action.
- Don’t forget: Socks, gloves, underwear, and hats.
I’ll admit, until recently I’d never given thought to shelter being a part of my 72 hour kit. Somehow it finally dawned on me that my kit will only go so far if I’m sitting in the rain shivering and wondering how to make a lean-to from what’s left of my house. Not a pleasant picture is it?
Honestly just the idea of looking for shelter in a disaster puts me on the edge of panic. It couldn’t really be that bad could it? Most of us have rarely put up a tent let alone built a structure of any kind, so let’s keep it simple and easy.
Ideas for shelter
- Tarp, stakes, and rope – find a location with a good tree or poles that will most likely survive disasters in your area. You are going to tie a rope to the trees, hang the tarp over the rope, and tie the corners down to the stakes. Practice this before you need to do it and get familiar with knot tying.
- Pop up tent – (2-Person Pop-Up Tent at Amazon) these are usually two man tents, but have a quick set up (they really POP UP like they’re called). They are often small and ultra light for back packing.
- Regular tent – (Coleman Sundome® 4-Person Tent on Amazon) be sure it’s accessible like your kits, and that you’ve had plenty of practice setting it up. Remember these aren’t light and are usually more complicated to put together.
- There are also simple tarp canopy shelters available at most emergency supply stores. (Tarp canopy at Amazon)
Although we covered this in Day 4’s planning, identify potential public shelter locations that you can reach in an emergency. Public shelters have a bit of a bad reputation, but I think it’s safe to say those horror stories are the exception not the norm, or they would find a safer and better way to provide shelter for the masses.
Take some time – ahead of time – to identify places that you or your family can set up your private shelter in a disaster. Be sure its on high ground, away from buildings, can be easily reached and has the needed materials (trees, poles, flat area for tents, etc) to set up camp. This should be identified in your emergency plan as well.
You don’t need to be Survival Man to have shelter; you just need to be prepared.
Today’s Challenge Clothing and Shelter Basics
Good: Locate the clothing needs for your family using the printout from Day 10. Make a list of items, size, cost (new or used) and the person they belong with. This will be your purchasing schedule and goal. Add one form of shelter to your kit. Mark your public and private shelters in your emergency plan.
Better: Purchase at least half of the clothing items on your list from above. Separate them by person (and season if you choose) into labeled zip lock bags for easy rotation and waterproofing. For shelter be sure each family member has one form of shelter or create a plan for purchasing a more ‘quality” option for you kits.