August OTA: Clothing and Hygiene

Our August Opportunity to act is: Clothing and Hygiene

This is a great time to get deals on clothing with the back to school sales and tax breaks.

Ideas for clothing:

Scrubs: light, comfortable, adjustable (if you get thinner or fatter)

Next year’s size: For kids, if you buy the next size, when they suddenly outgrow something, you look in their kit first. This has been a life saver for a last minute pair of socks or underwear, too. Put a few extra of each package away in the kit. *Remember to buy the next size and replace it in the kit.

Sweats: Although a better idea for up North, Sweats could still work here. If it is hot, you can cut off the sleeves and the legs. You can sleep in them. They stretch, etc.

Shoes: You want a sturdy pair especially if you are walking out in after-hurricane debris. Start with your sturdiest old pair instead of throwing them out. Eventually buy ahead or get some metal soled work boots as a permanent addition.

No room in your pack for shoes? Tie them with the laces to the outside. You will probably wear them anyway.

Extra socks and Underwear: It is very hard to stay dry in the heat (sweating) and rain. Pack extra socks and underwear in waterproof bags.

Long sleeves: Although long sleeves seem counter-intuitive, if you burn easily, you might prefer a long sleeve shirt with a collar. An old Sunday shirt might work well for men. Think beach or boating–what would you like to have out in the wet, sun, and heat all day?

Hats and Ponchos: Sun and Rain: Find ones that pack well and are reuseable. Big trashbags can be your first ponchos, then save up for something better (if you want).

Hygiene: Think what you would need for 3 days. A wash rag might be a useful edition as you may have to sponge shower for quite a while. You can live without deodorant, but you’ll be glad if you don’t have to.

One often neglected item is some type of petroleum jelly for rashes. Choose clothes that do not rub when wet especially between the legs and along the calves. Use the jelly as soon as a problem begins to help prevent it from getting worse.

Toothbrushes: You can get them prepasted or the tiny wisp brushes to save space or just a regular dollar store version. This is another great thing to have an extra of around for company or when you just found your toddler scrubbing the toilet with yours. 🙂 lol

Other ideas you might want to include: anti-itch cream, diapers, depends, pullups, fem hygiene, wet wipes or paper towels, toilet paper, etc.

New to Hurricane Country

If you are new to Hurricane Country, you will want to

1–Get a hurricane preparedness guide from your local EOC

2–Become familiar with the hurricane categories and their meaning

3–Be sure to include protection from flooding, rain, mosquitoes–bug spray, and sun–hat, sunscreen, shade.

4–Prepare an evacuation kit (72 hr emergency survival kit)

5–Prepare for a week or more of sheltering at home without electricity and/or water.
a chorded phone requires no electricity, store ice, gradually empty freezer and fill with ice during hurricane season, store a cooler and ice chest, (Other ideas: camp stove, generator, chain saw –ideas not requirements.) Store water and additional medical and first aid supplies at home.

6–Watch the weather. If you are traveling or not, keep a heads up for the weather. Prepare for a hurricane in advance. Have a plan to protect your home and windows if you are a home owner.

7–Evacuate if asked to do so. Hurricanes are much more frightening and/or dangerous than most people give them credit for. Be overly cautious and overly prepared to protect life and property.

8–Hurricanes often have tornados that start up out along the edges. Because the hurricane is gone does not mean there is no danger. The eye of the hurricane is silent and still by comparison. It might be only half over, don’t go out too soon.

9–Hurricanes take a long time coming BUT they can suddenly speed up or change direction.

10–It can be long, hot and boring. Keep games or other non-electric activities and ideas on hand to pass the hours especially with children. A battery powered or hand operated NOAA radio will keep you up on the weather news and changes.

11–Board and Unboard: a boarded up home can become a fire hazard. So, you don’t want to board up months in advance or keep it boarded months afterwards. Use your best judgment, but don’t stay boarded longer than necessary.

12–You can add changes to your roof and home to make a stronger, internal shelter. Investigate these if you are interested and able.

13–Roof damage is very common and because it happens to so many at once may be impossible to get fixed right away. Store some big tarps to tack over it while waiting. Make sure you get a licensed professional so you don’t become a fraud victim. The state has information to help you with ensuring you hire a true professional and to help with insurance claims, etc.

14–Have a land line phone: This becomes a reverse 911 where the city can call you to alert you of danger. If you don’t have a land line, register your cell number with the emergency operations in your city.

15–Plan an out of state contact. Make sure all family members know to contact this person to help when getting information and getting back together after a major catastrophic event.

16–Recovery takes time. Sometimes years. Expect to lose some work and save money and supplies to get you through these seasons.

What if I have no money?

Personal Abridgements: Living Well Together

It does take some money to build or rotate a survival kit.
But, it doesn’t take any money to gather what you have.

Start with what you have. Gather it together into a plastic trash bag or pillow case. Work from there.

It doesn’t take money to plan.
Make a list of what you need.
Take the time to sort it with most critical on top. Then, when you have the opportunity to work on it, start at the top.

It doesn’t take money to store water.
Ask a friend or neighbor for their old, empty two liter bottles.
Clean them thoroughly and fill with water at the tap or a drinking fountain.
You can live without almost everything else, but you NEED water. Find a way to store water. A gallon of drinking water is usually around a dollar. If you have little or no money, buy this before…

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Mistakes to Avoid

The most common mistake I would think is to not get started collecting what you have. Most people have what they need to survive 3 days in their home or nearly. Start with what you have and get going!

Another common mistake is overdoing it. Your goal here is survival. You can live without deodorant. You can live without food for three days (granted, we wouldn’t want to). But, the point is, you don’t need a stocked mobile home to survive. Think simple and survival, then make it more comfortable later.

Recognize that you are actually preparing for 2 things. 1–evacuation (this is what you need your kit for–your home becomes unsafe)
2–sheltering at your home: power outage, water out, stuck inside your home for whatever reason.

These needs are different. Start with 72 hr survival kit, then work up to surviving a week in your home with no power, water, etc.
For people with wells, no power = no water.
For example: A generator has no place in a 72 hr kit, but might solve a lot of problems when sheltering at home for a longer time period.

Not trusting yourself
You know best what you and your family need. If you don’t, keep track of everything you use for a few days. Then, simplify it to what you actually need to survive. Take care to include baby, hygiene, medical, weather, important papers, etc.

Use a list, but more importantly, use your brain and trust yourself. No one has everything they need handy in an emergency, but hopefully we will have something to share as well. Together neighbors will work together. Do your part. START

Not Gathering Reliable information:

Talk to people who have lived through several hurricanes. Talk to long time neighbors. Visit Red Cross and Government hurricane preparedness websites. Find out what they know. Get tips from experience. Get tips from people who live in your similar type of home and location. Get tips from people with a similar family set up. Get tips from community emergency resources. Take the time to find out what you don’t know, especially if you are new to the area.

Assuming one hurricane is like another
There are several classifications of hurricanes all with different risks. If you made it through a category 1 sheltering at home, don’t assume a category 4 will be the same.

Not checking the News or Weather

Don’t blindly head home during hurricane season without checking the weather. I often joke that I was on a ship during a hurricane. It is true only because I was headed straight into hurricane Charley after a trip to visit family out of state. If my husband hadn’t warned me, I would have been driving right into it. Thankfully he contacted me in time and we stayed in Alabama and visited the battleship there for a day while avoiding the storm.

How to Pack your Kit

How to pack is personal, and there is no one “right” way.
However, if you want some tips, here is what I’ve found to be helpful:

1. Pack heavier items at the bottom and/or the back (near your back if it is a backpack). If you have clumpy items like cans, put some clothing immediately next to your back for comfort, then the heavier items, then the lighter items farthest from your back. (*be sure if you pack cans, you pack an opener. The army surplus store has tiny ones for little cost.)

2. Pack items that need to be rotated more often near the top. This could include your food, batteries and OTC or RX medication. These are items you want to rotate at least every 6 months. (glasses, water, and in fact everything in the kit should be double checked, rotated and re-packed once a year to be sure the clothes fit, etc.)

3. Pack items you may need immediately near the top: poncho, first aid kit, emergency contact numbers. Sometimes these things might more easily be found in an outside pocket. You might want to laminate your card with emergency contact numbers or keep it in waterproof plastic. Numbers should be updated at least twice a year as well.

4. Batteries: Store these OUTSIDE of your devices and encased in plastic. Old batteries often leak and ruin your equipment.

I’d love to hear your tips and comments about packing. What have you learned in your experience?

Bags: What is the best size of pack? Type?

The best size or type will be what works best for you or your family. There is no “right” or best answer.

But, some things you want to keep in mind:

1. Easy to carry or roll if lifting is a problem. Even children can carry their own if it is in a backpack they can lift. This is in case you have to hike out of where you are to seek shelter in another location. Worst case scenario, you have to walk, there could be trees down or debris in the road. So, think light and portable.

2. Waterproof: Here in FL, especially during the summer or hurricane season, when it rains, it pours. So, you want your kit to be waterproof. Ideas: Check boating supplies and camping supplies for waterproof bags. Or, just get a really big poncho and wear it over your pack. You can put every item in your bag into smaller plastic grocery bags or zip locks or all of it in a trash bag to waterproof your kit more economically. I recommend you do this anyway, that way if something leaks or spoils, it doesn’t ruin everything.

3. Economical: It should fit into your budget. It should work for you. You can always upgrade later. Really a double lined trash bag with items inside that are also packed in plastic will work fine until you can find something better. Goodwill and other places might have luggage or backpacks for less cost that would work just fine. Remember the idea is to survive, not fashion. Really, if it works, you don’t even have to like it. 🙂 Similarly, a big pillow case lined with plastic would work. Just sling it over your shoulder like Santa if you have to hike it out.

4. Size: It depends on what you are packing what size is best. You might wait to purchase or decide on your container until you have gathered all your supplies and see how big you need. Each item can be many different sizes: For instance: a heavy duty poncho is going to be much bigger than the flimsy pocket sized ones.

To save space, take off extra packaging. Squeeze out air. You might trying rolling clothing items or putting them in zip lock and squeezing out the air to save space.