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. ๐Ÿ™‚ lol

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

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Fireproof Important Documents

If I understood correctly, household fires are the most common emergency that Red Cross responds to. Keep in mind that although you may be preparing for a hurricane or another likely emergency in your area, that household fires are a danger to us all at any time.

A fireproof box can be purchased to include documents like wills, passports, birth certificates, and other important documents and identification. These are portable, so you can grab it if you need to evacuate. But, fireproof so that if you are unable to, these items should be protected. Different strengths and sizes are on the market. Research what you need. You may also want to include important pictures, family history information, or key contacts. Some small amount of emergency cash. Inventory of items owned–lists or pictures for insurance.

Other ideas for fireproofing documents include:

Store copies of important items and computer backups off site.

Use a bank safety deposit box

If you have other ideas, please submit them in a comment. I’d love to learn from you and help to pass it on.

Homeowners or Renters insurance may be able to insure you for replacement of most items. Take a moment to assess what is not replaceable and how to best protect that. Prevention including working fire alarms and extinguishers is always preferable to recovery.

June OTA (step 6)

Although Supplies and Equipment are listed as the 6th and final step to building your 72 hour emergency kit, I’m listing it here 4th or in June rather than August because of the Florida Tax holiday.

Greenies: Be sure you have tarps, flashlights and/or candles or oil lamps, plus the batteries and matches or lighters and oil to keep them going. Of course, flashlights would travel well in kits, oil lamps/candles might last well in an extended power outage at home. A good first aid kit is a must.

Experienced/maintaining: Add weather band radios, rotate batteries so they are all fresh, Start eating up the expensive items in your freezer and replacing it with ice or blue ice blocks, check and update your first aid kit. Make sure you have large enough tarps with plenty of ropes to tie them up in trees for shelters or homemade tents. These can also be tacked over leaky roofs or placed on the ground to protect sleeping areas. Keeping things dry will most likely be difficult. Extra rope can also be used to rig up laundry lines, etc. to dry wet items, etc.

Advanced: Take the opportunity to see if you want to purchase items like a generator and/or perhaps a chain saw (learn how to run one, buy protective equipment, I know you also need bar oil for this). Stock up on a reasonable amount of gas, oil, and bar oil. Learn precautions for any of this big equipment. Generators, for instance, should not be running indoors. If you have a generator or want to buy one, research what you would need. Does it have a refrigerator type plug? Could it charge your cell phone? Do you have enough heavy-duty, long extension cords (it has to be running outside and reach to your appliance, etc.). Gas cans need stabilizer added to them so that they are less flammable and less likely to explode, etc. in the heat. Take the time to study the safe use and storage of these items.

Gift your friends or neighbors with candles, oil lamps, flashlights or other emergency equipment to let them know you care.

This website is set up to help you go through the preparedness process especially for hurricanes. If you are in a hurricane prone area, you especially want to be familiar with NHCโ€“the national hurricane center and how you can check it for all hurricane related warnings, etc.

Also, a NOAA radio is particularly helpful to receive all weather related warnings and alerts at any time of the day or night. These can be purchased in many different places and for different prices. Some are like alarm clocks. These will warn you of weather conditions even if you are asleep. Check them before you buy. For some, they may not warn you at all if they remain unopened in your kit or if they need batteries and run out, etc. Know what it is you are purchasing and how to keep it working.

Step 2: Water

We can survive on a lot less than we think we can.  Water, though, is a necessity.  Begin by thinking about your water situation:  I’ve read that a gallon a person per day is enough.  That might be enough for drinking and surviving, but it isn’t enough for flushing toilets, washing dishes, and hygiene needs.  So, start with a gallon per person per day, but keep in mind, you will eventually want other sources as well. 

So, for a 72 hr emergency kit, you would need at least 3 gallons per person of safe, dependable drinking water.  Start with getting enough for your family for ONE day and work up to 3 or more.

Container Tips:  Thick, clear plastic water jugs work well and do not deteriorate like the milk jug type.  Milk-jug type water containers break down over time and may leak out and ruin things.  Smaller quart size water bottles might work better for putting in back packs, etc. 

Walmart and hardware stores will often sell water jugs in camping sections or near the same area where gas cans are displayed.  Gas cans are red.  Water cans are usually blue or white and usually are 2, 3, or 5 gallon size.  The larger cans are great for storing more water for longer than 72 hrs or for washing and hygiene uses. 

Two problems we’ve had with these blue and/or white large water containers:  We had no problem with them leaking when stored indoors or in the garage.  But, stored outdoors, the sun and weather broke them down over a year or so and they ended up cracking, and being useless.  So, they will need protection from the elements to stay secure.

A certain type of square water jug has a spigot that when stored in it leaves an open back end of the spout exposed on the top of the jug.  This just collects dirt and may compromise the integrity of the water.  Take care to experiment a little with the jug before you buy it and make sure it will actually be airtight. 

Bleach containers:  To use or not to use:  Bleach gallon jugs are actually made of very strong material and will last well.  BUT, we don’t want our children getting confused and accidentally drinking or using bleach like water.  My solution:  After ALL THE BLEACH IS GONE and it just smells like bleach but the bleach is gone, I fill it with water.  The left over chlorine will not be enough to harm and can keep nasty things from growing in it.  Then I TAKE OFF THE LABEL and I write H2O on it with a permanent marker.  So my water storage in these containers says H2O FOR CLEANING ONLY on it.  I wouldn’t trust drinking this water, but it will store long and well for other uses.  Also, children who are not old enough to understand the symbol will not know it means water.  I have had no incident that caused me to worry with this system. 

Water and rain barrels:  These can be purchased online or around here you can pick them up at the local green market.  The ones we have are thick, blue plastic, hold 50 gallons I believe and we have had no problem with them even out in the weather for years. 

In general, water must be rotated every year to stay tasting good.  But, I understand even old water can be boiled or aerated to make it safe and drinkable.  So, having water is by far preferable to not having it.