Emergency Clothing for Disasters
Ready to Go. Have some clothing pre-packed in a backpack for each family member, ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice. You may not have time to search for items and compile them during an emergency. This does not have to be your best clothes, but they do need to be adequate in time of emergency. These are general guidelines, and will need to be adjusted for your local climate and personal needs. You may have to repack according to the seasons.
In Your Car. Perhaps the best place to keep these packs is one complete in each of the cars you use. That way you will have a change of clothes for everyone if you are away from home when the emergency happens, whichever vehicle or vehicles you are in at the time.
Let me just mention here that it is also wise to have some food and water stored in your car as well. Make sure it is the type that will keep in the extreme temperatures the trunk of your car is subjected to during the year. If you are in a hot or even warm climate, do not use plastic bottles of water. Heat tends to leach out chemicals from pretty much all plastics. Oddly, the single-serving bottles of Perrier water may be a good choice, because the bottles are mostly glass, and it contains a pretty good balance of electrolytes. You may want to consider premade Emergency Packs of food. Make sure they are appropriate for high/low temperatures. You do not want spoiled or exploded food in your car.
The List. The same clothing list applies to Women, Men, Boys and Girls.
1 pair sturdy shoes such as athletic shoes or light boots to be able to walk over building debris, glass, through water, etc. It would be good for them to be waterproof. You can buy waterproofing for almost every kind of shoe at Wally Mart or other stores, usually in the shoe section.
2 pair sturdy socks.
2 pair underwear, including 2 bras for women.
2 or more t-shirts or sports shirts. Consider long sleeves. That will keep you warmer, and shield you from the sun. You can always trim off the sleeves if you need to.
2 pair long pants or jeans. Again, you can always make them shorter. A belt to go with them, if they need it.
1 sweatshirt and/or sweater. More for layering if you live in cold country.
1 jacket or hoodie appropriate for your area’s climate. 2 kinds if your climate varies quickly.
1 plastic rain poncho or heavier gear if appropriate for your weather.
1 knit hat for even the warmest climate. Hats other than knit are useful, but not as useful, and take up more space. Knit caps may not be popular in your age group or financial bracket, but they can be a lifesaver in even moderately cold situations. You lose 60 percent of your body heat through the top of your head. Knit caps tend to stay on well under any circumstances, and provide warmth even when they are wet. You can also include your favorite kind of hat in your pack.
If you can find a non-aerosol sunblock, include some with a very high SPF. It could save you a lot of pain if you suddenly find the highway gridlocked and you have to start walking.
If you have infants, be sure to have enough diapers, and any appropriate emergency food that will not spoil in your car. If you are nursing, make sure you have extra water for yourself.
For young children, throw in some activity or coloring books and pencils/colored pencils No crayons, since they melt in heat.
For older children, a non-battery toy would be nice.
Teens and above should be prepared to be able to help like an adult in an emergency. If they are not prepared, they will be a liability. So if you love them, help them become able in as many ways as you can teach them.
Heavy Duty Emergency Clothing. Much depends on how you are trained to respond to an emergency. Some of us are current or retired military, police or emergency services. If you do not currently have your own gear for a disaster response, now is the time to rectify that situation. You may have your own sources, or you can check out the sources on this website (Index of Suppliers).
The rest of us may also want to browse those sources. There is an almost endless spectrum of clothing and gear that can prove helpful or even life-saving in case of an emergency. I would direct your attention particularly toward extreme weather clothing and gear.
That said, many of us have on hand clothing that will work well enough during an emergency. The trick is to think about your clothes in terms of usability in a situation where you may be suddenly outside in the elements, with no shelter and no help at hand.
Maybe it’s time to replace that jacket, or your boots. Maybe even get the kind of boots you can put on in just a few seconds. How are your t-shirts and shirts? Are they up to the demands of a challenging situation? Women, do you own a pair of long pants that are appropriate for weather and extreme use? Does your entire family have sturdy outdoor shoes that they could walk in for several miles? Are the socks you have sturdy enough for that?
And wouldn’t it be a great idea to throw a compact emergency shelter into your trunk as soon as you can get one? It can be as simple as a tarp and some tie-downs for hot places, but if you live in snow country, it’s going to have to be sturdy enough to hold up in your worst weather. Do think about it. You may not be able to stay in your car because of the nature of the emergency.
Is a pocket knife clothing? I’ll let you decide that one. But it’s a part of mine. A handy blade has saved a life more than once in an emergency. You never know when you will really need to cut some sort of material. Like clothes, for bandages, or just to get them off an injured person. Or for making a spear for fishing, or whittling a fishhook, or parts of a snare. Food preparation. Taking things out of plastic wrapping that is just too tough to tear. As a can opener, if you really have to. The list is endless. Check your local laws as to size and how they can be carried. Doesn’t have to be a huge blade. 3 inches or so can take care of pretty much everything. Get one for each adult to carry in an easily accessible, legal place.