Emergency Preparedness: Secure enough clothing to last a week
May 07, 2011 04:00 am

This is part four of a continuing series about disaster preparedness on the Southern Oregon Coast. The previous stories were published on March 26 (water), April 6 (prescription drugs), and May 4 (food).


For the next few months I will be purchasing one item (or set of items) on the Red Cross Disaster preparedness list, or finding the one I already have in my home. Then I will put it in a designated disaster kit storage area.

I challenge readers to do the same.


Each week I will choose one item from the Red Cross list, with alternatives and tips.

This week I am packing clothes and warmth and shelter-related items, mostly from things I already own.


Clothing

Imagine that you had to leave your home in terrible weather conditions – cold and rain – and you had to wear the same clothes for several days or even weeks.

This is the reality that people face who are displaced from their homes by an earthquake, such as the people in Japan who were struck by the Honshu earthquake in March.

People who survived that earthquake and tsunami immediately sought four things: water, food, warm, dry clothing and shelter.

According to the American Red Cross, residents should pack the following clothes in their earthquake survival kit for each member of the household:

•Raincoat, poncho, or other waterproof jacket with a hood.

•Rain pants or other waterproof pants.

•Warm sweater, preferably wool or fleece, because these materials still keep you warm even when they are wet.

•Socks. Pack 1-2 changes of clean, warm, dry socks.

For my own kit, I am packing comfortable old clothes that I don’t wear anymore; good working clothes that won’t get in my way and I won’t care if they are ruined. My clothes bag includes comfy old sneakers, sweats, shorts, worn or stained T-shirts, an old coat, fleece gloves, underwear and socks.

All of your emergency clothing should fit in a medium or large (not oversize) duffel bag or backpack.


Warmth and shelter

In Oregon, staying warm often means staying dry.

Brookings’ designated disaster shelter is the Brookings-Harbor High School cafeteria. However, after a major disaster, the shelter may be crowded.

According information given during to the January DOGAMI earthquake and tsunami meeting, most buildings will remain standing. Many will be fortunate enough to be able to remain in their own homes, but some who could may choose to stay outside. Concerns that aftershocks could cause more damage or collapse a surviving building are common.

In 1989, after the Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco area, many people camped in their yards for a week or more after the quake, afraid to spend much time in thier homes until the structures could be inspected and the threat of major aftershocks diminished.

We keep our camping equipment near our disaster kit. I store my hiking boots and socks there too, which could come in handy and they are still available for during camping trips.

We have a large cabin tent as part of our camping supplies, which we intend to set up in our yard, if need be. Like many people, we have various pieces of plywood, which would serve as a temporary floor under the tent, to raise it above muddy or wet ground.

Similarly, picnic canopies can cover a cooking area, and wet clothing can be hung underneath to dry in wet weather.

Do NOT use a campstove, barbecue or outdoor fireplace  inside of a tent or other enclosed place, no matter how cold or wet it gets. Carbon monoxide is produced by these items, and carbon monoxide can kill anyone who is in the enclosed area.

Blankets or sleeping bags are also useful. Military surplus wool blankets stay warm even when wet.

If you’re a wuss like me and find sleeping on the ground to be almost worse than not sleeping at all, a pool float can be uses as an affordable, temporary sleeping pad. The floats store in a very small space until they are inflated.

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Next week’s item: emergency communication.

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For those who prefer to just buy a ready-made essentials kit, go to www.redcrossstore.org, where they have kits already packed into backpacks or duffle bags.

A complete list of items recommended for a disaster supply kit can be found at www.redcross.org