When you think Clothing and Shelter Preparedness you need to think about them in terms of environmental control, durability, repair, and safety. These four aspects cover all of the potential considerations for being self-reliant in matters of clothing and shelter, which is why both are considered as one Principle of Preparedness.
First let’s take the clothing aspect. The clothing which you purchase today may end up being clothing that you rely upon long-term. I’m not just talking about some kind of a survival situation in which you end up wearing the same pair of jeans and tennis shoes for 11 days while you try to navigate your way out from under earthquake debris. Preparedness minded clothing actually involves much more everyday kind of thinking as well. For example, while the jeans you’re looking at may be absolutely head-turning adorable—verify that they are extremely durable, well crafted (so as to minimize repairs) and adaptable for future fashion trends as well. I’ll be perfectly forthright here, I love being a girly girl, dressing up, and feeling pretty. But I still keep my clothing tastes reigned in from a practical stand point and will then accessorize with more trendy, less expensive items to make my outfits more socially acceptable for both business and regular social environments. On the other hand, I have a small bin of clothes that I’ve purchased from the localthrift stores that may not be fashion friendly, but that are undeniable durable and necessary should my life take on more physical labor. I have a bin for both my husband and myself and for both cold and warm weather. When it comes to preparing appropriately for the children’s clothing needs, I highly recommend making use of hand-me-downs from friends and family and thrift stores. If you find something that will work for future sizes of your children that is in good condition and durable, by all means, pay that thrift store price and sleep better at night! I recommend 3-5 outfits for each child, for both warm and cold weather, for the upcoming 3 years of anticipated sizes. As an experiment, I took some neighbor kids shopping with me one day at a thrift store. The children's ages were 6, 8 and 11. For less than $13 per child I was able to get all of the outfits (with the exception of shoes, socks, and underwear) for each child. That’s right. Both warm and cold, 3-5 outfits, for 3 years of anticipated sizes. I specifically chose 2 outfits in bright colors—for easy identification purposes—and one outfit of dark colors—for strategic concealment if necessary. This is definitely a worthwhile focus of high value to consider in your preparedness efforts. When it comes to shoes and socks and underwear, I personally believe in having an entire year’s supply of underwear and socks for everyone and three pairs of shoes on hand for their present size. The reason why I have allotted so much in underwear and socks is because my research of previous disasters always manifests a unique finding that these two items were oft requested and made a world of difference to survivors of traumatic circumstances. So such a goal is practical and preparatory from the standpoint that it allows me to assist others. I also find that the women and children shelters nearby are always in need of such items. The icing on the cake is that I’m constantly able to purchase such items for about 10 cents on the dollar by combining coupons with sales. (Please don’t allow yourself to believe for one moment that you are the exception to this rule. I’ve lived in all but 13 states in the U.S. and traveled all but 2 of them. Getting amazing deals on these items is very realistic everywhere.) I find that my nieces and nephews go through 2 pairs of recreational shoes on an annual basis, and that’s just with regular wear and tear. If you consider the possible necessity of walking lengthy distances each day or more physical labor, then the 3rd pair of recreational shoes will be vital. Again, I have had no problem over the years purchasing such items for my husband and I, very, very affordably (I know, it's not really even a word) by employing coupons coupled with sales. As an aside, any time you can get your hands on shoe/boot strings for a deal, I’d snatch them up! One other point that I feel merits restatement, is that even if you’re dressed for a special night out in your more “high brow” attire, always be sure that you have back up shoes and clothing in your vehicle. (This is one of the reasons why I always insist on driving.) Remember, I mentioned “safety” as a consideration for proper clothing preparedness. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation in which you curse those flip flops or 3 inch stilettos. Shelters, such as our homes, tents, or campers, are simply an extension of our personal shelter needs met by clothing. A good shelter should provide protection from the elements, security from those who might harm us, and satisfy the emotional need of home. I always say, “Home is where my food is.” *grin* What I mean by that is even if you are uprooted and need to go somewhere else, if you can introduce familiar objects, meals, blankets, etc. into the new environment, then you will be able to satisfy the emotional needs of all of your family members. Just as you do with clothing, you’ve got to anticipate some future needs such as tools and supplies for common repairs, maintenance, and modifications with the consideration of crisis circumstances—and above all—tools to ensure your shelter is one of safety. In a “lights out” scenario, I consider my tools of self-defense as critical as my tools which will hide the light in my home from outside viewers. Having plywood to board up my windows in the event of a hurricane is just as important to me in terms of safety as a well-stocked first aid kit. Quality shelter and the means to maintain it will go a long way to prevent the need for more extreme emergency measures. Obviously, having appropriate tools, repair and maintenance supplies BEFORE a need arises is considered “preparedness.” Going to the hardware store after a major storm or tornado has been announced is called emergency preparedness. (It still baffles me all of the people who live in hurricane prone areas who don’t have any nails and plywood on hand when they know where they live and what the weather’s like.) Staying on top of structural issues, maintaining the proper function of doors, windows and piping—these are all components which ensure a more safe and reliable shelter. For example, poor plumbing could turn into a matter of life and death when sewage is able to back up into the home. Thinking as to how these kinds of matters will be addressed before they occur is vital—and obviously even more important than the typical “preparedness concerns” of food and water. While the body can endure long periods of time without either food or water and still live, hypothermia or heat stroke exposure can take a life in a matter of hours. Part of my own considerations in being prepared in this area is to have plenty of “just in case” structure supplies. Duct tape, nails, 3 or 4 hammers, cordless drills (that are always fully charged) Visqueen/plastic tarps, stapler gun, plywood, rope, some 2 x 4’x AND homeowners/renters insurance are all key essentials to my Shelter Preparedness supplies. (I just bought a bunch of the window sealing kits for only $2 on clearance at Wal-Mart this past week—sweet!) All of these tools will come in handy for many potential natural disasters and so much more. Quality clothing and shelter will have an impact on the remaining principles of preparedness as well, such as Financial Preparedness. While having a leaking roof may not be the end of the world to some, it could be a painful hit to a family that suddenly has to come up with a $1,000 deductible. As always, Preparedness is an everyday affair and clothing and shelter is no exception to that rule of thumb. Safety, maintenance, meeting emotional needs—these are all matters which we focus on today and will need to focus on everyday. When it comes to safety within one’s shelter, I personally believe that you can never been too careful. Locking the door as soon as you enter your home; screens on all of the windows; wooden dowels in each of the sliding windows to act as an additional stop; and even the placement of mirrors, wall art, and furniture all can be used as strategic safety measures for your home and those of your loved ones therein. The wide scope peep hole, establishing rule with what children convey to strangers on the telephone, outside lighting, etc., these are all a part of the Clothing/Shelter Principle of Preparedness. Reminding you of another hard and fast rule, please, don't "surprise yourself" with the use of the tools and resources you have planned for meeting these particular needs. Use the drill. Test those sealed windows at night and determine if your visqueen is thick enough to hide the light. Assemble your big tent. Try the clothes on periodically. Surprise and stress do not mix well, I assure you. Become as familiar with the contingency plans and the tools you intend to use as possible. While this particular principle of preparedness is vast, I hope that this article has at least done some good in getting your gears going and coming up with contingency plans and solutions as to how you can be better prepared in this particular area.
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