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.


Susan · April 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I was just thinking of the clothing aspect of preparedness yesterday and wondering what an adequate amount would be to put back for each person in my family. Perfect timing, thank you!

Nancy · April 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Being able to sew and repair clothing is a good skill to learn if you don’t know how already.

DebbieCleveland · April 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Excellent advice! I feel good because I have been doing most of these things as a normal way of life! Thanks so much!

John · April 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

In light of the Japanese nuclear meltdown, and considering that many of the nuclear reactors in the USA are 40 years old and are still operating over their shelf life, if there was a radiation accident in the USA what kind of clothing, or what should we wear for protection?

    Kellene · April 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Well understand that clothing won’t protect us, but the shelter will. Under a roof is bare minimum protection, then on the first floor is better, and then ideally in the basement if you’re set up to live that way in a nuclear disaster scenario. Long sleeve clothing though, as well as full length clothing will help prevent exposure to radioactive dust being stirred up, along with face/breathing protection, head cover, and gloves. However, you’ll want to look at disposable forms of all of this to be wise in the event of radioactive fallout.

    Wayne · April 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Tyvek suits (painters use them) will protect you against contamination (particles which are radioactive), and protect against alpha radiation and lower energy beta radiation. Clothing will not protect against gamma or neutron radiation. (all four types of radiation would be present in a nuclear disaster). Shelter will protect you from fall out (contamination falling down from the sky) and building materials will protect from some forms of radiation. cement is a good neutron absorber because of the high water content but it doesn’t do much for gamma radiation (lead is the preferred shielding material for gammas).

    Bottom line, stay indoors and seal your house to minimize your radiation exposure (if you are not evacuating).

      Wayne · April 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      to clarify, Tyvek is not the only protective clothing, it’s just a simple thing to keep on hand that is a “coverall”, basically contamination protection starts with being sure NO skin is exposed, then removing layers and showering in a controlled manor to remove the contamination.

Pam · April 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Another great article Kellene! Living in the hot southwest I am always wondering what I can do to keep cool if for some reason the power goes out in the summer. I have thought of generators but they are quite costly and very noisy. I was thinking of looking into solar panels as an option but have just started to research the subject. There are sooooo many different types! On a tangent….I was looking at the DVD’s I can purchase regarding coupons and wheat and noticed they were still on the March sale. Is that sale still good or are they back to regular price? Thanks!

    Kellene · April 7, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    yup, I’m not going to increase the price until I make some changes… so my hectic world is your benefit. hee hee.

Brooke Millett · April 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm

I just went to Kmart the other day and bought my son 5 shirts and 2 pj pants for 1.99 a piece on clearance. I bought them two sizes ahead of what he is currently into for storage. I have also found at DI you can get a lot of shoes that are in good shape for a pretty reasonable price.

Brooke Millett · April 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I never thought about having extra tools, ropes, visqueen, etc.. on hand. Thanks for all your insight, your so good to come up with ideas for things that I definately need to start thinking about. I have even bought bras for my girls to grow in, one is currently not even in them, but I would rather be prepared than not!

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Karen · April 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Oh geez-I don’t even know what visqueen is!!….but I’m learning, and I’m preparing.

    Kellene · April 8, 2011 at 2:41 am

    It’s plastic sheeting that can be used as a tarp, room dividers to conserve heat, a makeshift tent (with enough of them) or even to wrap dead bodies with. The best I’ve found are nice and thick and you get two of them for only $20 at Costco. That and duct tape are invaluable IMO.

      Kimberly @ We Call Her Momma · April 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      If you’re needing a lot, Home Depot carries visqueen in 100 foot x 10′ or 20′ (I forget the width)for ~$100. It’s in a long squarish box.

        Kellene · April 11, 2011 at 5:16 am

        The Costco brand is a much heavier weave in comparison to the Home Depot brand, and besides, I’ve “blackballed” Home Depot for patriotic and religious reasons. (And no, I won’t share it with ya. If you do just a bit of internet search on Home Depot + gay marriage issue or Home Depot + flag display you’ll find it. And don’t even get me started on their Concealed Carry firearms policy.) *sigh*

Renee · April 8, 2011 at 12:56 am

Where is the link to get you DVD’s? Thank you for all your information, you bring up things i just haven’t thought about,


Pam · April 8, 2011 at 1:59 am

Hi Renee,
Click on the Preparedness Pro Education in your home at the top of the page and it will take you there. Yea for your hectic schedule!! (I mean that in the nicest way….) Can’t wait to get them! Thanks again!

Pam · April 11, 2011 at 2:11 am

What kind of face masks and gloves would be the best to purchase for radioactive dust? It looks like in Japan they are wearing simple 3M masks…..Thanks.

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