What we wear says a lot about us. For example, what we wear can convey a sense of professionalism, demonstrate our sense of humor, and showcase our eye for design. However, clothing isn’t only selected based on personal expression--it can also hinder or help our ability to survive certain situations.
What we wear during and after a disaster is a lot more important than one may think. For example, it’s essential to have inner and outerwear that keeps us safe from the elements, is easy to travel in, protects us from toxins, and more. The exact clothing required for a particular emergency in your area will depend on where you live and what types of disasters you are at risk for. That’s why, in this post, I’m going to highlight characteristics of highly effective and protective clothing, from moisture wicking to UV protection.
If your area is susceptible to water-related emergencies and disasters such as floods, hurricanes, or severe storms, waterproof clothing is paramount. Wearing wet clothes for extended periods of time puts you at an increased risk for life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia, frostbite, colds, skin infections, and more.
A light-weight water-proof outer layer, such as a poncho, provides you or your family members with a first line of defense. However, the innermost layer (such as long underwear) should also be made of a moisture-wicking fabric because perspiration in cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia.
According to REI, moisture-wicking clothing “has two jobs: one is quickly moving (wicking) sweat to the fabric’s outer surface and the other is drying rapidly so that your sweat doesn’t saturate the fabric. The result is that you’re more comfortable because your body can regulate its temperature efficiently and the fabric touching your skin has a dry, non-sticky feel.” Most moisture-wicking fabrics are synthetic, since these kinds of fabrics are “hydrophobic” and resist the penetration of water. On the other hand, cotton is the worst fabric when it comes to moisture-wicking, so if you are faced with wet and damp weather, stay away from it as an option.
Cold winds and low temperatures should be considered when selecting your survival-ready wardrobe. According to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics, winter cold is a bigger killer of Americans than summer heat. The report shares that about 2,000 U.S. residents die each year from weather-related causes of death, 63% due to exposure to excessive natural cold, hypothermia, or both. To protect yourself from these dangerously cold temperatures, insulation will be key in order to retain heat in your body. Be sure to shop for a healthy supply of clothing made of wool, down, polyester fleece, or polyester fiberfill. These materials are of the highest quality when it comes to insulation.
Sun, Plant, and Insect Protection
If you find yourself stranded in the great outdoors, whether lost while hiking or running out of gas on a road trip, you’ll need to be prepared to face the elements, as well as plants, and insects. For example…
Be mindful of strong UV rays that can cause sunburns, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Seek out UV-protected clothing, such as fabrics that feature a UPF rating and absorb UV rays. Additionally, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants made of breathable fabric will protect your skin from burning.
Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to protect against mosquitos and other insects that bite or sting. Investing in a Mosquito Head Net designed to be worn over hats and other common types of headgear adds an additional layer of protection. Whether you’re stranded in the wilderness or on a planned camping trip and disaster strikes, this head net will come in handy as the ultra-fine mesh keeps mosquitoes and other insects out. Additionally, mosquitoes are attracted to darker colors such as blue and black, as well as wet clothing. Therefore, select lighter color options and, as mentioned previously, invest in moisture-wicking and water-proof clothing.
Protect yourself from exposure to poison ivy, poison oak, and other dangerous plants. Make sure you are wearing clothing that provides a barrier for your skin on your feets, legs, arms, and elsewhere. For example, long sleeves, long pants, boots, and gloves. If your clothing has been exposed to these plants, try to wash any exposed clothing separately in hot water with detergent.
Even if wildfires aren’t occuring in your immediate area, your air quality can easily be compromised. For example, in the past month, Melbourne ranked for the worst air quality in the world due to smoke from bushfires in other parts of Australia. And, when wildfires broke out in California in October of 2019, regions all over the state experienced dangerous air quality. As Vox reported, “The smoke from these fires is a serious public health concern and stands to be one of the most devastating impacts of wildfires. Millions of people, far from the burning forests and chaparral, are at risk of breathing and heart difficulties. And with more devastating wildfires on the horizon, the threat is only growing.”
Though it’s generally advisable to avoid going outside when the air quality is dangerously low quality, certain situations still require us to leave our homes. That’s when a personal air filter comes in handy. Additionally, it can be used as a windproof ski mask, motorcycle mask, dust mask and much more when not using Biogaiter for its air filtering capabilities.
Too many people neglect a critical component of survival clothing: shoes. Owning a sturdy, durable pair of shoes will ensure you don’t inhibit your ability to walk or run during an emergency. If you tend to wear heels or dress shoes to work, keep an extra pair of evacuation shoes at the office to change into when and if needed. Invest in insoles and extra shoelaces and bootlaces to keep your shoes functioning at an optimum level. Additionally, maintain your foot health with our Ready Hour Foot Soak, which can be used to relieve sore, aching, and infected feet that have taken a beating during emergency situations.
Protecting your and your family’s bodies from the risks that arise during emergency and disaster situations will increase your chance of survival. Don’t hesitate, and take the time now to assess your wardrobes, and ensure you’re minimizing your risks against extreme temperatures, toxins, insects, plants, and more.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply