In a disaster situation, wear clothes that are comfortable, easy to get on and off, and relatively easy to clean. Wear clothes that you can leave in, if an evacuation becomes necessary. Wear sturdy shoes that can protect your feet from debris and are comfortable to walk in. You may end up having to do a lot of walking. Wear socks, they keep your feet warm and protect you from blisters.

The proper clothing for most disasters is pretty simple. You need blue jeans that are in good repair and fit comfortably and loosely. They will help protect your legs from cuts and insects. A pair of comfortable walking or cross-trainer shoes with socks that cover your ankles are the best. They keep your feet comfortable and relatively warm. Hiking boots or snow boots are also good, but they can be heavy and hard to get on and off. A long-sleeved T-shirt is the best shirt. You want to protect your arms from sun as well as from cuts and insects. If you may get cold, several t-shirts or sweaters should be worn as layers under your coat. Have several changes of underwear and socks because you need to keep these parts of your body clean and dry. Women may want to wear sanitary pads or panty liners to reduce the need for fresh underwear. Don't worry about pajamas except for the kids. Children may feel more secure if they have their favorite nightie or PJs and changing into relatively clean pajamas will help keep their bedding clean. They can put the grubby clothes back on tomorrow.

In Heat

In heat, wear light colored loose-fitting absorbent clothing. Wear long sleeves and long pants if you are working outside. You will be cooler if your skin is covered and the sweat has a way to evaporate instead of just rolling off you. Have a hat available and wear it if you are working in the sun. If you are out of the sun and well shaded, then you can wear skimpy clothing. Just remember, there is a reason you don't see desert nomads wandering around in their underwear.

In Cold

In the cold, be sure to wear shoes and socks, gloves or mittens, and something covering your neck and ears. A lot of heat is lost through the hands, feet and head. These extremities are also the most prone to frostbite which can occur in relatively warm temperatures. Wear layers of clothing. You can adjust to changing temperatures by taking off a layer or putting one on. Wear absorbent clothing next to your skin to wick away the sweat. Wear water and wind proof clothing on the outside to keep out the damp and cold.

Stay dry in cold

Try to stay dry. Water is the enemy when it comes to staying warm. Every cook knows that water transfers heat very quickly. Set a frozen package of hamburger on the counter and it will take hours to defrost. Put it in a pan of warm water and you can defrost it in minutes. If you are in the rain or snow, try to stay dry. Do not work so hard that you start to sweat. Wear an outer layer of clothing that will shed the rain. Brush the snow off before going where it is warm. If you get wet, change your clothes.


If you are standing in water, it will suck the heat out of your body the same way it defrosts hamburger. We may call it hypothermia or exposure, but the fact is you can freeze to death in 50 degree water if you are in it for hours. Freezing water can kill you in a matter of minutes. If you have to work in water, don't stay for too long at a time. Take regular breaks to dry off and warm up.

Also, you can get something similar to frostbite if you keep your feet in cold water too long. It is called trench foot, or similar names, because it was a common problem for soldiers in trenches and foxholes. Wear waders or boots and keep your clothing as dry as possible. It is a very bad sign when your feet quit hurting because they have gotten used to the cold - it means that the nerves are dying.