Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life in a Tent

After nearly a month since the earthquake knocked Haiti to its knees, there are still thousands of refugees struggling to stay alive from day to day. Miraculously, a survivor was pulled from the ruins of a grocery store yesterday, having spent 28 days buried in the rubble. Luck was with him, because when it all came crashing down, he was in a place stocked with food and water.

The devastation was so great that it left hundreds of thousands without shelter. People were living among the crumbled ruins, without protection from the weather. The call eventually went out for tents to be sent to the island, and those have started to trickle in. Even though the survivors have lost all their worldly goods, even something as simple as a tent is an enormous blessing.

The lesson in all this for us is this: As you work on your own emergency preparedness program, one of the top priorities is a contingency shelter to use if your home is destroyed or you have to leave the area during an evacuation. The tent doesn't have to be elaborate or expedition quality, but it does need to shelter you from rain and wind and harsh sunshine. Bug screens are important for ventilation while keeping the critters out. A waterproof floor is paramount.

Taking care of your tent is important, to prevent damage that can compromise its ability to provide adequate shelter. Here are some tips:

  • Before erecting the tent, clear away anything on the ground that might damage the floor. 
  • If the ground is rocky, consider spreading soft dirt and leafy material to cushion the floor from the rocks that can damage the fabric. 
  • Consider spreading a tough plastic tarp over the ground for added protection, and then set up the tent on the tarp. 
  • To keep from wearing holes in the floor, remove shoes or boots before entering. 
  • Use a small whisk broom for sweeping out dirt, bugs and leaves that sneak inside. 
  • Operate the door and window zippers slowly to prevent damage to the bug screens. 
  • Air the tent out and all it to dry before storing.

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