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Shelter - Sleeping

During your emergency, you may need to sleep somewhere other than your own comfortable bed. Having proper equipment to do so can make this experience much safer. Below are some ideas on Sleeping.

Air Mattress - This can add a lot to your comfort level as well as help you keep dry. There are several variations of air mattresses, from a simple swimming pool raft for a single person all the way up to a king size, raised air bed. One disadvantage of an air mattress is that the air inside the mattress will not insulate as well as with a foam pad, thus you can get cold. A helpful solution is to place a wool blanket between the person and the airbed.

Store the kinds that you will need and that you can support. For example, if you have no means to inflate a huge air mattress, store one that is within your ability to inflate.

Be sure to store an air mattress repair kit.

Click here for more info on Air Mattresses.

Blanket - This is a must for those who live in the snow country. Even though heat rises, you still need to put a blanket (preferably wool) between you and the ground. Hopefully there will be at least a ground cloth beneath the blanket and a tent floor beneath the ground cloth.

In very cold weather you will want to put a blanket (preferably wool) inside your sleeping bag with you.

In extremely cold weather, you may want to add one more blanket (preferably wool) over the top of the sleeping bag.

Cot - If you have the means to carry it, a cot can be very handy. It will keep you way off the ground and you should not have any rocks or roots bugging you all night long. Cots come in various sizes, even for pretty large people.

Ground Cloth - This is used to keep your sleeping bag from absorbing moisture from the ground. It can be a tarp, or a sheet of plastic. If you are sleeping where the ground cloth could be exposed to falling moisture (as in a lean-to), be  sure to tuck it in under the sleeping bag so it will not collect the falling moisture and redirect it to your sleeping bag.

Liner - There are several types of liners that you could use inside your sleeping bag:

  • Blankets - Wool, poly, cotton or rubberized all work well inside the sleeping bag.
  • Fleece -  A Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner is:
    • Durable
    • Light weight
    • Portable
    • Soft to the skin
    • Warm
    • Washable
    Click here for more on Fleece Liners.
  • Sheets - These are washable and they can keep you cool in the summer.
  • Sweatshirts - Yes, if you want to keep your sweatshirt warm and dry overnight, just throw it inside your sleeping bag and loosely wrap your feet in it.
  • Towels - See Sweatshirts above.

Mosquito Netting - If you get caught outdoors during mosquito season, this can help, especially if you need to sleep outdoors. Mosquitoes are not just a nuisance, they can be deadly. And the ones that carry West Nile Virus don't come out until after dark. This netting is lightweight, inexpensive and stores well. Get some.

To see some Mosquito Netting solutions, click these links:


Pad - There are two major kinds of foam pads for sleeping, closed-cell and open-cell foam pads.

A closed-cell pad consists of a piece of foam covered with a waterproof covering such as tough fabric, plastic or Naugahyde. This is the better pad because the foam is not as likely to get wet. Also, the foam is less likely to become soiled or to be peeled or broken off, thus becoming destroyed.

Because the foam is covered, it traps air inside in tiny pockets of foam. As your body warms those pockets of air, this has a warming effect on the sleeping system. Closed-cell foam pads tend to weigh more than their counterparts.

An open-cell foam pad consists of raw foam with no waterproof covering. It is more susceptible to becoming wet, solied or torn. Also, if a child were to wet the bed, this kind of pad would soak it all in instead of allowing it to roll off, away from the sleeping bag. One advantage is that they are lighter than closed-cell foam pads. However, they do not insulate nearly as well as a closed-cell pad.

Pump - Make sure you have the correct pump for the kind of air mattresses that you will store. If it needs batteries, store that size battery. If it needs AC power, think again because that may not be available. Some pumps have batteries that can also be charged with AC power.

Rubberized Blanket - There are rubberized blankets that are used in cribs that may have a good use for the same purpose in a sleeping bag - to keep things dry. If you use one at home, you might store one for later.

Sleeping Bag - There are store-bought and homemade versions of sleeping bags and they all can work for you. Below are some important things to look for in a Sleeping Bag:

  • Water resistant exterior - You don't want to let moisture inside the bag to where you will be sleeping.
  • Warm fill - There are poly fills that will keep you warm, but not as warm as down will. Make sure your bag is rated to at least the temperatures that you could expect during an emergency.
  • Zipper - If your bag has a zipper, make sure it is working, before you need it.
  • Sheet - It is a good idea to put a sheet inside your bag when you use it. This will help you stay cooler in summer. It will also keep the bag from becoming soiled. It is much easier to wash a sheet than it is to wash an entire sleeping bag and the drying times are extremely different.
  • For young children, consider getting washable sleeping bags.


Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center, Inc.

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