This is an entry in our current non-fiction writing contest By Lake Lili
I interrupt your garden planning to bring you this special bulletin… As we begin out prepping journeys that we always talk of beans and bullets. But as the basic needs are fulfilled, we need to expand our acquisitions to daily items used without thought. In this case I am talking about beds and linens. My concern is that come the evening of the day the SHTF, we are going to collapse in exhaustion and what you lay your body down on might suddenly become vastly important.
For most of us, our beds are made up of a headboard, bed frame, box spring, mattress, pillows, linens, blankets and quilts. In the days to come, how easily replaceable are they going to be? Hay ticks and goose down toppers have served for thousands of years, but do you have the raw materials and skills to make them? Many of us have camped but long term, as we age, sleeping on the ground just plain hurts.
So let’s look at the bed in closer detail. For each bed in your house you need to have, hardware-wise a headboard, frame, box spring, and mattress. Headboards are good for protecting walls, cutting drafts, and warmth against outside walls – but they are easily made with plywood and paint or covered in quilt batting and two sheets. (One to stretch over the batting and the second to act like a slip cover that can be taken off and washed as it gets dirty.)
I will be the first to admit that I love my mattress, but its 15 years old and needs to be replaced. So on the list of items that need to be acquired is a new one. The old one will get stored for guests. There are lots of tips online about buying mattresses but the best one I ever heard was take you time. Go and lie on them for 15 or 20 minutes. Wear sweats and roll over. Take your spouse so you can make sure you are both comfortable. As you are rolling around, make notes about comfort, smell… is it off-gassing? Some foam does. Don’t buy one that is really firm with the expectation that it will soften over time. There is nothing to be gained by several years of discomfort. If you and your spouse have different needs then buy twin mattresses that suit each of you and a queen box spring. Cover it then in a queen topper and mattress pad and linens. The bed will act then as a queen but you will each be comfortable.
I have always had a metal frame that the headboard was screwed to. They are cheap and easy to store several. When you use a metal bedframe, you need to have the box spring in order for the mattress to be properly supported and at the right height. There are also older beds with wood rails and wood slats – pop in the plywood base and throw the mattress on top and you are good to go. There are also rope beds, where the rope is strung between the rails. The Country Bed Shop has an excellent page on the stringing of rope beds (http://www.countrybed.com/ancillary_pages/reference/Rope.shtml). YouTube also has several excellent videos of the process.
Many frames currently allow for the frame to be moved. Making use of hospital technology, many people have found them to be of real assistance in getting a good night’s sleep. The problem though is that if they don’t have a manual feature then it is yet another dead appliance after an EMP or grid failue.
Regardless of how you choose to support the mattress, the mattress itself needs to be turned over quarterly and rotated in order to even out the wear. As long as you are able, you should try to vacuum it weekly to keep down dust and mites. Once the S has HTF, you might want to consider taking it outside and beating it several times a year.
In the last decade, mattress toppers have once again become popular. They are ideal for softening a firm mattress. They are not great for small children and often people who move about a lot at night find that they make the body work much harder to turn over. They are a matter of choice but can add greatly to the expense.
Over top of the mattress should go the mattress pad. Again this is to protect the mattress. For very young children, the elderly or people with medical concerns, a rubber sheet should also be put down. I buy mattress pads that have a rubberized backing to them that protects against spills and accidents. They are also ideal to help absorb sweat when it gets really hot out. I wash these weekly with the rest of the linens.
Then there is the matter of pillow – and we all have our favorites and our favorite configuration that gives us the best sleep. Pillows come in a variety of material and stuffed with any one of a dozen materials – feathers, hard or soft foam, millet or lavender. They should be covered in a pillow protector which should be washed with the rest of the linens. We have all seen what pillows look like when they are not covered by protectors (yuck!) and as our ability to easily replace items like this vanishes, the adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure should be taken to heart.
When it comes to the linens, people talk in fancy terms about all sorts of weaves, and percentages of fabric types. Cotton is a dream. Linen will wear like iron, but you have to iron it too. Cotton/poly blends will last forever. Flannel warms like nothing else. Moreover it can have a softness that is a balm to the spirit as you ease your aching bones onto your bed. The process of weaving the lengths of fabric needed to cover your queen or king bed is mind-numbing in its complexity (grow the materials, card and spin the thread, weave the thread) and in the PAW, the cost in time and materials may well be beyond your means. Eventually sheets off a floor loom will become the only means of replacement, but how many weavers do you know and even today can your currently afford their products. Will you be willing to trade your milk cow for new sheets?
So you’ve got the bed, and it’s made up with your linens, you now have to get to the warm snugglies. No, I am not going to address who you sleep with – male, female, stuffies or puppies. Except to say that if your dog sleeps with you, you might want to break that habit because as much as we love our dogs, they are hard on the linens.
Regardless of whether you love blankets or duvets, this is a part of your bed that requires as much attention as the parts that went before. If you live in Alaska you might want heavier warmer blankets than is you live in Georgia – although if winters like this one continue to happen, there might not be as much difference as we all like to believe. Blanket come in wool, fleece, cotton and a host of other materials. Usually they are used as a pair, with the layer of air between acting as part of the warming system. They should be covered with a cotton duster (my mother’s were always seersucker) that helps to keep the blankets clean.
Duvets come in in a cotton or poly/cotton casing with anything from foam to cotton batting to feathers on the inside. The man-made fibers tend to come with promises of being hypoallergenic. Be that as it may, they key to the man-made fibers is that they are easy to clean and dry, quickly. All you ever need to do once is get goose down wet… not an experience to repeat. Duvets are best slid inside covers, again to help keep them clean.
I am now going to touch on my favorite part of a bed. Quilts! I love them. Even the really garish 1970s versions with questionable materials… A couple of them piled on any bed warms the soul as well as the body. For a while they got really expensive but you can now find them again. They are not hugely difficult to make, especially crazy quilts that have no pattern and if you tie them instead of quilting them properly, they don’t have to take a lot of time. I have several that I made by sandwiching space blankets and cotton batting between layers of flannel. They are a treat to keep in the truck for cold drives.
Linens, blankets, duvets and quits can all be picked up fairly inexpensively at yard sales, thrift shops, estate sales and Walmart or Sears. The key is to get them and put them away. We wash then and then store ours inside green garbage bags, with a handful of moth balls and then put in old steamer trunks. Currently, we have five sets for every bed. My goal is to have a dozen. Now back to garden planning.
Prizes for this round (ends May 24 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain millcourtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and Three Survival Seed Vaults courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Second place winner will receive – Brand New, Sealed Case of Military MREs (Meal, Ready-To-Eat) a $119 value courtesy ofCampingsurvival.com and a Survival Puck courtesy of Innovation Industries.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net and a copy Herbal Antivirals and Herbal Antibiotics .
- The Prepper's Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How
- The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook: Over 170 Pages of Food Storage Tips, and Recipes From Preppers All Over America!
- Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man's Solution
- 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness