Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Talk about your camp or project's LNT plans (and MOOP problems) here. Discuss cleanup tips. Ask questions or share ideas on what works and what doesn't.
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trilobyte
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Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby trilobyte » Wed May 15, 2013 5:01 pm

I recently had the pleasure to meet with the folks who run the Burning Man Lost & Found. Not just spearheading the efforts on the playa, but working tirelessly for five months after the event to help people reunite with their stuff. They asked me to pass along some helpful info that you should read through, as well as pass along to your campmates.

Playa Info wrote:Check out this great advice from your friends at Playa Info:

Every year thousands of items are lost (and found!) on the Playa. There really is no such thing as a Playa gift; what you find in the dust belongs to someone who has lost it. Besides, picking up and turning in items to Lost and Found is a leave-no-trace action.

We VOLUNTEERS at Playa Info try our best to reunite items with their owners. That is one of the service gifts Playa Info provides to Black Rock City (BRC). In 2012 we reunited 50% of the found items to their rightful owners. We returned 70% of the items with owner contact information on them. Yep. Many a happy dance was done.

There are steps you can take pre- and on-playa to help yourself and us BEFORE you lose something! The No. 1 action is to show you love your stuff by labeling it. See the great help-yourself video below:

[media]


Prevention is the best cure. While you are packing for the playa, consider putting a label or a luggage tag on anything precious, or better yet on everything! Think about the ”real estate“ area on the item. If you have a large space (big real estate) label the item with your name, phone number, email address, Facebook page and playa camp location if you are sure of it. If space is limited, label with minimum of name and phone number or e-mail address or other reliable way to contact you. Airline counters are great places to get free luggage tags.

For cameras, write up your info on a sheet of paper and take a photograph. Leave the image as the first one in your photo set, then, better yet, label the camera. We get hundreds of cameras and it takes a long time to look through each camera for your information. Take address labels with you so you can tag everything you didn't think you needed to tag. The mighty wind can whisk away the most essential items. Yes, we have had tarps, small tents, backpacks and sleeping bags all turned into Lost and Found. Label everything you want to get back!

Leave precious items at home: your childhood bike, your great-grandmother's ring, or that special item of clothing that means so much to you.

Speaking of bikes, they are the only things we don’t take at lost and found. BUT, we collect information about your lost bike throughout the week of the event. The info is sent to the bike team after the event. Better yet, simply lock your bike at all times. After your bike is stolen once, you will probably lock the next bike.

You don’t want to lose your car keys, right? Get a hide-a-key box, put you vehicle key in it and hide it on your vehicle, where you’ll remember where it is a week later. We get a lot of car keys turned in to Lost and Found--bummer huh? Lock up your wallets, passports, and airline tickets in your vehicle; hide your spare key, and party/sleep easy.

Next, check your ID! Many passports and driving licenses are mailed to the owner every year, only to be returned because the owner has moved on. Write your current address in permanent ink on your ID. For on playa travels, make a copy of your official ID and health insurance and carry it instead of the original, UNLESS you are young enough to get carded at the bars.

AT BRC, if you lose something, come on down to Lost and Found, behind Playa Info, in the Center Camp key hole and let us help you. We are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm every day. If you find an item, turn it into Lost and Found or to a roaming Playa Info Ambassador. If you lose your bike bring a description of your bike to Playa Info and you send your lost bike description to: lostbikes@burningman.com.

We also get the lost luggage from the airport. Although our primary goal is to return as much stuff on playa to the rightful owners as we can, post-playa we take all of the remaining items back to BM in San Francisco. There, a dedicated number of volunteers continue to reunite people with their lost stuff for the next five months. So, you can see that labeling you stuff is sooooooo important, to you and us. "

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Re: Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby trilobyte » Wed May 15, 2013 5:05 pm

I'll also add that this year, if you find a lost bike on the playa, Burning Man asks that you leave it where it is. We know you mean well when you take it to Center Camp or the nearest bank of porta-potties or some other seemingly central location, but please leave them in place. Burning Man will collect and catalog the bikes after the event.

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Re: Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby trilobyte » Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:05 pm

I'm giving this a bump, on behalf of the awesome folks at Lost & Found as well as all your great stuff that really doesn't want to get separated from you in the first place, if it can be avoided.

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Re: Label Your Stuff - A Message from Playa Info

Postby mooserider » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:55 pm

hmm... would a suitable gift be bringing a printer and several boxes of Avery 5877 mailing label forms, and printing up custom labels for fellow burners passing by my camp?

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Re: Label Your Stuff - A Message from Playa Info

Postby robbidobbs » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:36 pm

Sure, as long as the stickers are on a hard clean surface. A little P-touch label maker would be more durable.
Otherwise sharpie works great.

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Re: Label Your Stuff - A Message from Playa Info

Postby Eric » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:10 pm

I agree with Robbidobbs - a full blown printer set-up with get encrusted in dust and be nothing but trouble, unless you go out of your way to protect it. You also need to figure out where you're getting the power from - are you bringing a camp generator, or hoping to run it off of your RV? Remember - there is no power out there except for what you bring.

Ptouch printer would be fine, but being an interactive human is by far the best gift you can give. Just watch for when people need help, and help.
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Re: Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby trilobyte » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:30 pm

I've moved the last three posts from the years-old thread into the more recent thread on Lost & Found prevention...

It is also worth noting, particularly if you haven't been to the event before, that bringing a printer out there is probably a bad idea. Never mind that the daytime temps are way outside the range of what that equipment likes to operate at, but the dust is abrasive, and the alkali content is so strong that it's corrosive. If your gear survived the week, it would likely never be the same again.

Pre-printed labels with a Sharpie would probably do a lot better, though your mileage may vary on how well the label's adhesive would work. That depends not only on the surface and how clean it is, but how well the adhesive handles the temperature extremes.

The best recommendation I'd have is to focus your labeling efforts on your campmates. Design and make some cool tag for your group with the camp name on it, and pre-print a bunch of labels that you can give to your campmates. Leave space for them to put their name & email address, as well as the specific location you're at on the playa (for example, 7:45 & C). The name, camp name, and specific location you end up on the playa is crucial for trying to get a lost thing during the event, the email address is crucial for connecting afterwards.

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Re: Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby trilobyte » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:34 pm

Oh yeah, one more added incentive for labeling your stuff. At the Playa Info Lost & Found, they have 3 different lines.

The first one is for people to turn in found items. That's always pretty short throughout the week.

The second one is for people who are coming to look for something they've lost. As you can imagine, the line can get long by the end of the event.

The third line is an EXPRESS LINE for labeled items. That line is shorter and tends to move more quickly.

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Re: Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby some seeing eye » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:28 pm

Good info on found preparation!

Let's talk about lost prevention.

I have lost things which became moop sadly. 7 burns in!

Look at what you are carrying on your body, your pack, your bike, your MV. Is it threaded on? Consider reinforcing with locktite or teflon thread tape. Now I do. Is it clip on? My bike light fell out of the clip, hope it became groundscore rather than clean up crew MOOP. Now I rig a redundant cord to hold the light in case it bumps out of the bracket. How can the attachment fail? Supplement it!

Same applies to necklaces - redundant clasps. Hats, chin straps when windy - I chased my hat hundreds of feet.

Backpack that can hold your overgarments when dancing, so you don't have to stow them in a corner where they disappear or disappear from your memory.

If you are a virgin, there is playa brain, confused, absent, distracted, which makes it extra hard to keep track of things.

Finally, do not bring or carry anything you cannot lose. That includes intensely sentimental items or jewelry, things collected on travels that are irreplaceable - physically or psychologically, valuable documents, electronic data, expensive. If you have traveled, you know packing the things you can not loose on your body or closely attached. And have redundancy for those, like copies of identity documents.

The experience of freedom with a little preparation is more valuable than the value of having those things with you for comfort or sentiment, then losing them.

I have not experienced with BM's found department. But from the descriptions, they go way beyond most found departments.
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Re: Lost & Found prevention and preparation

Postby Strata » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:47 am

One great source of durable tags is your local large chain pet store, like PetSmart-- they usually have a pet tag engraving machine on site. My key ring has a pet tag with my name and phone number on it, as does my backpack and bike!
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