Sanitation and Hygiene When the SHTF

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Published: 20th January 2011
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In most disaster scenarios, sanitation is a major problem. After an earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, in a war zone, or especially during a pandemic, your area will soon be contaminated with germs and disease. That means water, food, public restrooms, really any public area is dangerous.

First, sewers and septic tanks are likely to leak or overflow into the surrounding ponds, lakes, and pipelines. Second, without garbage trucks, dead animals and trash will quickly pile up and create breeding grounds for germs. Third, most people will not dispose of their waste properly, and it will seep into waterways. Finally, oil and gasoline from damaged or submerged vehicles is likely to spread into the earth. To make matters worse, the stress of the situation is likely to weaken your immune system. So what can you do?

Ideally, you'll want to stay inside as long as possible. But if the crisis lasts for long, you're going to have to go outside eventually. Here are some supplies you should start stocking up on NOW:

* Drinking water. You'll need at least a half gallon per person per day. The more the better because you'll also need clean water to bathe yourself with. If you run out of clean drinking water, you'll have to boil whatever water you can find. A roiling boil for 10 minutes should do it. (Rain water must be boiled, too.) If you don't have room to store a lot of drinking water or don't have enough fuel to boil water everyday, I recommend buying a Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter. This will clean up to 13000 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced.

* Pampers Baby Fresh Wipes. These are great for cleaning yourself if you don't have enough clean water for bathing.

* Trash bags. You'll need somewhere to put all those dirty baby wipes. You can never have too many trash bags!

* Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Great for cleaning any surface areas that are touched often.

* Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer. Use it when you get up, after you go to the bathroom, before cooking, before you eat, basically all the time!

* Toilet paper. There's an old survivalist joke that when TSHTF, toilet paper will be worth its weight in gold.

* Paper towels. For drying off after washing yourself. Don't use the same cloth towels over and over.

* Feminine hygiene products. Self explanatory.

* Toothbrushes and toothpaste. Remember, the mouth is the dirtiest part of the body.

* Hydrogen peroxide. For treatment of minor cuts, scrapes and burns. Can also be used as a gargle or mouth rinse.

* A first aid kit with band aids, gauze, tape, and all the essentials. I recommend the American Red Cross Disaster & Emergency Kit.

Remember, the best way to prevent disease is to avoid getting one in the first place. Wash your hands!

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