Good sanitation practices always make sense. However, in an emergency situation, it can make the difference between sickness and health, and possibly even life and death.
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Hygiene And Sanitation During an Emergency
Keith Thomas 00:00
Welcome to typical prepping the podcast dedicated to everyday readiness and disaster preparedness. We're here to help those folks who seek to start their own disaster preparedness plan or those who have gotten started but are not quite sure where or how to take the next steps. Each week I'll present a disaster preparedness topic with actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to start or grow your personal disaster preparations. Thanks for stopping by to listen today. Hey folks, I'm Keith, and welcome to typical prepping. In this episode, our topic is hygiene and sanitation. This topic seems to get very little attention, but it's very important and is a key player in our survival especially in a long-term survival situation. Personal hygiene is important to keep us healthy and alive in a situation where there may be little or no medical help available. Sanitation and its disposal is equally important, as many civilized areas have succumbed to the threat of disease through poor sanitation practices during a disaster. According to the CDC, approximately 88% of deaths due to diarrheal illness worldwide, are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. These illnesses include diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid fever. The best example of this scenario playing out in modern times is the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Weeks after the disasterous earthquake, Haiti began to suffer a horrific cholera outbreak. Nearly 800,000 Haitians had been infected by cholera, and more than 9000 had died due to poor sanitation practices, leaving water supplies contaminated. So how can we protect ourselves and our families from this type of outbreak? Well, let's start by looking at some of the personal hygiene and sanitation supplies that we'll need. In most cases, you can purchase your favorite brand of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, deodorant, and other items in bulk, or in those extra saving packages, so you can afford to set some aside for your emergency kit. Since we never know how long an emergency will last, we'll talk about the items we need to stock up on. And in some cases, we'll give you some alternatives that you can use. Any kind of toilet paper is a luxury when it comes to emergency situations. It's possible to stockpile a quantity of toilet paper for emergencies, especially if you can find it on sale or if you're one of those coupon gurus who have coupons, and can get free packages of toilet paper, the buy one get one free or whatever the case is. Another alternative to toilet paper is that you could keep a supply of eight-inch by eight-inch flannel or cotton squares to be washed and reused. The cloth you use should be absorbent but dry quickly. I know this sounds disgusting. But should your disaster become long term a little adaption will be required. Now, these squares can be washed in a disinfectant and hung out to dry for reuse. They are a much nicer option to newspaper leaves or corncobs. You may also consider purchasing some peri-wash cleansing bottles. These can be used to spray off much like using a bidet only portable. Should you choose to take this route, you should stock one bottle for each member of your family. This would definitely help to extend your toilet paper supply. Baby wipes are yet another alternative that can be purchased in bulk and they store well. If they do begin to dry out, you just need to add a little bit of water to the package and that will refresh them. Baby Wipes can also be a good alternative for general cleaning when running water is not available. In order to keep clean, you'll need soap. Bar soap is inexpensive and can usually be found on sale and in large packages, which makes it easier to stockpile. If you decide to go this route, you need to make sure you have enough for one bar per family member. And these can be kept and those travel soap keepers. And this helps to reinforce the idea of not spreading germs from one person to the other. Liquid soap is also an option. However, you'll need to do a bit of testing to discover how long a bottle of liquid soap will last, and whether each family member gets their own bottle or uses one bottle for the entire family. An easy way to test how long a bottle of liquid soap will last is, when you set it out, write the date on it in a permanent marker somewhere on the bottle. Once it's empty, and make sure everybody knows that once it's empty, to come and let you know that it's empty. Now you know what date it started. And the date that it ended. You know approximately how long that particular bottle lasted you or your family or our however you decide to divvy up the bottles of liquid soap. It may also be beneficial to learn how to make lye soap from ashes in the event that the emergency lasts longer than you anticipate. Hand sanitizers have their place and can be beneficial. However, remember, hand sanitizer may kill germs, but do relatively little for cleaning off dirt and grime. Also, since hand sanitizer is usually made with high alcohol content, it may cause your hands to dry out. A disaster is a horrible time for a toothache. So thoroughly brushing teeth with just water is actually highly effective. Baking soda and water can substitute for toothpaste in a pinch, or even dip in a wet toothbrush in kosher salt will work. And again toothpaste can also be bought in those large value packs. So something else to think about when you go to the grocery and you find those on sale toothbrushes as well. Along with conditioner shampoo is nice to have the actual usage depends on the person and the quality of the shampoo. Again, you can write the date on the bottle to discover how long a bottle of shampoo will last you and give you an idea of how much you need to stockpile. Bathing in handwashing is essential to your survival in a disaster situation. You can prevent illness by washing your hands often, before eating, after using the bathroom, after you change a diaper, and any other time you may need to freshen up. Because water is such a precious commodity during an emergency, you should remember to use purified drinking water first for drinking, cooking, washing dishes, And then for other purposes. Be organized and choose a designated bathing area. If you wash in a river or stream, use biodegradable soap, and always be aware of others who may be downstream. With a little soap, You can also wash in the rain. Other washing alternatives include moist towelettes, a spray bottle, sanitizing lotions, or a wet washcloth. And be sure to wear shoes to prevent parasitic infections and to protect yourself from cuts and puncture wounds that can easily become infected. One alternative may be to set up an outside shower, and this can be done using a wood pallet and a large tarp or maybe even two tarps to tarp off the area so that you have some privacy. Then you can use the gravity showers that you can buy most sporting goods stores to take camping. You hang them up in the sun, it warms the water that you fill the bladder with, and then it has its own little spray nozzle to spray yourself off with. Alternatively, you can buy a garden sprayer, the tank type that you pressurize, fill it with water, set it out in the sun, let it warm and use the spray nozzle that comes with it to spray yourself off and you have a makeshift shower. In an emergency. Do not stop doing your laundry. Alternatives to a washing machine are the bucket and plunger method. It's pretty effective. dirty clothes and water and detergent are placed in a bucket with a hole cut in the lid, and this hole is to accommodate the plunger. The plunger is used to agitate the clothes. A quality toilet plunger with a few holes drilled in the top of the base will work fine. But a commercially designed model works even better. It has internal baffles that pull in water through the clothes to flush out dirt. Other popular laundry plungers are the breathing hand-washer and washer plunger. For an alternative clothes dryer, the old-fashioned clothesline is an effective way to dry laundry. Exposing the clothes to UV rays of the sunlight may fade the fabric but it will help to disinfect the laundry. If you're using diapers, reusable toilet paper, or anything which may have retained germs, leave it out a little longer to help disinfect the cloth. Clothes can also be dried indoors. Be sure to ventilate when drying clothes to decrease drying time and prevent moisture from building up. And indoor drying racks come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they make drying more convenient and take up little space. However, clothes can be dried by hanging over doors and chairs. And now we get into the yucky part of disposal of human waste. With a little preparation, you can make a decent emergency toilet. If you have a medium-sized plastic bucket, five or six-gallon, lined with a heavy-duty garbage bag, you have a toilet. Make sure that you have a lid to cover it. A plastic toilet seat can be purchased to fit on the bucket for a more comfortable seat. If you don't have an extra plastic bucket available, you can make a latrine by digging a long trench approximately one foot wide and 12 to 18 inches deep. And then cover it as you go. When you dig too deep a latrine it can slow down the bacterial breakdown process. The long latrine approach is appropriate for large groups camping in one spot for a long period of time. Alternatively, you can drain the water from the toilet, your existing toilet bowl. Line that toilet bowl with a plastic garbage bag. Tape the edges down around the outside of the toilet with duct tape, put the seat down and you have a toilet ready to go. When you're finished, you'll just take the plastic bag out and dispose of it with the rest of your waste, which we'll talk about in a minute. If your wastewater is hooked to a central sewage system, do not run water or flush your toilets. Also, keep an eye out for backup from the sewage system. Because there are probably people out there who don't know that you can't continue to use the toilet or your sinks for flushing water out if the power's out there is no way to pump the sewage lines. However, if you are on a septic system, a septic system is those that catches the solid waste in a large concrete container out back buried in the backyard and then leeches any water out into a lateral field also in your backyard. If you have a septic system, you can continue to use your sinks and toilets. You'll need to carry water for flushing the toilets. You can fill your sinks with water for washing and then let it drain into your septic system and gravity flow out into the lateral field as you normally would. The only difference is you don't have, you may not have running water. Alright, keep in mind, feces are a dangerous substance and can spread deadly diseases. Urine, however, is generally safe. When possible, separate urine from feces to reduce the amount of hazardous material. If you're using a bucket toilet, consider having one for urine and the other for feces. Now each person generates approximately five gallons of human waste each week. This waste if not managed properly, becomes a source of odor, illness, disease, and other problems. Never throw human waste on the open ground. If no other alternative is available, burying it in deep trenches and cover it with at least two to three feet of soil. Make sure to avoid burying raw human waste where there's a high water table. It can contaminate the water supply and spread disease. If you're disposing of solid waste, and this would, this time we're talking about your normal garbage. We only need to look at the garbage cans of our neighbors or perhaps our own to realize most of us generate a significant amount of waste. What do you do if your faithful garbage man doesn't come for weeks or possibly even months. Some types of disasters could easily disrupt this service. Garbage is a prime breeding ground for bacteria, insects, and rodents, and it also attracts other unwanted pests. Develop a backup plan, In the event that you have to hold on to your garbage for a while. Your plan may include some or all of the following strategies. Separate waste to reduce contaminating all of it, separate cans, glass, and plastic from other burnable items and wet garbage. Wet garbage breeds bacteria and draws insects and animals. Mixing the garbage contaminates all of it. Reduce bulk by smashing cans, flattening boxes, and compacting whenever possible. Store lots of quality garbage bags and cans or barrels with tight-fitting lids have many uses and might come in handy for storing garbage burnable trash may be a valuable resource. Burning may not be preferred due to safety and environmental concerns but may become necessary. Cereal boxes, paper plates, cardboard, etc. may all be used to fuel small fires for cooking. Cooled ashes can be added to a compost pit or used to control odors and germs in an outhouse. Use great caution when burning anything to ensure the safety of people and property. Burn trash in appropriate conditions and locations and do not burn plastic, styrofoam, or other items that release toxins when burned. Store real paper plates instead of Styrofoam. Real paper plates can be burned. And it helps to reduce the amount of garbage that you have to deal with. Burying garbage may be required as a result of a prolonged crisis. If this becomes necessary, bury garbage as far away from your home as possible and be mindful of high water tables. Dig a hole at least four feet deep cover with at least 18 inches of soil to prevent insect and animal infestation. And you may want to dig the hole and cover it was a large piece of plywood to allow additional garbage to be added as needed. Weigh the plywood down with large rocks or heavy objects to prevent animals from accessing it. Layering the garbage was soil ashes, lime or borax can help control the odor. Sharing your space or provisions with insects and disease-spreading rodents can make a bad situation worse. Your precious supplies can be quickly contaminated if these pests are not controlled. Insect control is a priority, prevent breeding grounds by keeping the area clean, separate garbage, and store it away from the living area. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which are known carriers for the spread of diseases. Carefully package all food storage to prevent infestation. Use care to prevent bedding from being contaminated through poor personal sanitation. Do not stop doing laundry. The old saying "good night sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" was adopted for a reason. Store insect repellent and insecticides safely and away from foods. Fly control is a must. Flies are not only highly annoying but spread disease rapidly. Keep the area free from animal feces, garbage, and waste products. Keep lids tightly closed on garbage cans. Cover food and clean dishes to prevent contamination by flies. Store fly swatters, fly strips, fly traps, etc. for use as needed. Rodent control can be a bit challenging. Keep storage areas clean and organized store traps, bait stations, and poisons. However, use great caution to prevent accidental poisoning or secondary poisoning. Secondary poisoning can occur when another animal eats a poisoned Rodent. Take time to package food storage to prevent infestation. Rodents can quickly access food stored in Mylar bags. Consider putting Mylar bags or packages of food inside plastic buckets for an additional layer of protection. Even better, storing food in number 10 cans is a great way to protect the contents. Good sanitation practices always make sense. However, in an emergency situation, it can make the difference between sickness and health and possibly even life and death. Think about how you're going to wash your hands, shower, manage human waste, dispose of garbage, clean laundry, and control unwanted pests. You can do this with a little effort and planning. Well, folks, that's gonna do it for this week. 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