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After food and water, getting adequate shelter, hygiene and sanitation become a top priority in an emergency. The CDC has a huge section on it at their website, primarily because after a disaster occurs, more people die from dehydration, starvation and illness than did in the disaster, in most cases. Good hygiene prevents the spread of disease and can keep your family healthy. That’s why hygiene supplies are so important for your disaster preparation stock.
Even if you don’t have running water, you should have enough water on hand to provide for handwashing. Wetnaps, sanitized towelettes and hand sanitizers can be helpful, but not as good as washing hands, particularly if you’re dealing with injuries and need to insure your hands are clean. Adding a disinfectant to your water and then lathering up, rubbing the hands together long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, then rinsing and drying them with a clean towel will do the trick. You can have someone pour bottled water over your hands, particularly if no running water is available.
Washing hands before and after food preparation, before eating, after toileting or changing diapers, both before and after taking care of sick or wounded people, after touching garbage, blowing your nose or picking up animal waste. While showers won’t probably be possible, a body wash with a wash cloth and basin of warm water can do the trick.
Hygiene and sanitation also means eliminating waste and garbage from the area. In most cases, toilets will flush if you pour water in the bowl. You should use gray water—previously used water—for this task. Follow the recommendations of the jingle, “if it’s brown, flush it down and if it’s yellow, let it mellow.” If water is in short supply, find an alternative to toileting. A kitty litter bucket and some kitty litter is one option. The contents can be buried outside each day. A portable toilet is another. Some have a thick garbage bag to collect waste, while others use chemicals.
Garbage should be buried away from the house. You can burn paper products in your grill, inside cook stove or wood burning if you’re using it to cook. Trash piling up brings critters and insects, which you don’t need. It can accumulate and create a health hazard, another option you don’t need. While it’s nearly not as exciting to talk about as alternative power sources or bugging out, it’s a fact of life. People who have food, have garbage and produce waste. Create a plan to take care of both in an emergency.