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Sanitation and Hygiene in the Event of an Emergency

Following an emergency, sanitation and hygiene are two aspects of survival that are frequently disregarded, with potentially devastating consequences.

Water supplies that are ordinarily safe can become polluted in an instant after a flood, tornado, earthquake, or hurricane. Overflowing septic tanks, sewage systems, and water reclamation ponds pollute wells, lakes, ponds, and streams. This pollution is exacerbated by waste and animal corpses. People do not properly dispose of human feces. Waste disposal sites, as well as fuel and oil from submerged automobiles, all contribute to pollution. Survivors are forced to wade through this deadly mess, at times literally.

Hot water is generally in short supply after a tragedy. Poor hygiene, lack of sleep, and increased stress can all weaken our immune responses and leave us more vulnerable to disease.

Many evacuation shelters have similar, if not worse, conditions. Consider the visuals we all saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to see what I mean. Hundreds or thousands of people squeezed into small spaces invite illness to spread quickly. When there is such much demand, toilet facilities and running water regularly fail. After two or three days, waste begins to pile up, and the circumstances within the shelter are frequently worse than the ones outside.

When preparing your family for a disaster, make sure to include as many goods as possible to decrease the likelihood of sickness. Drinking water and toilet paper are two items that are constantly in short supply after a disaster.

The goods listed below are only a sample of what should be included in a survival kit:

  • drinking water
  • a first aid kit that includes extra items such as Neosporin ointment, gauze rolls and extra tape
  • a box of moist towelettes, antibacterial
  • a bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer such as Purell.
  • toilet paper
  • feminine hygiene products
  • clean white towels and face cloths
  • an alcohol or gel fuel stove and a pot large enough to boil water and wash towels and clothing
  • toothpaste
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • isopropyl alcohol
It is critical to be as clean as possible in a survival situation.

Hand washing or the application of an antibacterial hand sanitizer is required on a regular basis.

When handling and preparing foods, more caution should be exercised.

When utilizing stored water, take care not to contaminate the bottle top or neck.

Extra measures should be taken in a survival situation to avoid wounds, scratches, or scrapes. Any time the skin is damaged, the wound, no matter how little, should be treated right away. Children should be properly monitored. They prefer to neglect small injuries because they are afraid of therapy more than they are about sickness. Many elderly folks neglect small wounds because they do not want to disturb anyone.

When in survival mode, it is critical for each member of the group to keep an eye out for signs of fever, rashes, insect bites, and other symptoms that they may not be aware of.


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