Its seems simple, but it’s one of the biggest parts of sanitation. We pick up bacteria/viruses on our hands from all sorts of places and the danger is that those bacteria or viruses are so easily transferred to mucous membranes when we eat, when we wipe our eyes or itch our nose. Hands are the main vector for diseases to get hold of us.
In modern day we have a lot of safeguards and practices that help reduce our exposure to diseases, but in a SHTF scenario, disease will be more prevalent and we might see a resurgence of diseases our society hasn’t seen in a long time. If there is a biological attack, we will obviously need to be more careful. The point I’m making here is that we will need to be more guarded against diseases in a disaster.
Poor hand sanitation can lead to dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and other complications that can have a major impact on your quality of life and your ability to survive in a disaster. It is very common for outbreaks of cholera and other similar diseases to break out in disaster struck areas, so make sure you have a plan to stay clean!
Setting Up A Wash Station
So how should you prep for good hand washing sanitation? First you’ll need a few items:
- Soap – a standard 7-ounce bottle of soap yield 125 pumps
- Mini hotel soap bars
- Clean water – about 16 ounces per wash
- Disposable paper towels – about 44 towels per roll
- Reusable towels – have several and change often, clean with some bleach
- Some sort of basin
- Water dispenser with a slow to drain spout
As you can see that for about $10-25 you can have a fully kitted out hand washing station that will last a single person for a good while and a family for a week or so. My suggestion is to have multiple stations, one for each bathroom, one for the kitchen and one for the main entry.
In most cases you want to dry your hands with a standard hand towel, but the requires you to regularly clean them, so have a plan to rotate and wash. To make it easier, I’d have several sets of hand towel for each station so you only have to wash them once a week.
Single Use Stations In Pandemics
I’ve included mini hotel soap bars (Amazon sells 100 packs for $20) and paper towels because there are times when it may be more convenient or, and this is more important, you have someone that may have come into contact with a serious source of disease.
If for example someone had to venture out away from your bug out location for some reason and there may be a plague or biological concern, you don’t want them using the towel everyone else uses. This is particularly a concern during biological attacks.
In these specific and very critical situation before someone enters your homestead or is placed into isolation for an incubation period. Instead set up a temporary station where they sanitize themselves with a single use bar of soap and hand dry with the paper towels. The Entire setup then can be burned in a fire made before they approach so that you don’t have to worry about possible contamination.
Food Prep Areas
The areas that you store, prepare and cook food is particularly prone area that bad hygiene will have an easy vector into your body. Pretty much everything we do in these areas will cross contaminate into each other just by the nature of the cooking and eating process. While it is true that most bacteria and viruses will be killed when cooked, there are some things that we might just need to warm or serve raw. A can of soup is typically not brought to a roiling boil, a salad isn’t cooked at all.
If we don’t manage vectors for disease we might stir that soup with a bacteria laden spoon or chop that salad on a cutting board that we had previous cut up chicken and now has salmonella. With this in mind, we need to develop protocols to disinfect our surfaces, our utensils, our dishes, pans and storage areas.
Hygiene Impacts Security
A fighting force is only as good as it’s weakest link, but if some or all of your group is sick your effectiveness is drastically reduced. Food borne illnesses often lead to digestive and GI illnesses. These can lead to diarrhea and dehydration, plus open people up to other secondary infections more easily.
Your best fighters, your strongest people and critical leaders all can become sick without some really basics or hand washing. If the people in your group are sick, that means less people able to patrol your area, to stand guard and protect your home in necessary. So consider how your hygiene can support your security efforts so you maintain a secure perimeter.
Whatever you decided to do, make plans on how you are going to keep hands very clean and prevent diseases from taking hold. We often focus on what the best gear to have is, the potential of attackers trying to take our preps with guns and how we store food to feed ourselves, but the truth is you’ll be under attack from microscopic attackers that are vying to make you sick every day.
Good hygiene starts with the simple act of hand washing, but it’s impact can’t be understated. This simple challenge is a simple one to solve, requiring little equipment that is very affordable. So make sure you take the time to set back some supplies and make a plan for when things go bad, so that you and your loved ones can stay happy and healthy.