Hygiene is one of the best ways in which we can keep ourselves healthy. Poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions can be extremely dangerous in an emergency situation where it can cause illness, infection, and even death. The best way to prevent an avoidable emergency is to prepare before you need it. We all buy soap, toothpaste, deodorant, etc., but let's take a look at some of the other things that you can do to prepare in the event of an emergency.
Clean water is a must in a survival situation. Not only do we need it for drinking, but we also need it for washing ourselves, cleaning wounds, and washing clothes. Having some sort of water filtration system or water purification tablets is essential to survival. Other options we have for purifying water are to use a very small amount of bleach (be sure you know how to properly use this method for water purification before using it). Sunlight is another good way to purify water. This article goes into great detail about purifying water with sunlight.
Personal care items are easy to take for granted when it comes to preparing for an emergency but one absolutely essential for personal hygiene and sanitation.
There are few alternatives in the wild, but in the event that you find yourself without any personal care items, knowing how to make your own lye soap could save your life. ( making your own soap should be done with extreme caution as it can be an extremely dangerous process). Some of the most important personal care items you should have a good supply of are:
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Shampoo & Conditioner
Feminine Hygiene products
Medication & Vitamins
Washing is one of the single most important things you can do to stay healthy. Washing your hands regularly can go a long way in preventing illness and contamination. Things you need to wash are yourself, your clothes, dishes, food, and your personal area. Always be sure to do your washing downstream of where you get your drinking water from. The last thing you want to deal with is contaminated drinking water.
Keeping Your Food Sanitary
Always keep your food covered and off the ground. A locking metal container is the best option as it will keep wild animals and insects away from your food. You can store your food in a tree as well, but be sure to check for animals that live in trees first, otherwise, your food may become compromised.
Be sure to prepare only enough food for what you will eat at that meal, this will keep waste to a minimum. Wash your dishes and cookware immediately after use to prevent the spread of germs. Wash and peel your fruits and vegetables before eating. Properly dispose of any food that has spoiled.
Disposing of Waste
You want to make sure to keep your living area as clean as possible. Dispose of any waste well away from where you eat and sleep, but not so far that it discourages you from using it regularly. Keeping your area neat and tidy will help keep wild animals that may be looking for food, away from where you are staying. You should also keep your disposal area downhill and several hundred feet away from any water sources to avoid contamination. If possible consider burying anything that is biodegradable such as food scraps. This will also help eliminate any smells that could be off-putting to you and encouraging to predators.
Makeshift Toilets and Disposing of Refuse
With a little preparation, you can create a makeshift toilet out of a 5-gallon bucket, a heavy-duty plastic bag, and a toilet seat. If you don't have access to this, you can also create a latrine by digging a trench that is one foot wide by 12-18 inches deep. Be sure to cover with dirt when you are done. Also, be sure that you are a safe distance away from any potential water source. The recommended distance is a minimum of 50 feet, but preferably around 200 feet and downhill of your water source. Human waste should always be buried to avoid the spread of disease by insects and rodents.
With a little preparation and planning, you will find that it is easy to stay clean and sanitary in any emergency situation. This is one of the most important, but often overlooked areas of preparation. Practicing good hygiene in every situation will go a long way in keeping you healthy and safe.