The best preparedness blogs out there
The Importance of Basic Sanitation
By Prepper Helper
Put large groups of people in a small area and you have the perfect recipe for disease. Throughout history the militaries of the world have lost as many soldiers to disease, from poor sanitation, as to the enemy.
In terms of deaths due to disease, the Mexican War (1846-48) was the deadliest of all American wars. Nearly 13% of the entire U.S. force perished from disease. Of the total 12,535 war deaths, 10,986 (88%) were due to infectious diseases (overwhelmingly dysentery, both bacterial and amoebic);seven men died from disease for everyone man killed by Mexican musket balls.Camp pollution was the greatest error committed by U.S. troops in the Mexican War. The indifference of line officers and recruits to the need for proper sanitation and military hygiene fueled the dysentery outbreaks, and the poor conditions in military hospitals contributed further to the spread of disease. This defect in military culture undermined the health of the army and led to medical disaster. Disease caused an enormous drain on the U.S. Army’s resources, eroded troop morale, and influenced strategy and tactics. As we enter the 21st century, dysentery is still a major public health threat, killing hundreds of thousands of people annually-primarily children in developing countries where personal hygiene is poor and disposal of human and animal wastes is indiscriminate.PMID: 19684375 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Most of us are fortunate to live in developed countries. We have clean running water, good sanitation, sewage systems, and education for the general public of personal hygiene. Even though most of us are used to using good hygiene, when we suddenly find ourselves trying to survive we have a tendency to forget the basics and that can get us into a lot of trouble. As I will always suggest, good planning will help to eliminate this issue as well as others. Good forethought will allow you to have in place alternatives to conventional sanitation and hygiene.
The number one thing to remember is good hand washing. I was taught from a very early age, as were most of us, to wash our hands before meals, when we came in from playing, before we handled food, and when our hands just got dirty for any reason. This is the first thing that we need to keep in mind. As a nurse, I am used to washing my hands a lot. Hospitals monitor their employees regularly as well as the physicians that come and go. Infections spread so very quickly from just one person forgetting to wash between patients. The same holds true for us. You suddenly find yourself out of your normal surroundings, away from running water, a regular toilet, or even a bathtub or shower. Basic hand washing throughout the day will help to keep you and your family healthy.
My recommendation is to always have a few essential items on hand, pun intended:
Hand sanitizer is the first line of defense. It is cheap and you can find it everywhere in small bottles. I have them in my BOB, my car, my wife’s purse, and around the house. I also have large gallon jugs of sanitizer in storage for long term use.
Baby wipes is next on the list.
I have them in small 10 wipe packs everywhere as well. They serve many purposes. First, they clean well without having to use your precious water, and it is precious. Second, they are antibacterial and help to kill many of the common germs that find their way onto our hands. Third, they do not dry out your hands, they actually moisturize them. This is important. Why, you might ask. When your hands dry out, the skin cracks and allows for more surface area to harbor and breed bacteria. Besides that, it is just uncomfortable. I also use the baby wipes to occasionally wipe my face. Most of us do not realize just how often we touch our face with our hands. Each time we do we are transferring whatever is on our face to our hands and we are back to where we started. Baby wipes can also be used for a sponge bath, no water needed, and they leave you smelling nice, which is an added bonus.
Last, but not least, regular soap and water:
If you have a plentiful water supply this is the best and most worthwhile option. An important thing to remember is to make sure that you are not washing in your water supply. Take the water away from the supply so that you do not contaminate it. Also wash somewhere that is downhill from you supply, avoiding run off back into your supply. When you are storing soap, remove the outer wrapper and let it dry. This will increase the life of your soap tremendously.
Sanitation is the next topic. Having a way of disposing of your wastes is very important. As the militaries of the world learned, you do not put your latrine close to your living quarters or your water supply.
If you are in a temporary location, having a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it, lined with two garbage bags, makes a good latrine. This is a security reserve if the inner bag tears. You can seal the bag with a knot and bury it away from your camp, at least 200 yards and away from water run-off. It also keeps you from having the intolerable smell lingering. Having toilet paper and or Baby wipes is also a good idea. When you reach your permanent BOL, you can either dig a larger latrine or continue to use your bucket. Planning ahead is a good idea. I have two of these buckets and cases of different sized garbage bags just for this purpose.
Take the center cardboard out of the roll of toilet paper and put the rollinto a quart-sized Ziploc bag. Then pull from the center of the roll, like you would with Kleenex, and you can seal the bag and keep the paper clean. This also prevents the roll from rolling away from you.
Lastly, something that a lot of people forget about:
You have some food that you have prepared or partially eaten. How are you going to preserve it, even for a short time? You need to have all sizes of Ziploc bags. I have snack, sandwich, quart, and gallon.
Anytime I have food that I need to save I have a way of sealing it. It also keeps the different foods away from each other to avoid cross contamination.
This is by no means everything that is needed or can be planned for. This is a good start and we will offer more options later for more advanced Preppers. I hope that this stirs some thought and offers suggestions that will help you to prepare.
Plan, plan, plan, then plan again, then have 10 contingencies for your plans.
Please visit Prepper Helper here