Many of us are diligent in storing food and water for emergency use, but tend to forget to store items we use every day to stay clean and healthy. Many of these items would become luxuries during an emergency while others can help prevent contamination and illness. Start by making two lists of non-food items. First, list the items you definitely will use. Second, list the ones you may also need to help keep your surroundings clean. Begin with the first list and add those items to your home storage as soon as you can. Then, progress to the second list. Plan to rotate your supplies so that they stay fresh and do not lose their usefulness.
Here is a list of items you may want to consider storing. This list is not all-inclusive, so feel free to add to it. For all these items, track how much of each your family uses (if they use it) so you how much to store. An easy way to do this is to keep track of use for a week or month, then multiple it by how many weeks’- or months’-worth you plan to store.
- Toilet paper
- Bath soap
- Liquid dish soap
- laundry soap
- Toilet cleaner
- Liquid bleach
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes(consider storing some emergency toothbrushes that come with their own built-in toothpaste)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Plastic bags(garbage-sized and smaller)
- Paper towels
- Powdered cleanser such as Comet or Ajax
- Baking soda
- Glass cleaner
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hand lotion
- Razors, blades, and shaving cream
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby products—diapers, wipes, bottles, etc.
- SPF lotion or wipes (consider our "SunX SPF 30+ Towelettes")
- Cleansing facial and body wipes (consider our "Ready Bath Basics Antibacterial Formula Total Body Cleansing System")
- Emergency shower equipment (consider our "Zodi Extreme Portable Hot Shower," which Heats to over 100º F in about 5 minutes)
For a great emergency (or camping) kit that supplies the basics for three to four people for several days, consider our "Family Sanitation Kit," which includes one six-gallon bucket, one Tote-able Toilet seat and lid, four rolls of toilet paper, six Double Doodie™ Waste Bags, one Epi-Cleanz® Plus Hand Antiseptic, four Fresh and Go™ toothbrushes and three ReadyBath® packets.
Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer before eating, after using the bathroom, after you change a diaper, and any other time you may need to freshen up can be especially important in an emergency. Because water is such a precious commodity during an emergency, you should remember to use purified drinking water first for drinking, cooking, and washing dishes before anything else.
Be organized and choose a designated bathing area. If you wash in a river or stream, use biodegradable soap and always be aware of others who may be downstream. With a little soap you can also wash yourself in the rain. Other washing alternatives include moist towelettes, a spray bottle, sanitizing lotions, or a wet washcloth. These alternatives can help you save precious water.
Choosing the right location for your sanitation needs such as bathing and using the bathroom is as important as staying clean. Your waste place must be located downhill from any usable water source. It should also be a few hundred feet from any river, stream, or lake. It also helps to have your waste place downwind from your living area, and yet not too far from your camp that the distance discourages people from using it. If you’re at home, but without running water or power, you can reuse bathing water to flush the toilet. Just make sure the toilet doesn’t get backed up. You might also consider using an emergency toilet at home.
Getting Rid of Refuse
If you can’t dispose of refuse properly, you should always bury biodegradable garbage and human waste to avoid the spread of disease by rats and insects. Dig a pit 12 to 18 inches deep and at least 50 feet but preferably 200 plus feet downhill and away from any well, spring, or water supply. Fill the pit with the refuse and cover with dirt.
Keeping Food Sanitary
All food scraps should be either burned or buried in a pit far from your living area to keep wild animals away. If outdoors, keep all food covered and off the ground. You may keep your food in a tree, but be sure tree dwelling creatures can’t get into it. Replace all lids on water bottles and other containers immediately after use. Don’t wash your dishes in the area where you get your drinking water supply. Instead, wash your dishes away from a water source. Use clean plates or eat out of the original food containers to prevent the spread of germs. Wash and peel all fruits and vegetables before eating. Prepare only as much as will be eaten at each meal.
For people who take prescription medications for heart disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, or any other condition that requires regular medication, you should talk to your physician about having a back-up supply on hand for emergencies. Medications for diarrhea, constipation, headaches, allergy and other minor conditions should also be included in kits for added comfort.
By storing extra supplies and knowing how to stay clean and sanitary in an emergency, you can stay healthier and more comfortable.