Among all the various things that are needed to prepare for a disaster, it’s easy to overlook the need for personal hygiene. Yet, personal hygiene is necessary for maintaining health as sickness and disease often follow filth. Even worse, one of the greatest spreaders of disease is human waste. Improper care of this waste can cause severe health problems.
Taking care of these things really isn’t all that hard even in a crisis, although it does require learning how to do things in different ways. More than anything, it requires cleaning in ways that require minimal water usage because you probably won’t have any to waste.
The average American uses somewhere over 100 gallons of water per day. Would you still use that much water if you had to haul it from the river? Of course not. Yet, if the city water is down and you don’t have a well at home, you could find yourself hauling every gallon of water that you use.
• Stockpile Now. Don’t forget to stockpile personal hygiene supplies, along with the food and other supplies that you are collecting. A few extra tubes of toothpaste and some extra shampoo will last for quite a while. The big problem will be toilet paper, which you family probably goes through a lot of. Stocking enough toilet paper to see you through a disaster can take up a lot of room. Don’t forget feminine hygiene supplies either, unless you want some very unhappy women in your home.
• Be Sure to Keep Your Hands Clean. The most important part of your body to keep clean is your hands. There’s a very good reason why it’s habit to wash before eating. Your hands come in contact with everything, increasing the chance of them picking up bacteria that could get into your body when you eat. In an effort to save water, don’t use a basin to wash your hands in. If you do, you’ll just be passing bacteria from one family member to another. You’ll need to use running water, even though you don’t need a lot of it.
• Antibacterial Hand Cleaner. One of the greatest personal hygiene supplies that has ever been invented is antibacterial hand cleaner. This provides a waterless way of cleaning your hands, specifically making sure that you don’t have any bacteria on them. While it won’t do much for getting rid of mud, it will make your hands biologically clean and safe.
• Bathing with Minimal Water. The average shower uses 3 to 5 gallons of water per minute, and the average bath uses 30 to 40 gallons. However, you can bathe very effectively out of a bucket, using a small plastic container to scoop up water and pouring it over yourself. This is still common today in many third-world and emerging countries. With this method, you can actually bathe effectively with less than a gallon of water.
• Don’t Wash Your Hair so Often. Most of us are used to washing our hair daily. Of everything involved in personal hygiene, washing the hair uses the most water, especially if it’s long. However, we really don’t need to do so all that often. We do it because our scalp itches if our hair gets dirty, but it is possible to go a week or more without washing your hair without any problem. All it takes is getting used to it.
• Dig an Outhouse. If you don’t have water in your home, your toilet isn’t going to work. This is where the old-fashioned outhouse comes in. Dig a hole in the backyard, and construct an outhouse over it. The deeper you dig it, the longer you can use it before having to fill it in and dig another one. Make sure that wherever you put it, it’s a long ways away from any water sources. Bacteria from human waste can travel 100 feet through the ground, contaminating water sources.
• Make a Portable Toilet. If your ground is too hard to dig an outhouse, you can get by with a portable toilet. There are many ways of doing this, but the easiest is to mount a toilet seat on a five gallon bucket. Put plastic bags inside the bucket a few layers thick. After it has been used a few times, remove the bag, and set it aside for disposal.
The Bottom Line
A little care and prior planning will make it easy for you and your family to maintain your personal hygiene and health. Stock up on necessary supplies, along with all your other supplies you are stockpiling. That way, you’ll have enough to see you through. Teach your family how to conserve water now so that they don’t waste it when the time comes.
With proper water conservation, your family can survive much longer with minimal problems. Failure to conserve water will cause you to spend more time hauling water than anything else. You can’t afford to be wasting water filling bathtubs if you only have a few gallons per day.
If you have a family member who refuses to conserve water, you can easily cure them of that by making them be the one to haul water. It won’t take long before they are the ones who are getting after everyone else for unnecessarily wasting water.
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