Keeping Clean After a Disaster

Posted on: March 21, 2016

[The following is an excerpt from Countdown to Preparedness.]

The importance of keeping reasonably clean cannot be overemphasized when it comes to disaster preps. Being able to wash up not only is a huge boost to morale but it goes a long way toward reducing the possibilities of infections and illnesses.

Imagine being stuck at home for several weeks during a quarantine (self-imposed or otherwise). Faucets aren’t working, so no running water is available. Height of summer and no air conditioning due to no electricity. Each day you and your family are working hard in the garden to bring in needed crops as well as making any necessary repairs or improvements to the home itself.

You are all constantly sweaty, dirty, and disheveled.

And there’s also an infant in the family going through perhaps a dozen diapers a day.

A stink like that will get into your very soul.

You need to plan ahead so you and your family members have the means to clean up, at least somewhat.

Start with laying in a good supply of baby wipes, whether you have a young child in the home or not. These work great for quick sponge baths. They can also serve well as toilet paper, of course, should you run out.

Next, stock up on soap and shampoo. While I fully realize bar soap can be used to clean hair as well as the body, generic shampoo isn’t all that costly.

Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash are all essential as well. Make sure you have plenty of extras on hand. Figure out how long a tube of toothpaste lasts your family and multiply that out so you have at least enough to last a few months. Toothbrushes are supposed to last about six months but they are cheap enough so figure about 5 extras per family member. By the way, don’t throw away the old ones. They are great for small cleaning projects.

Stick to unscented deodorants and avoid using body sprays in emergency situations. Trust me, as a father of a teenager, body sprays are highly overrated when it comes to masking other smells.

Hand sanitizer is critical. Using it will allow you to quickly wash hands after using the bathroom without having to expend water. However, they do tend to dry out hands so you might consider adding hand lotion to your shopping list.

A camp shower will probably be welcome after a few days without bathing. You can buy these at any decent sporting goods store, or make your own. A five gallon bucket, painted black, will heat water nicely on a sunny day. If you’re the handy sort, drill a hole towards the bottom of the bucket and rig up a small hose type fitting. Suspend the bucket above head level. Then, attach a hose and nozzle to turn the water on and off. Otherwise, you could just have someone on a ladder dump water over you while you wash up.

Naturally, you’d want to use rainwater for bathing purposes and not water you’ve stored for consumption.

Your family members, especially those who have poked fun at your prepping, will be lining up to give you a high five when they’re able to feel human again after a crisis hits.

1 thought on “Keeping Clean After a Disaster

  1. Another good tip is to stand in a large bucket or baby bath to catch the water from your shower. Depending on how dirty you are, you can scoop it up and pour it over yourself again. Once done, the water can be used for flushing toilets etc.

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