Sanitation in an Emergency

Do you remember returning from your family camping trip smelling like Big Foot? I bet that first hot shower felt amazing, washing away all the dirt and grime. Perhaps you even needed a second shower to get the campfire smell out of your hair. Imagine being out in the elements and never being able to get clean? Even worse, imagine an emergency situation where the spread of filth and disease is unpredictable because there isn’t sufficient sanitation to contain it. That need to get clean after a camping trip underscores the need to make personal hygiene a part of your emergency preparedness.

When Would You Need a Sanitation Station? 
During Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, one of the biggest problems was the human waste that piled up because the city’s sewage system was knocked out. It does take a category 5 hurricane to cause a sanitation emergency, though.  Overheated power grids can cut power to sewage/water stations. Storms, sabotage, and other factors can also affect our sewer systems.  At that point, even your home can become a bacterial nightmare.

That’s okay. Your emergency preparedness plan includes your sanitation needs. Because you’ve prepared, your family can stay clean and disease-free. Here are some tips to get your sanitation station going.

Staying Clean with Limited Water
Of course, washing your hands is one of the most important parts of personal hygiene. This is when your water storage comes in handy.  A  water container with a spigot is a great asset in your preparedness plan. The water container can be used over a sink or bucket to keep your flow of water going and your hands clean.

If you don’t have access to clean water, there are options.  Keep wet wipes (preferably antibacterial), hand sanitizer and paper towels on hand. Remember that household cleaning wipes (like Lysol or Clorox) are NOT safe for skin.

Keep Surfaces Clean 
Speaking of household cleaning wipes, these should be part of your sanitation preparedness plan.  Surfaces in toilet and eating areas will be susceptible to germs spreading. Premoistened disinfecting wipes are a great way to kill germs and prevent bugs/rodents from infecting your space.

Toilet Needs
Part of a good sanitation plan is understanding toilet needs. Since toilet areas are breeding ground for germs, you’ll want to make sure you have a specified area for human waste, as far away as possible from food and living areas.  If you are sheltering at home, you can use your established toilets, just line the inside of the bowl with a trash bag or disposable bathroom bag. (Use a drop or two of bleach after each use to minimize bacterial growth. Having portable toilets, disposable bathroom bags (preferably with biodegradable gel/powder to break down waste), and a handwashing station will help contain germs to one area.
(Note- Find out what your city ordinances regarding human waste disposal are before you put full bags in the trash.)

Your Sanitation Kit
Make sure you have the items you need in your 72-hour kit to stay sanitary and sane.

  • Water Container with spigot
  • Wet Wipes
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Soap
  • Body Wipes
  • 5 gallon bucket toilet
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toilet bags with biodegradable gel
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss (Cleanpaste)
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Baking Soda
  • Lip balm
  • Travel Towel
  • Nail Clippers
  • Body Powder
  • Comb
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Straight Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Small Scissors
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • Contact Solution
  • Extra Pair of Glasses in Case
  • Contact Case

What else do you keep in your sanitation kit?

Image thanks to My Honey’s Place