In most disaster scenarios, sanitation is a major problem. After an earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, in a war zone, or especially during a pandemic, your area will quickly be contaminated with germs and disease. That means water, food, public restrooms, really any public area is going to be dangerous. Especially if someone in your family doesn’t have a strong immune system (such as small children or the elderly).
First of all, sewers and septic tanks are likely to leak or overflow into the surrounding ponds, lakes, and pipelines. Second, without garbage trucks, dead animals and trash will quickly pile up and create breeding grounds for germs. Third, most people will not dispose of their waste properly. They’ll dump it on the ground in their backyards, and it will seep into waterways. Finally, oil and gasoline from damaged or submerged vehicles is likely to spread into the earth as well. To make matters worse, the stress of the situation is likely to weaken your immune system. So what can you do to avoid contracting a disease?
Ideally, you’ll want to stay inside for as long as possible. But if the crisis lasts for a long time, you’re going to have to go outside eventually. Here are some supplies you should start stocking up on right now (in alphabetical order):
1. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes – These are great for cleaning any surface areas that get touched frequently. They’re convenient, too, because you don’t have to mess with soap and water. I recommend getting the big four-packs they sell in stores like Walmart.
2. Drinking Water – You’ll need at least a gallon per person per day. Two gallons would be even better because you’ll also need clean water to bathe yourself with. If you run out of clean water, you’ll have to boil whatever water you can find. A roiling boil for 1 minute should do it. (Rain water must be boiled, too.) If you don’t have room to store a lot of drinking water or don’t have enough fuel to boil water everyday, I recommend buying a Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter. This will clean up to 13000 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced.
3. Feminine Hygiene Products – I think this is pretty self explanatory.
4. Nitrile Gloves – Wear these while cleaning and dealing with waste. You don’t want to get germs all over your hands.
5. Pampers Baby Fresh Wipes – These are great for cleaning yourself if you don’t have enough clean water for bathing. They’re very convenient, too.
6. Paper Towels – These are for drying off after washing yourself. Don’t just use the same cloth towels over and over. They’ll get dirty with time, and it takes precious water to clean them.
8. Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer – Use hand sanitizer when you get up in the morning, after you go to the bathroom, before you start cooking, before you eat, basically all the time!
9. Regular Unscented Bleach – This kind of bleach has a longer shelf life, and it can also be used to purify water.
10. Soap – You didn’t think I’d make a list of sanitation supplies without mentioning soap, did you?
11. Toilet Paper – There’s an old survivalist joke that when TSHTF, toilet paper will be worth its weight in gold. I wouldn’t be surprised if this actually happened.
12. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste – Remember, the mouth is the dirtiest part of the body.
13. Trash Bags – You’ll need somewhere to put all those dirty baby wipes. You can never have too many trash bags!
Remember, the best way to prevent disease is to avoid getting one in the first place. Wash your hands!