A few years ago the New York Times published an article about how a third of people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Pretty gross, but it’s okay since we live in a relatively clean society. There is plenty of soap and running water available for the rest of us and there are anti-bacterial gel dispensers everywhere.
However, after a natural disaster or economic collapse, the level of hygiene in first world nations will plunge dramatically. There will be areas where tap water is only available intermittently and where garbage trucks no longer come every week.
Imagine what your neighborhood will look like when people go outside when nature calls (no water for toilets) and bags of trash pile up in people’s yards. It will be a field day for germs and bacteria. Disease will spread rapidly so it will be up to you to safeguard yourself and your family with proper survival hygiene.
1. Wash your hands – I know, it’s obvious, but I couldn’t leave it out. Disinfect all water and only wash your hands with clean water. After you’ve washed them, don’t rinse them off with the same water (because that water isn’t clean anymore).
2. Stock up on paper towels – You don’t want to use cloth towels because they have to be washed. That will be a problem if water is in short supply. Paper towels are the fastest sanitary way to dry your hands.
3. Stock up on disposable plates and utensils – For the same reason as paper towels. You don’t want to waste your disinfected water washing dishes.
4. Get some hand sanitizer – By the way, just a little squirt isn’t enough. You really have to slather your hands with this stuff. I like the Germ-X Hand Sanitizer with Vitamin E.
5. Get some anti-bacterial wipes – These are great way to wash your hands and they’re as good as gel hand sanitizer. I have several canisters of Wet Ones Fresh Scent Wipes.
6. Get some disinfecting wipes – Unlike anti-bacterial wipes, these are for cleaning surface areas like counters and sinks. I use Clorox Wipes.
7. Buy a few bottles of chlorine – You don’t need much. Mix one cup of it with three cups of water in a spray bottle, then have someone else spray your hands. Let them air dry.
8. Buy some gloves and masks – You don’t have to wear them all the time, but you’ll definitely need them when you’re taking care of someone sick, cleaning the toilet or handling trash. I’d get some Latex Gloves.
9. Keep your clean water clean – Disinfected water should be stored in thick, sealed containers that are clearly marked: “Clean water.” Wear gloves when getting water out of or adding clean water to these containers.
10. Keep your garbage sealed and separate – Use thick trash bags and tie them closed with a knot. Just to be safe, put particularly hazardous things like dirty diapers and rotten food in freezer bags.
A lot of sites sell “survival hygiene kits,” but I wouldn’t bother. They’re almost never worth the money. As long as you get the items listed above along with plenty of soap and shampoo you’ll be set.