You have your food and water storage, but have you considered how important sanitation and hygiene will be in the event of an emergency? Improper hygiene can cause an infectious disease outbreak, escalating emergency situations. Here are some tips for creating your family’s sanitation/hygiene plan.
Take a few days to see how many times your family uses the toilet in one day. See how many diapers are used. Note how quickly you go through bar or gel soap. This information will determine the supplies you need to keep on hand. Items you’ll need to help you with bathroom sanitation:
- Portable toilet- A portable potty lid fits over a bucket.
- Potty bags – Sealable, double layer bags with bio-gel can help keep your family clean. These bags can be thrown away at an approved facility (not in normal trash cans).
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper/wipes
- Feminine hygiene products
- Disposable gloves
It’s a good idea to designate some of your water storage for bathing and hygiene. Whether you want to use a separate container or calculate your water needs with the storage you already have, remember that water for hygiene is an important item to have on hand. Here are some items to keep for bathing storage:
- Cleansing cloths- Whether or not you have a baby in your home, baby wipes are great to have on hand for fast, waterless baths.
- Dry shampoo- This can extend the time between showers
- Body wash/body soap
- Shampoo/Conditioner, etc.
- Lotion to prevent cracked skin
You will want to have a good amount of cleaning supplies on hand. A disinfected house will help prevent the spread of disease. Important items to keep on hand:
- Water purification tablets/water preserver
- Bleach – While bleach is not recommended for water purification due to conflicting dilution information, it can be used if another water purification is not available.
- Disinfecting spray- Disinfecting spray is an important thing to keep on hand to spray on door handles and other high traffic areas. This can help stop the spread of most germs.
Part of good hygiene is a thorough first aid plan. Besides a complete first aid kit, anti-diarrhea medicine and cold/cough medicines are important for preventing the spread of family disease. Also, a set of dust/particulate respirator masks can help keep the rest of the family disease free when an outbreak happens.
Be ready to hand wash clothes, dish rags, etc. If your washing machine is out of commission or uses too much water, a wash basin will be a great asset. Keep liquid or powder detergent on hand so you can hand wash without having to break open small pods. Also, if you have space, you might want to store a drying rack.
Unthinkable emergencies can happen at any time to anybody. These can already be high-stress situations. However, if you have a family with small children, it can be even more stressful. There are, however, ways to prepare now to minimize the stress later. Here are a few ideas to help your family be better prepared for an emergency.
Create and practice specific plans–
Your family needs to have plans for every possible emergency. Recognize possible emergencies for your area and adjust accordingly.
- Fire evacuation- Have your kids help you create an evacuation plan complete with different routes and meeting places. If they help create it, they will be more likely to remember the plan.
- Earthquakes- Show your kids how to be safe in an earthquake. Teach them to get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture and make themselves into a small ball, protecting their necks with their hands.
- Tornadoes- Children need to know where the shelters are in school and at home so they know exactly where to go.
Each child should have an emergency pack next to his/her bed to grab and go. That pack does not need to be a heavy, complete pack. Have some food and water, a change of clothes, a flashlight, 2-way walkie/talkie radios, and small toys in that pack. Parents’ packs can be more inclusive.
Also, for emergencies while your child is at school, designate a pocket in your child’s backpack for emergency items. Insert a water pouch, a few granola bars, emergency blanket, and a picture of your family with a little note on the back.
Teach Through Recreation
Family camping trips are not only fun, but they can help teach your children important survival skills. Teach your children fire-starting techniques, how to build emergency shelters, which plants are edible, etc. These activities don’t need to be in the name of emergency preparedness. If you make them fun, your children will learn important skills without even knowing it.
Bug-out bag, 72-hour kit, emergency pack. Whatever you want to call it, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of having one. While you’d like to fit your whole emergency storage in it, you’re limited to space and weight. Here’s a step-by-step process to help you build the perfect 72-hour kit. Items are listed in order of importance in each category.
Food & Water
The first component of a good 72-hour kit is sustenance. You’ll need food and water to stay alive.
Water- Pouched water or water bottles for 3 days. You need to pack a minimum of 40 ounces of water. If there is room in your pack when you finish packing, add as much as will fit.
Food- There are 3 basic sources of food that would work in a 72-hour kit. Any of these would work, but they each have different pros and cons.
- Calorie bars- Emergency Ration Bars are single bars that are packed with 2400-3600 calories. You eat these over the course of the 3 days.
Pros: Easy, calorie-packed, filling, fills less space.
Cons: Short shelf life (1-5 years), nutrient lacking, no variety in taste or nutrition.
- MREs- Meals Ready to Eat are essentially meals in an airtight bag that can be heated and eaten no matter where you are.
Pros: Easy, self-heating, nutrient-rich
Cons: Short shelf life (1-5 years)
- Freeze-Dried- Freeze-dried food is food that has been flash frozen and dehydrated.
Pros: Lightweight, nutrient-rich, easy, long shelf-life (up to 30 years), great variety
Cons: Some items need rehydrating (not all freeze-dried food needs rehydrating to consume.)
Warmth & Shelter
Once the basics of food and water are taken care of, you’re going to want to move on to the need for warmth and shelter. (Or cooling)
- Emergency blankets- Mylar space blankets are compact. They reflect radiant body heat, keeping you warm. You might want to try an emergency sleeping bag to trap heat even better.
- Hand warmers- These warmers can be used for up to 7 hours to keep you warm
- Cooling cloths- Cooling neckcloths can help keep your core body temperature down if you are stranded in the heat.
- Ponchos- Staying dry will be important to keep your heat in. Pack a couple ponchos.
- Tube tent – As far as priorities go, the tube tent is important, but not at the top of the list for your bug-out bag. However, it could be very helpful if you are in a situation where you don’t have shelter. If you have room in your bag, it’s a great asset.
- Flashlight- A flashlight is a very important item in your 72-hour kit. If you can get a combined radio/flashlight, that will cover communication needs, as well. Also, to avoid having to store batteries, a hand-crank flashlight with a cell phone charger is a good idea.
- Light Sticks
A basic first aid kit is essential in a good emergency pack. Essentials include:
- Antibiotic ointment
- Gauze pads
- Cleansing wipes
- Burn cream
- First aid tape
- Particulate respirator mask
- Multipurpose pocket knife
- Collapsible water storage pouch
- Toilet paper roll
- Hand sanitizer
- Diapers/Wipes for babies
- Wet wipes for general hygiene
Make sure you have a sturdy backpack to carry what you need. For families with small children, it might be a good idea to add small toys, playing cards, candy, etc.