In a disaster that shuts down utilities, such as drinking and waste water, your task of staying healthy and germ-free rises to a new priority level. A lack of ample water for washing hands, bodies, clothing and dishes can make staying healthy rather tricky.
Last week, I introduced many of you to the steps for making your own portable toilet. Having a backup toilet is a great step toward preparedness, but you need to make some other considerations.
First, begin gathering an emergency stash of some of the supplies you normally use to stay clean. Remember, in a disaster, these items can be very hard to come by. Emergency Essentials, one of our partners in bringing you preparedness information, suggests the following:
Toilet paper (may also function like currency in your neighborhood during a disaster)
Rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer
Bath soap, shampoo and deodorant
Liquid dish soap and laundry soap
Liquid bleach, powdered cleansers and ammonia
Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Feminine hygiene products
Plastic bags (garbage-sized and smaller)
Baby products — diapers, wipes, bottles, etc.
Consider whether a portable shower makes sense for your family.
Second, make sure you know the proper actions during a disaster. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating. Remember, water will be a very precious resource, especially purified drinking water. That water will keep you alive as you use it for drinking, cooking or washing dishes.
Be prepared to sanitize any food preparation areas and make sure to get rid of table scraps by burying or burning them to keep rodents away. Wash dishes at some distance from your water source or your food preparation area.
Bathing may have to take place in a stream or river, or even in the rain if there is no running water.
Keep clean and stay healthy!
Be Ready Utah, the Deseret News and Emergency Essentials are providing preparedness information weekly through April to help you get ready. Why not register for the April 17 Great Utah ShakeOut and use that day as a chance to practice your emergency plans and add items to your emergency supplies?
Joe Dougherty is a preparedness expert and the spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. Send your preparedness tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily preparedness tips available at twitter.com/bereadyutah.