Great Utah ShakeOut: Sanitize to stay alive

By Joe Dougherty

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, March 8 2013 9:15 p.m. MST

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Editor’s note: This is the eighth of a series of columns to help Utahns get ready for emergencies, disasters and the Great Utah ShakeOut 2013. Read the rest of the articles here.

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)

Paper towels

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.

Of course, this kind of prospect will inspire some to begin storing water so that they have plenty to use. BeReadyUtah.gov and Ready.gov both have some great tips on how to get started.

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 jdougherty@utah.gov. Daily preparedness tips available at twitter.com/bereadyutah.

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