5 Post-Disaster Sanitation Tips
After a disaster, remaining clean is paramount. Even though it is our immediate instinct to think only of how to remain alive, one of the most important survival determiners is sanitation. Here is what to consider:
Maintaining a high level of hygiene drastically reduces the possibility of infection or illness. Practice keeping as clean as possible by washing hands as they are the most susceptible to spreading infection and the spread of disease causing germs. If you already have open wounds or other injuries keep them clean and protected from harmful elements.
- Pay Attention to the Instructions of Authorities
After an earthquake, fire, flood or other type of natural disaster, it's important to have access to instructions and alerts from authorities. One of the best ways to stay informed is by having a self-powered hand-crank weather radio that allows you to hear local authority instructions.
If you cannot access real-time communication from authorities it is important to not rely on water from the tap or other city infrastructure is the piping could be compromised and the water contaminated. Find contained water from a store or natural spring. Only after local authorities have communicated to you that the water is safe is it recommended to return to normal expectations of tap water.
- Find Safe Water
If you have the foresight to plan for a future emergency, make sure to stockpile, even more than what you expect, of safe drinking water for you and your family. Remember that we usually use clean water throughout the day in many different ways, not just drinking. Some examples of overlooked water usage activities are: brushing teeth, washing hands, and cooking.
As part of your stockpile, include distilled water for cleaning injuries.
- Making Water Safe
When faced with no drinkable or usable water you will need to resort to filtering, boiling or disinfecting the water which can be done as follows:
Boiling: Use towels, coffee filters or any permeable surface to filter the water initially. When no makeshift filter is found apply the technique of letting the water sit until the sediment settles. Extract the clear water from the top then boil for at least a minute. Before using the water let it cool down and any unused liquid should be contained in a well-sealed container.
Disinfecting: Use iodine, unscented bleach, or water purification tablets to disinfect the liquid. Again, filter the water as mentioned before. If using water purifying products, follow the directions from the manufacturer when applying tablets or iodine to water. The Bleach method is as follows, add 1/8th of a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water, stir well, and let stand for half an hour before usage.
- Final Options
If you none of the previous methods or water scenarios are available, leverage the immediate resources of your home by locating the reserve water in your water heater container or the water in your toilet tank (caution: not the bowl liquid). It is safe to use if it has not been treated with any cleaning chemicals.
If no home resources are available, try to find access to rainwater or water from rivers or other flowing bodies of water. Avoid standing water which can be a source of infection and disease.