Disaster Supply Kit: Hygiene and Sanitation
- Learn different hygiene and sanitation options that can go in an emergency kit.
- Determine what works best for you and your family.
- Put those in your emergency kits.
- Rotate as necessary.
Disaster Supply Kit: Hygiene and Sanitation
Whether you are staying home or evacuating, your disaster supply kit needs to have all of the the essential items of survival to last you three to five days or longer. This includes your hygiene and sanitation needs. The items listed on this page do not all need to be in the hygiene and sanitation bag inside your kit. This is a very comprehensive list. If you do not need an item for the necessity of your health or that of your family members, feel free to leave it off your list. As always, tailor emergency supply lists according to your needs, ability, and budget. Many of the items on this list can be found in a smaller size in the travel section of your local grocery store or shopping center. Remember to inventory and check the items in your kit at least once a year to make sure they are still usable.
Oral hygiene is always a must. Include toothbrush and toothpaste in your kit. Include age appropriate toothpaste and child sized brushes for the younger people in your group. Don't forget to update the hygiene supplies as children grow up.
Dental floss, besides the obvious use in oral hygiene can be used for other things as well in a survival situation. You can use it as a strong thread in mending clothing and gear, or even as a suture. Use it for lashing, tying gear together, temporary shoelaces, as a clothes line, or anything else you would use normal twine for. If you needed, you could use it to make a snare to trap small animals. You can even use it to cut soft foods like meats, cheeses, and fruits. Since it is flammable, you can use it to tie bundles of tinder together for starting a fire.
Hand sanitizer, with at least a 60% alcohol base or more is effective in killing germs when regular hand washing is unavailable. This high alcohol content means that hand sanitizer can also be used to help light a fire. Squirt a glob on your tinder before lighting to help it catch fire quicker. Use sanitizer to disinfect small cuts to prevent infection.
A comb may not be directly related to your physical well-being, but since survival is mostly a mind-set, looking better can help you feel better as well. A comb can also help to clean dirt, debris, bugs, and other unpleasantness out of your hair.
Toilet tissue is a luxury that none of us want to go without. Remember the TP-Armageddon of 2020? Yes, you can use leaves, crinkled up newspaper, or corn cobs like the pioneers did, but it's easier to just store some in your kit. You can buy small rolls without a cardboard core that are the perfect size for your kit, or just reroll a few yards from the rolls at home and put them in a waterproof zip-style sandwich baggie. TP is also a good fire starter when you don't have any other tinder available.
If you desire a cleaner experience, you may want to include a few pre-moistened flushable wipes in individual packaging. Do the majority of the cleanup work with the dry TP and save the wipes for the...the very end. Though they say they are flushable, they still tend to clog sewer pipes. It's best to put them in the trash.
The same with anti-bacterial wet wipes or baby wipes these only go in the trash. You many want to include a travel sized package of one of these, even if you don't use them on your backside. These wipes can also be used for a body bath. Start at your head and work your way down to your feet then your groin area. Be conservative in how you use them, but your should be able to clean your entire body with two or three. Don't get the surface disinfecting wipes since they are not intended for skin. They are also good for cleaning hands or gear that got dirty.
If you have infants in your family, your will need diapers as well as baby wipes. For your baby's disaster supply kit that you may be using in an evacuation scenario, don't worry about cloth diapers that will need to be cleaned and disinfected. Just go with disposable diapers, even if you use cloth diapers at home. Pack a minimum of five days worth and remember that in a stressful situation, your child may develop diarrhea and need to be changed more often than normal. Pack a few extra diapers. Don't forget to up the size of the diapers in your baby's kit when your baby grows into the next size. This can happen every few months. Don't forget baby powder and diaper cream as needed. Diapers can also be used in first aid applications with massive hemorrhaging or as bandaging material for large wounds. Since they are super absorbent, they can also be used to clean up blood, vomit, and other biological waste.
Feminine items may be a necessity for you or some of the female members of your family or group. Make sure that the people that need them have the right ones to meet their personal hygiene needs. Since they are made from cotton, feminine items work extremely well as tinder for starting a fire. Spread on some petroleum jelly to slow the burn and a hygiene pad can burn for a few minutes, kind of like a candle, making lighting a fire much easier. Feminine items are designed to be very absorbent so they make great bandaging material in first aid applications as well. Secure the pad in place with tape or a roll of gauze. Additionally, you can use feminine items in water treatment as a pre-filter before putting the water through a standard filter.
Commercial sanitation bags come prefilled with absorbent material or chemical to break down human waste. They are easy to take in evacuation kits and vehicles. Some sanitation bags are designated exclusively for liquid waste like urine but can be used for vomit as well. These absorb the liquid and turn it into a gel. Other sanitation bags are only for solid waste and are filled with a chemical that breaks down the solid waste and makes it inert. If used properly, commercial sanitation bags can be thrown in any garbage can after use. There are many different brands. Talk to your local outdoor recreation retailer or emergency preparedness dealer for what would best fit your needs.
Additionally, you may consider a small digging tool or a large knife to create a small "cat hole" to deposit human waste in. This does not work in urban areas, but if you find yourself in a more rural area, this may be a viable option.
Just like a comb, a razor and travel shave cream may not be essential to your survival, but if you regularly shave, a few days of hair growth can become uncomfortable and itchy. When you feel better, your emotional health is better. A razor can also be used as a cutting tool if you don't have a knife. Shaving cream can be applied to prescription glasses or sunglasses to prevent fogging. Apply a small amount, rub it in and wipe it off.
A bar of soap with water is the best way to wash your hands and wash your body. It's a good idea to store the bar in a small snack-sized zip-style baggie in your kit. Include a small washcloth to help scrub the dirt and grime off of your body with a sponge bath, but using a washcloth instead. When you are done, rinse out the cloth and hang it on the outside of your kit to dry.
Whether you bathe or get stuck in a downpour, you'll want a small towel to dry off with. A camper's towel is light-weight and dries much faster than a standard cotton towel. You can squeeze it out and continue drying off. A car shammy is about the same material and will work as well. As with the washcloth, when you are done, hang it on the outside of your kit to dry off. When it's dry, pack it back into your hygiene and sanitation supplies in your kit.
A small bottle of anti-bacterial hand/dish soap can be used to wash not only your hands, body, and hair, but your mess kit, water bladder, canteen, utensils, and even your clothing if necessary. If you want, you can add a small travel sized bottle of shampoo, but that is one more bottle adding weight and taking room.
To help with washing your mess kit and other cooking and eating supplies, use a dish scrubber pad. You can cut a full sized one in half or even in quarters to save room in your kit.
Lip balm is important to add to your hygiene kit to protect your lips from sun and wind. If your lips get severely chapped or burned, they can crack, swell, and get infected, making it not only unpleasant to talk and eat, but difficult as well. That is not good for your morale.
A few baggies can be used for many different things including a receptacle for gathering water, waterproofing and organizing gear, a place to put soiled or wet items for later cleaning, a container for trash or biohazards, and anything else you can think of.
Use a small camp or signal mirror for help in personal hygiene and grooming, for looking for ticks or wounds on yourself in hard to see areas, and for emergency signaling.
Nail clippers and emery boards can be used to trim your fingernails. They help prevent hangnails and the painful and annoying little pieces of skin that peal from around your nails. If they are torn off, they can get infected, causing even more pain. Clippers can also be used to cut small pieces of twine or loose threads to prevent unraveling.
Garbage bags are needed not only to gather and dispose of garbage and trash, but also to line and waterproof your disaster supply kit. They can also be converted into makeshift rain ponchos if you cut a hole just big enough for your head and two more for your arms.
12 Areas: Hygiene and Sanitation
Clean and Sanitize in an Emergency
Garbage and Trash in an Emergency