Importance of Sanitation in Your Emergency Preparedness Plan
Emergency planning and preparation is not only about storing food and water. Often, we leave out important aspects of preparing for disasters and emergencies. One of the common things left out is about our plans for sanitation.
Natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes can significantly affect your sanitary needs. Sanitation facilities are very much affected, and unhealthy conditions can cause health problems and outbreaks. Our water sources are always at risk of being contaminated, especially during floods. Our sanitary needs, however, would require water. Clean and potable water, on the other hand, are scarce especially after disasters and natural calamities.
This brings us to the need of including sanitation needs in our emergency planning.
Clean Water for More Than Just Drinking
We know that we need water for survival. Water is not just for drinking alone. Take our daily activities as example, in the entire day we use water in cooking, watering the plants, cleaning hands, washing our dishes, bathing, and flushing our dirty business down the toilet. In short, water has everything to do with sanitation and hygiene.
After a calamity or a natural disaster, we do not often realize that without proper sanitation and hygiene, we are increasing risks of diseases and death. Since most of sanitation facilities, like bathrooms, are destroyed during calamities people are forced to use certain facilities over and over again, especially in evacuation centers. Being unprepared for our sanity needs, can increase our family's risk of acquiring diseases, worm infestations and even, hepatitis.
Experts recommend that one gallon of water per person per day should be stored during disaster preparation or planning. For each gallon, half is for drinking and the other half would be for cooking and sanitation. For families that have special needs, such as families with sick, nursing mothers, babies and young children, and older members, then having extra water is recommended. Pets should also be considered in your water storage plan.
Personal Hygiene Kits and Supplies for Natural Disasters and Emergencies
You need to incorporate a personal hygiene kit in your disaster and emergency plan. Hygiene kits typically include the following supplies:
- Toilet paper
- Soap and liquid detergent
- Feminine supplies (ie sanitary napkins, pantyliners)
- Personal hygiene items
- Plastic garbage bags
- Plastic bucket with lid
- Towels and towelettes
- Large plastic garbage can
- Infant needs (ie diapers, wipes)
- Waterless shampoo
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
There are also waterless alternatives for keeping the body clean, like using sanitizers, alcohol, and even lotions with alcohol content. Provide each family member with a bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer or sanitizers that contain as much as 60% alcohol, which they can use to clean their hands before eating or when preparing food. Although, sanitizers do not needarily remove all the germs they can quickly reduce germs in your hands.
You may also want to boil or disinfect the water you will be using to clean yourself, especially if you think that the tap water you are using are not clean.
Emergency preparedness is not only about food storing, rather, it should also cover your family's physical cleanliness and hygiene. Often, diseases that spreads after disasters can cause death and health problems the same as the disaster or calamity itself.