Your preps are complete, your house is bomb proof, you run on alternative energy, and you are on the top of a mountain surrounded by a moat… Who can defeat you? Yourself! It doesn’t matter how extensively you have prepped, how secure your retreat is, or how well you are prepared for a TEOTWAWKI situation, if you let it all fall apart from the inside! So what are some simple things that you can do to set yourself up for success?
We’ve all heard the proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and most of us have heard the expression “Don’t poop where you eat!” Well both of those statements couldn’t have more value than in a survival situation. Your health will ultimately determine your survival… weather you can digest certain foods, survive a gunshot wound to the arm, make it through a bout with diarrhea, the list goes on. So why would you invest so much time and consideration into planning and prepping, if you aren’t willing to secure your investment? Now by all means I am not talking about the sterility of a neurosurgery room, or to live in a “bubble”, but there are a few simple steps to take, things that we do every day (or at least should) that will set us up for success.
Showers, baths, and hand-washing is extremely important when dealing with field situations. You have heard it your whole life, from your mother, to the school nurse, to the signs at your place of business saying to wash hands before returning to work. Washing your hands is possibly the single most important thing to preventing the spread of common illnesses. Rinse, lather (with anti-bacterial soap) rinse. It’s really that simple. Plus, nobody feels like using their valuable medical supplies to treat a cold that could have been prevented (and that’s what this is… preventative medicine!) Showers and bathing are also important. You need to keep your body clean, and your pores open and breathing. You don’t want to get fungal or bacterial infections growing. Those are a nightmare and can easily spread.
Food sanitation and preparation.
Obviously water needs to be sterilized, and there are a billion ways to do it, so I’m not going in to that… But let’s talk about food sanitation. How many people do you see on family holidays, or large gatherings that have a meat thermometer checking temperatures? That’s what I thought. A simple two dollar tool can save you a ton of time battling food poisoning, which can be fatal if you don’t have the right resources to deal with it. Buy a food thermometer. Additionally, ensure your foods are protected from disease transferring creatures such as roaches, mice, rats, etc. Keep your food surfaces clean and sanitary. You probably have bleach stored for various things, well this is one you will want it for. Dilute it into a spray bottle, and use it to clean your kitchen area. Once again, food poisoning, salmonella, e-coli, etc can be awfully hard to treat without proper medical facilities.
Ever wonder why your mother said your room looked like a landfill? Because it is so dirty, things can grow, rodents can hide, and it can become a potential trip/fall hazard. Simple organization and cleanliness will save you some headaches. Plus, designate a place for meals, and do not have the “bag of Cheetos in the bed syndrome.” You are just asking for rodents to come in. Additionally, clean your living areas with cleaning solution, and keep the dust to a minimum to combat allergens. Have dust masks handy. Also, keep outlets clear and clean, and power cords untangled and organized. You don’t want to create a fire hazard and burn down all of your precious resources! Air filters for your air conditioning systems (if running alternate energy) or replacement screen material for your windows to ensure that bugs don’t fly in during those warmer summer months are a necessity to keep your air flow clean.
This is where we refer to the quote above. Keep your bathroom sanitary! If using an interior bathroom, ensure it is cleaned thoroughly, and stocked with anti-bacterial soap. Wash your hands after using it, and for the men out there, watch your aim! Do your part to help keep the area clean. Use an appropriate amount of toiletries to get the job done. Avoid clogging the toilet, and forcing interaction with bodily waste. If using an outdoor latrine, ensure steps are taken to keep the odor down, and to keep flies to a minimum. Ensure there are chemicals in the tank, or you have the facility far enough away so as not to contaminate a water supply. If you are using a composting toilet (indoors or out) ensure you are using personal protective equipment (PPE) when you move the waste to a garden. Fecal matter has long been used as a lethal poison for a reason. It is deadly.
Medical waste and sterilization.
Obviously, your tools and equipment when it comes to medical matters need to be sterile. That is a point that doesn’t need stating. But what to do after you use it, and what do you do about where you use it? Whether it is a common cold, an accidental knife or axe wound, or a carefully placed gunshot wound, you need to sterilize the environment you work in, not just for the patient, but for everyone else as well. Nobody wants to treat a patient only to find out that they got everyone else sick by not practicing good hygiene. Obviously wash hands before and after contact with a patient. A patient recovering from an injury already has a weakened immune system from treating its own wound. You do not want to contaminate someone with additional impurities that the body will have to fight off. Also, clean up medical waste after treatment, and dispose of it separately from other garbage. Ensure gloves are worn and a mask is worn if contagious material is around. Then take the waste to a remote location and incineration is generally your best bet. You don’t want to let the medical waste sit and fester in a garbage can.
Rodents carry diseases, and diseases kill people! Don’t let rodents ruin your storage and cause problems! First, store your foods in airtight containers, and keep them above the floor. Ensure they are in containers that mice can’t freely chew through. If a rodent finds that it can eat something, it will continue to come back. If it starves, it will look elsewhere… Ants, roaches, mice, rats, raccoons, and opossums all pose potential problems. The best defense is a good offense when it comes to rodents. Place traps, keep areas clean, and keep them from getting what they want!
In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, the lovely neighborhood Friday trash pick-up isn’t going to happen. You will still accumulate garbage, and you need somewhere to put it. So a couple questions will come to mind at first… Did I stock up on trash bags? Do I have appropriately sealed containers so as not to let rodents in, or worse, bears! But seriously, no one thinks about garbage when they are putting their preps together. Another thing that comes to mind is security. Can you safely burn your refuse without putting a signal out to the world that your area is inhabited? If you can, great, but if not, you may have to consider other means. For natural, organic material, composting will undoubtedly be your best bet. It will fertilize your garden, and limit refuse piling up in your castle. Another idea may be to burn cardboard and paper in a woodstove. Smaller, and less of a signal, the woodstove will burn cardboard and paper, and give your home a byproduct in heat. Plastic bottles and metal cans can be sterilized and reused. in-house recycling is always a good option.
In summary, keep your work areas neat and orderly, clean up as you go. Don’t create any unnecessary risks by leaving trash and clutter around. Keep your areas free of rodents, and ensure you sterilize what you can when you can. There is no need to combat half of the illnesses you face every year if you can prevent it. Also, when you practice these simple cleanliness steps in good times, it will be a lot easier to implement them when SHTF. And cleanliness is everyone’ responsibility! It’s simple to teach kids common steps to clean living, plus they will have fun when they see something they do contribute to the success of the household. Remember that this is Preventative medicine! You do these things to prevent something bad from happening. A couple good references are the Army FM 21-10 (Field Sanitation), the Center For Disease Control, and the American Red Cross. Good luck, stay clean, and happy hunting!