The thirty-fourth capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must [be able to] maintain general personal hygiene practices such as hand washing and occasional bathing. In it I state that:
You must “Maintain general personal hygiene practices such as hand washing and occasional bathing. With the understanding that running water is not available and general hygiene practices may be limited, you should understand how to wash your hands (as well as your body) with limited water resources; a sturdy camp shower would come in handy with this in mind. The military has perfected these activities, by the way.”
One of my pet-peeves, if you will, in the prepping community is that it seems to me there isn’t nearly enough emphasis on proper hygiene practices when it comes to emergency preparedness. As Americans (or any first-world nation), I think we’ve become way too complacent in this area of our life in large part because of our successes with water management and waste disposal.
Diseases caused by poor personal hygiene are always among the top of the list in third world countries, and for good reason. Remember, that an emergency situation is an awful lot like living under such circumstances. Fortunately, these problems can be fairly easily mitigated if you simply take a few steps to do so. I’ve covered topics such as bathroom hygiene in the past and will cover others (such as avoiding food contamination) in the future; this post will be mostly about hand washing and bathing.
In my opinion, there should be no excuse for not being able to keep your hands clean–for short periods of time–even without running water. Stock up on plenty of soap (liquid and bar soap) and hand sanitizer too. Wet wipes are good to keep around as well but tend to go bad (the alcohol evaporates eventually) after a few years.
The major problem we have when it comes to hand washing is a lack of running water or, at least, conservation of water. In this case, you’ll want a way to allow you to wash your hands but still conserve water. Something as simple as a five gallon bucket with a spigot in the bottom may be a viable option. I’ve seen videos of a 2-liter bottle inverted where you simply unscrew the cap a little and let water trickle out. There are camping sinks available that could prove to be the “cats meow” in this case. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of options… get a few together.
Bathing may not seem like a huge deal when you’re literally trying to survive but in longer term emergencies keeping clean is vital. Unfortunately, most of us simply cannot afford to run 40-50 gallons of water for a bath or shower. Instead, you need to think like the Army does: wet down, lather up, and rinse off. Or, you could occasionally use a simple wash rag to clean yourself, especially your face, feet, and hands; other areas to focus on include the groin and armpits.
Again, there are plenty of ideas out there as to what you can do for a makeshift shower. A camp shower is very useful for this, especially since they’re designed to absorb the suns heat and provide a warm–even hot–mini shower; just be aware that they can be awkward and heavy so practice with one before relying on it. Other ideas I’ve seen include a garden sprayer painted black where you can use the wand in place of a shower head; just be sure to NEVER use a garden sprayer that contained any chemicals at all. If you’re planning on doing this it’s best to buy one brand new and save it for this purpose.
So, what’s your plan?