During a Disaster: Hygiene and Infection Control Considerations

posted Mar 28, 2012, 10:27 AM by Todd Fox   [ updated Sep 24, 2016, 7:58 AM ]
Disasters are events that no one can fully predict. They usually come upon us quickly and leave lasting effects. The only thing we can reasonably to do is prepare and have a plan of action. This is especially true when it comes to hygiene during a disaster situation. How you prepare now can dictate the quality of life you experience during and after a disaster.

Making small preparations can lessen your suffering and the suffering of your household or organization members. Follow the following steps (not necessarily in chronological order) to help yourself prepare.

It is important to start great hygiene habits now so you can OUTFOX infection now and at the time when a disaster occurs. Let us help! If you would like additional information you can contact us at
info@OUTFOXprevention.com or here.
 
1. Before a Disaster

General topics for preparation include: Vaccinations, Prepare a Hygiene Kit, Medication and so forth. These suggestions are not comprehensive. For, they are mainly focused on the hygiene aspect of disaster survival. There are other elements of survival (Nutrition, Safety, Shelter, etc.) that are connected but will be featured in future lessons.
 
1A. Vaccinations

Make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. You never know when a disaster will occur. Outbreaks can occur frequently during a disaster since basic hygiene elements breakdown without structure (running water, sewer drains, trash removal, etc.). Vaccinations can help your body deal with different substances that haven't been subject to until a disaster.
 
1B. Prepare a Hygiene Kit
 
Based on the number of people in your household or organization, assemble a hygiene kit that will last for quite a few days. Some of the items that should be added to your kit include:
  • -Respiratory Masks (N95 or simple masks will do)
  • -Toilet Paper
  • -Tissues and/or Napkins
  • -Wet Sanitation Wipes (Alcohol Based)
  • -Tampons or Feminine Pads
  • -Hand Sanitizer
  • -Soap (Liquid and Bar)
  • -Alcohol
  • -Hydrogen Peroxide
  • -Bleach
  • -Water Sanitizing System
  • -General First Aid Kit (Bandages, Scissors, Ointment, etc.)
  • -Plastic Bags (Zip Locking Preferred)
  • -Oral Hygiene
1C. Medication

You should always supply an adequate amount of necessary medication. Leaving prescriptions to the very end to be refilled can be dangerous. On the flip side, consuming expired medication can also be harmful. Hence, maintaining a balance of supply can be difficult but it should be a focus to effectively survive a disaster. Other medication that is not necessary should also be stored and rotated before expiration.

2. During a Disaster

Hygiene can be one of the most important things to focus on during a disaster. It can mean the difference between comfort and suffering. In addition, hygiene preparation can also affect the quality of life of the survivors once the disaster recovery is recovered. Preparing and executing doesn't have to be an intense process. You just need to uphold simple habits that will maintain adequate levels of health and hygiene. The following steps are not necessarily in chronological order.

2A. Wash Foods Adequately

Adding some bleach to water can effectively neutralize/eliminate harmful bacteria, pesticides and other particles when washing fruits, vegetables and even meats. Consuming small amounts of bleach through sanitation should be fine over a small amount of time. To best clean, get in the habit of cleaning the food as it is received so it is not accidentally consumed dirty when hungry. Cleaning the food early allows the household to know that the food is clean instead of guessing whether it had been sanitized or not.

2B. Wash Hands Often and Refrain from Touching Your Face

Maintain great hand hygiene by using sanitizer or soap and water often. When possible, avoid activities that will soil or contaminate your hands. Touching your face is a way that germs are often spread from the hands. By eliminating the habit to touch your face now, you will be helping your body fight infection better in the future. Start the habits now!

2C. Clean Water

Only use clean water when possible. Plan ahead with water storage or cleaning systems. Maintaining a clean environment during a disaster becomes a lot easier when there is plenty of water. Having clean water can mean all the difference and has been the demise of many disaster victims.

2D. Control Trash, Fecal Matter and Other Waste

The manner in which you handle, store and dispose of waste will factor into the severeness of contamination. Do a poor job and your household may suffer. Refrain from storing waste in any living space (especially do not use toilets when water is not running). Designate a spot where waste will be stored and controlled for best results. Having a central location will reduce the amount ways that contamination can occur. Cover when possible.

2E. Ration Hygiene Supplies

Make sure to pay attention to your supply of hygiene materials. Conducting an inventory immediately after the disaster will determine your overall usage of the materials. Ration the amount that can be used and communicate it to the entire household. Taking subsequent inventories on a daily basis will help you be on top of any supply issues so you can cut back if necessary.

2F. Curtail Infection

If cuts, scrapes or other damages occur, make sure to stay ahead of infection. Use the alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or ointment to keep cuts clean. Don't let cuts or scrapes become infected before you do anything with them. Be proactive.



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