Personal Hygiene After a Disaster or Emergency

When the world seems to be flooding or blowing up around you the last thing you have on your mind is keeping clean. However there is no other time when it is more important to stay hygienic.  Good basic hygenic and handwashing are critical to help prevent the spread of illness and disease.



The best way to clean yourself is in clean safe running water but the problem is that this type of service is not always available. If your tap water is not safe to use then wash your hands with water that has been boiled or disinfected.



Be sure to wet your hands with clean, running water and scrub them well with soap. Be sure to scrub your fingers and under your nails.  Keep rubbing your hands together for at least twenty seconds.  Singing Happy Birthday twice is about twenty seconds.  Rinse your hands well after and dry thoroughly.



If soap and water are not available then use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that is at least sixty percent alcohol. This can help to quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations.



To keep from getting sick it is best to wash your hands before, during and after preparing food and after eating food. You should also wash them before eating food and after using the toile and changing diapers.  Hands also need cleaning before and after changing wounds or cuts or caring for someone who is sick.  Be sure to clean them before and after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. You also need to clean your hands after touching garbage or touching animal wastes.



Not all animals are that clean either. Be sure to wash them thoroughly after you have touched any type of animal.



It is also very important to keep wounds clean and covered during an emergency. Washing a wound with safe clean water is necessary to control infection. Make sure that your own hands are absolutely pristine before touching a bandage or a wound on another person. You should also wash your hands often if you must take care of someone with a contagious disease.


You should also make sure that you are brushing your teeth and bathing with clean water. It is a good idea to keep listening to the radio or television to make sure that any tap water that you are using is safe to use. If you have a well you might have to get the water tested after a disaster to make sure that it is still safe to use.