Personal Hygiene As Part Of Survival
One of the most forgotten areas of survival is personal hygiene. The image of people who are all dirty and in ragged clothing may be good for Hollywood, but it’s not a very realistic one for survival. While it is true that many people may end up looking like that; the part that Hollywood always forgets it that those people will be fraught with disease.
Dirt itself doesn’t cause disease, although it can convey it. A number of different types of parasites can get into our system via contact with dirt, especially if that dirt gets in our food. But sweat, which generally goes along with being dirty, attracts mosquitoes, which are known to carry and transmit disease.
As we’ve all seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, disease also spreads from one contagious person to others through physical contact, as well as contact with surfaces where the contagious person’s virus or bacterial rich spittle has landed. That’s why the CDC and other agencies were recommending washing our hands frequently, in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease. While washing doesn’t kill most bacteria and viruses, it does remove them from our hands by “mechanical means,” flushing them down the drain. That helps prevent us from transmitting those pathogens to our faces, touching ourselves.
This idea of using personal hygiene to slow the spread of disease, that it has all but come a religion within military forces around the world. Soldiers who fall to illness are just as much casualties as those who fall to bullets and are unavailable to help fight the war. So armies demand good personal hygiene, as a way of helping to keep their soldiers well.
But how can you do that, if you’re also dealing with limited water?
First of all, you don’t need to use drinking water to bathe or wash your clothing. That can be done in unfiltered pond water. The amount of pathogens you might be putting on your body from the water is probably considerably less than that which you will be removing. Besides, once you dry off, most of the bacteria that came from the water won’t be able to survive.
It is possible for men to bathe with about a half gallon of water and for women to do so with about a gallon. This is common in third-world countries I’ve been to. They don’t have showers or bathtubs like we do, except in fancy hotels and the homes of the rich. Everyone else takes a bucket of water into a small cement room and bathes out of it.
To do this, start by scooping some of the water out of the bucket with a plastic cup or bowl. Use that to wet down your hair. As you do, the water will run down your body, wetting it as well. Then shampoo your hair, only using enough shampoo to get it to lather. You don’t want to overdo it, or you will need more water to rinse off with.
Once you have lathered your hair, take whatever soap you use and wash your body. It’s more efficient to use the soap applied to a washcloth and allow the coarseness of the fabric to help get dirt off your body. Then scoop more water out of the bucket, using it to rinse; again, start from the top and work your way down. Most of the soap on your body will rinse off, just from rinsing your hair.
This sort of shower may not leave you feeling refreshed, but it will leave you clean. Don’t forget to brush your teeth.
Also, use something like SurvivaLighter to make fire, even when the power is down and you have no matches.
Alternate Power For Off Grid Survival
One of the various “holy grails” of the prepping community is going off-grid, so that we don’t have to depend on our nation’s infrastructure for electricity, water, sewage or gas. While this may actually be considered illegal in some parts of the country, it could make survival much easier after a TEOTWAWKI event.
But living off-grid, either in normal times or in a post-disaster world is difficult. We consume massive amounts of electricity in our modern society; more than we can practically produce on our own. It’s unlikely that most of us will ever reach the point where we are producing enough electricity to meet all our needs, if our needs stay the same as they are today.
A few years back, I asked a solar company to give me a quote, more out of curiosity than anything else. Their quote was based upon my “average electrical use,” under the assumption that I would buy electricity from the utility company when I wasn’t producing enough and sell excess to them when I had it to spare. In that way, the grid would essentially act as a battery for me.
There are several fallacies to this concept, starting with electric companies selling electricity at retail, while buying it at wholesale. The company didn’t take into account inefficiencies in their system either. But why should they” They were trying to make a sale.
The bid for what was supposed to be what I needed was $60,000. I didn’t go through with it. But if I had, I’m quite sure that it would not have lived up to the expectations that were told to me. Their response would probably have been to tell me I needed to buy more.
In reality, the first step in going off-grid is to find ways of drastically reducing your electric consumption. The less you consume, the less you have to produce. Perhaps even more importantly, the less you have to be able to store in some sort of battery backup system (which can be more expensive than the solar panels themselves).
With lowered electrical consumption, you won’t have to worry about producing and storing as much electricity, making the overall project not only more cost-effective, but more likely to succeed.
The two basic options that people use are wind power and solar power. That’s mostly because those are the only two ways of producing electricity that can be done on a small enough scale, that we can do it at home. Someone who has a stream or river on their property might be able to do hydropower, but few of us have that available to us.
The other big possibility that is discussed is the use of generators. While generators are a good short-term power producer, able to keep you going for a couple of days, if a storm knocks out the power lines, they are expensive to operate for a prolonged period of time. Finding fuel would also become harder and harder as time went on.
As to the question of whether wind or solar should be used, the best answer is both. Neither wind power nor solar power is 100% reliable; they both depend on the weather. If both are used, then the overall system will likely be able to produce some power, even if one or the other isn’t producing anything at the moment. Of course, this assumes that you live in an area where you have both wind and sunlight regularly.
Oh, and make sure you are carrying a Tactical Tomahawk with you.
Letting Your Neighbors In On The Secret
One of the hardest parts of prepping is maintaining your OPSEC (operational security). We don’t want people to know what we are doing, because we don’t want them to come knocking on our doors, expecting us to take care of them, when things go bad. That makes sense from a purely logical point of view, as most of us don’t have enough for both us and them; but it might be a whole lot harder to accomplish in practical terms.
First of all, we may not realize that we’re living through a TEOTWAWKI event. Should some enemy destroy the electrical grid, all we would know at first is that we’re in a power outage. It might take several days, even a couple of weeks for us to be at least fairly sure that it really was an EMP.
So, let’s say there’s a big blizzard and the power goes out. Not an uncommon occurrence. The next day, the neighbor comes over, asking for some help, because the storm hit before they could go buy food. While we can look at them with scorn at their foolishness, we’d probably help them out; right? Three days later, when we find out that the power didn’t just go out in our area, but everywhere else too. We think “EMP;” then we realize that we had already given our neighbor food.
The thing is, that neighbor probably decided to visit your house because they knew you would have food. It’s all but impossible to hide prepping from the neighbors. They’re going to see the things we are doing, no matter how careful we are to hide them. While they may not make the connection that you’re a prepper immediately, they will when they are in need.
What are you going to do then? You’ve already helped them once.
Okay, so let me propose an idea that’s a little contrary to normal prepper wisdom. That is, plan on your neighbors knocking on your door and be prepared to help them. I don’t mean feeding them as well as you feed your own; but have something to give them, even if it is nothing more than rice and beans.
I have several hundred pounds of extra rice, beans, and cooking oil in my stockpile, just for this very purpose. I’ve also got plastic bags, so that I can repackage it, lots of seed, so that I can help my neighbors plant gardens, a rototiller with gas to tear up their yards to make gardens, and even a few spare .22LR rifles.
Should the TEOTWAWKI event we’re all expecting come to pass, one of my first actions, once I’ve secured my own family, is going to be to gather my neighbors together and co-opt them into my survival plan. I’ll offer them rice and beans, water purification, and a few other basics, along with help getting their gardens started. In exchange, I’ll expect them to help me with manual labor, such as hauling water and working one everyone’s gardens. I’ll also expect their help in defending our neighborhood; hence the extra rifles.
Please note that the total cost for doing this really isn’t all that much. Rice and beans are cheap. The most expensive item on that list is the seed for their gardens. But by doing this, I’ve just eliminated the biggest danger I face; that of having my neighbors join together to attack me. I’ve also gained an outer perimeter, helping me defend my home.
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