On our homesteads when dealing with health and hygiene, we try to prepare for gunshot wounds or severe lacerations/cuts. But in so doing, let us not overlook the more mundane killers of mankind while specializing on medical conditions that would prove very difficult to deal with in a grid down situation without medical professionals. I am talking through what is necessary, particularly as we face some of the challenges that confront third world countries now. Let’s move forward.
Yes, Grandma was mostly right in her words about hygiene– “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Keeping one’s body and home clean and pest free preserves health! Do you remember the big porcelain pitchers and bowls found in the bedrooms of old farm houses? A daily “sponge bath” is much more practical in a grid down situation then lugging heated buckets of water to pour in a tub for bathing. If warm washing is required consider the following.
Very little can compare to getting a hot shower after a hard, sweaty day at work. It is really refreshing and humanizing, too. Solar shower bags or stout canvas GI shower bags filled with warm water are great items to have on hand. Don’t forget to stock up on deodorant and “foo-foo juice”. It’s great not only to be clean but to smell clean as well. (This is really important to the wives.)
Plenty of soap, both personal and laundry type, is needed. I have chosen to store up bar soap rather than make it. Although we have the supplies to prepare it, it is just is so much easier and less expensive to obtain it now.
In order to maximize the useful life of our personal bar soap, we dip the bars in paraffin (or melted crayons) after letting them dry out for a week or so. Drying the bars extends the useful life. Notice how the manufacturers package them in waterproof wrapping to stay moist and soft so they melt faster when they are used. More of the soap is lost from melting rather than actual use in bathing. Trim the wax coating off the bar to expose the smallest side of the soap surface. Use this side to rub on body or washcloth meanwhile protecting the rest of the bar from melting. This way each bar will last for months and months of daily use. I personally would recommend antibacterial soap for grid down times, as standing rainwater or pond water will have biological contamination in it.
We all know that dry powdered items store much longer than their liquid counterparts. As a kid, we had Dr. Lyon’s toothpowder in the medicine cabinet. It was an old metal tin then, but it still worked great. Dr. Lyon’s has long gone, but Colgate still makes a toothpowder for overseas markets, and it is available on amazon. Sure you can always use salt/soda, but isn’t it nice to use a familiar brand that tastes great and has a long shelf life! Also stock up on toothbrushes. A case of 144 inexpensive ones on amazon runs $11.56! Get some floss, too.
My wife is my barber! We have the scissors, apron, combs, et cetera for her to do our family’s hair care. It would be advantageous to get a manual (non-electric) hair clipper if you desire that type of trim like the WW2 army barbers had. They are available on ebay. My wife does the cutting with just scissors from the beauty supply house, and she does a wonderful job. You may want to stock up on VO5, Brylcreem, or even Vaseline for the gents. Since we may not have hot water for daily bathing, the grease/oil in the hair emollients helps control insect pests as it helps suffocate them and make it harder for lice to attach the eggs to hair shafts.
The sailors of old used to shave their heads or coat them with coal tar or pine turpentine/tar, hence the term “tarheads”, as it kills the lice. Coal tar and pine tar soaps/shampoos are available for head lice control. Use of olive oil or vegetable oil in 15 min soakings have also proven effective and much safer to use in children. Use for two days in a row and use nit comb.
Speaking of sailors or “limeys”, as the British sailors were called due to their onboard store of limes to prevent scurvy, I wanted to make sure we had an adequate supply of vitamin C. Sure, we have the vitamin pills stored, but I wanted an unlimited, renewable supply of vitamin C. I tried to grow pineapples, oranges, lemons, limes, and even Calamondin and Moringa with only limited success. I couldn’t get a year’s supply of Vitamin C from five large lemons grown in a container. I finally realized that I was surrounded with a limitless source of natural Vitamin C growing wild on my land in the form of pine needle tea. Everyone should purchase an edible plant book covering their specific locale. Sometimes we can’t see the trees through the forest!
We are blessed to be on an old fashioned septic system on the ranch, but everyone still needs to clean up after business. I stockpiled cases of large coreless Scott 07006 2-ply TP rolls purchased off craigslist at over half off and a couple of dispensers for them. Each of these large coreless rolls lasts about 45 days. So just one case will last about a year and a half for one person. In addition, we have a case of peri bottles that act as mini bidets. You spritz yourself clean and use minimal paper product to dry. I don’t relish using phonebooks, leaves, or corncobs if I don’t have to.
Yes, I plan to purchase a safety razor with replaceable blades like Dad used for shaving. For now, my primary razor after the disposables run out is the last-a-lifetime Rolls Razor that Grandpa had. This cool little gizmo hones and strops the blade in its own holder and then slips on the handle for shaving use. The blade is thick but sharpens to an unbelievable edge. These razors are intimidating and are akin to using a small controlled straight-edged razor. I could always get a straight razor and long strops or use a K-bar, but those would probably be more dangerous in my hands than the Rolls. Check out the YouTube videos on the fascinating Rolls Razor.
Hands and Feet
Be sure to have plenty of good quality socks, foot ware, and gloves to care for your hands and feet. Wool socks are wonderful. Just get plenty of good quality boots, socks, underwear, and gloves. Most of us have lived the soft life and our hands and feet are not toughened up enough like our forefathers or in the third world. Be sure and have nail trimmers for fingers and toes. Do not bite your nails and pull into the quick! You can’t afford to have infected, ingrown toenails or open sores on your fingers working in the dirt. Personal hygiene is essential for health.
The little robot vacuums may be the rage today, but how many of us purchased a non-electric Hokey sweeper to clean up the carpets or floors from dirt and debris? While not nearly as efficient as your $400 electric Dyson vacuum, thousands of restaurants are quickly and quietly cleaned with these little devices daily. Also, for floor care cleaning please purchase spare mop heads and brooms too.
Insect Vector Control
For insect vector control, make sure you have screens placed on your windows, as you will have to use them. With modern air conditioning, fewer and fewer families open the windows and air out their homes, especially in the South. Surely no one wants flies in the food or mosquitoes buzzing at them all night long. Likewise, some flea spray, pesticide, bug killer, and rodent baits/traps are essential preps to protect food, grain storage, and family. Stocking Sevin Dust and also stocking some fertilizer for gardens is practical to maximize garden yields.
Growing up, my parents stressed living a life of learning. Reading a book or attending a seminar was profitable, as long as you gained at least one pearl of knowledge from it. Truly my mom spent her life stringing pearls of wisdom to adorn her. It is my hope that you found a few “gems” in this article.
Even though health and hygiene is not an action-packed survival topic, consider this. How many of us have ever been shot? How many of us have been through nuclear war? Well, not yet. Then think how many of you or your family have had a case of food poisoning with severe vomiting and diarrhea? How about those who have had a chest cold or an infected lesion. Almost all of us have had those experiences! So prepare for the exotic events, but not at the expense of that which is most likely to come your way. Be prepared!
I know you all know this but in this day of litigation please realize that all medical information given is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. For actual use and dosing please consult the Physician’s Desk Reference or online medical sources. Never take any medication that was not prescribed specifically for you by your medical provider. All fish or veterinary medications are not fit for human consumption (even though they may be identical). Do your own research as your mileage may vary.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.