UK Emergency Preparedness: hygiene and emergency sanitation

So, you have hygiene covered in your emergency grab bag and your shelter-in-place kit.  You know about water purification and can tick all those boxes in your personal emergency preparedness plan. That’s great …. but actually not quite good enough aka not quite right, a familiar ‘Goldilocks’ reference for those that are regular visitors to this blog.

Let’s take a closer look. Hygiene and sanitation during emergencies or disasters have been in the news (again!) lately. Abigail Brown asks the right question:

.. and here is why this is important: flood waters carry and then deposit dangerous bacteria and toxic chemicals

tragically, for some, these problem can seem never ending and, unbelievably, it’s not just a developing world problem

https://twitter.com/ALT_uscis/status/907807813476515842

Contamination raises very serious concerns:

Now you may think these things don’t happen ‘at home’ here in the UK. Cholera (and typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea…illnesses from molds)  is a threat of the past in the UK you may say. In that case I recommend you take a closer look at Cholera and the Thames so brilliantly put together by Westminster Archives with the help of interns and volunteers.  Back when and I quote “Bazalgette’s foresight provided a sewage system that has served London well up to now. Today, however, the system is struggling to cope with the demands of 21st century London.” And that’s in good times, not during an emergency or disaster such as security threats, serious storms and flooding.

Listen to Mary Dhonau, she has been there, she knows:

Now, while the best sanitation system does not exist (do explore that link!) it does not mean that household preparedness is powerless. On the contrary. It is crucial that households are better prepared precisely so that there is less of an overall impact when an emergency or disaster occurs.

Household preparedness for emergency sanitation is easy

US Homeland Security News has some of the best advice online while the CDC compares immediate term sanitation solutions. In summary:

  • water flush toilets cannot be used when water service is interrupted
  • do not flush toilets or dig holes; untreated raw sewage is a serious health hazard
  • store a large supply of different size heavy-duty plastic bags (min 1 bag per person per day), disinfectant, toilet paper
  • consider portable camp toilets, small trashcans or sturdy buckets with tight fitting lids lined with heavy duty plastic bags are an alternative
  • safe disposal; wait for collections and/or instructions of the authorities

All the above applies during emergencies and disasters but also in their aftermath. Recovery can take (a lot of!) time depending on the severity. Cleaning up safely is hugely important and will be covered in another blog. For now I wanted to share this tweet from the NYtimes which has a useful summary so check out their article and further resources links:

Why am I writing about all this? Well, because from where I stand I see UK households woefully unprepared and that’s why the topic ‘hygiene’ in this year’s 30days30waysUK campaign #prep2017day20 has been expanded to include emergency sanitation for household preparedness.

September is Preparedness Month is now in full swing. 30days30waysUK is a brilliant FREE campaign on twitter and facebook you can join anytime. Check it out!

Be #prepared – not scared:  #WinterReady

Have a great week!

Be prepared, not scared.

Monika
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5 thoughts on “UK Emergency Preparedness: hygiene and emergency sanitation

  1. James Ediny

    Thanks for closing the gaps and talking about emergency sanitation and hygiene. More people need to be informed.

  2. Sandy

    About time this is being discussed here in the UK.
    Excellent #30days30ways campaign btw. Love following here and there as I have time. Don’t stop – ever!! We need this.

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