If all the threats to safety a prepper may face, one of the most insidious and frightening is that posed by viruses and bacteria on a massive scale. Unforeseen, invisible, unforgiving and difficult to defend against, a widespread, transcontinental outbreak, or pandemic, is a nightmare brought to life.
You should know that pandemics, when compared to other “doomsday” scenarios, are shockingly common, and very, very good at wiping out humanity where they take hold.
A quick history lesson will provide ample and gruesome evidence of germ-borne mass death all throughout our time on earth. Sobering and chilling stuff, to be sure.
Is there anything you can do to stop the silent, invisible onslaught of these microscopic killers?
The answer is yes, and in this article we’ll be taking a deep dive into the lurking threat posed by potential pandemics, and give you the tools and knowledge you need to keep your family and yourself free from infection and a slow, hideous death.
What Exactly Are We Dealing With?
A pandemic is a widespread, rapidly spreading outbreak of infectious disease that crosses international borders. Pandemics can of course strike humans, but can also affect animals and plant life.
Pandemics affecting animals, especially mammals, rate special concern as it is often viruses that infect other mammals that will jump the gap to humans.
The most important classifying characteristic of a pandemic is that the disease must be infectious. For instance, heart disease, though lethal, widespread and responsible for a great number of deaths, is not considered a pandemic, as it is not infectious and transmissible.
Something like the infamous and legendarily heinous outbreak of the Black Death in the 14th century is a classic pandemic in all respects.
In practical terms, a pandemic infects and re-transmits itself quickly, and will burn through densely inhabited areas like wildfire.
Depending on the effects of the disease, this could mean widespread inconvenience and sick days or apocalyptic death tolls.
It is hard to say what form and what symptoms the next big pandemic will take: though groups like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) carefully monitor any reported upstart and especially virulent diseases, there are severe bugs, known and unknown, waiting for a vector to carry them into the heart of civilization.
All of the countermeasures and preparedness tips presented in this article come from the published guidelines recommended by either the CDC or WHO.
There is no conjecture or speculation on my part throughout. Dealing with something that you cannot see, but can sicken or kill you with all the vicious malevolence of a demon is no time for homebrew preventatives or fantastic theory.
Oh boy, if you needed some nightmare fuel to keep you awake at night look no further than historic accounts of pandemics.
Some of the examples you’ll recognize, others will be new to you, but all are a terrible testament to the power of viruses and bacteria. Even worse, some pandemics rage across the globe as of the time of this article’s writing.
The following are just a few choice selections from the pantheon of pandemic death-dealers:
The Black Death, Yersinia pestis, 1338-1350
- Death Toll: Est. 75 to 200 million.
The Black Death is synonymous with plague, and while historical accounts and records are spotty, jumbled and exceedingly difficult to collate, many historians believe this singular pandemic to be responsible for 50% of Europe’s population dying.
Thought to have originated from rat fleas carried back by Western merchants in Asia.
Symptoms include buboes about the neck, under the arms and, ugh, on the groin which discharged pus and blood.
These progressed into black spots, and subsequently raging fever and vomiting of blood. Isolated cases of the Black Death persist today. Sleep tight.
Third Asiatic Cholera Pandemic, Vibrio cholera, 1846-1860,
- Death Toll: Unknown, estimated over 1.5 million.
Cholera is a persistent disease throughout history, and has struck more pandemics upon the world than other, lesser diseases. Seven major outbreaks throughout last 200 years leveled populations across the world with ghastly rapidity. Typical vectors are contaminated food and water.
This bacterium causes severe and watery diarrhea, along with bad cramping and vomiting.
Rapid onset of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is a major threat, lethality of severe untreated cases approaches 50%
Can be countered with antibiotics and good hygiene practices. Rare in the modern world, but remains a threat in less- or undeveloped nations.
Spanish Flu Pandemic, H1N1 Influenza virus, 1918-1920, Death Toll: 50-100 million.
A surprisingly virulent and deadly strain of the flu came and went in only 18 months, leaving 3-5% of the world’s population dead in its wake. Often cited as the worst medical holocaust in history.
Unlike typical flu strains which often kill the young, infirm or old, this nasty variant readily killed young and healthy adults.
Symptoms were unusual for a flu virus, and commonly resulted in misdiagnosis early on. Mucous membrane hemorrhages were commonplace, and secondary pneumonia contributed to the lethality of this strain.
Take heed: the rapid mutation of viruses can easily result in a shockingly lethal and hard to contain bug without any warning.
HIV/AIDS Pandemic, human immunodeficiency virus, peak 2005-2013, ongoing today
- Death Toll: 35 million
Currently ravaging Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South-East Asia, HIV/AIDS is a reliable if slow killer, and spreads readily from sexual intercourse, dirty needles, and from intravenous transfusion of infected blood supplies.
Many carriers do not know they are infected and show no symptoms. There are over 1 million infected in the U.S. Without treatment, life expectancy is about a decade. There is no known cure.
Symptoms are initially flu-like, and will progress to swollen lymph nodes, weight loss and high fever. Death usually results from opportunistic infection from lesser germs thanks to a compromised immune system. Viral-induced cancers are an additional risk.
Stages of a Pandemic
The WHO has developed a global preparedness plan that outlines the phases of a pandemic, including behavior of germs prior to the onset of the pandemic proper.
This prior phase is called the interpandemic period, where the phase immediately before its onset is called the pandemic alert phase, meaning conditions for a pandemic to begin are ideal.
This WHO phases are classified specifically for influenza, but apply readily to other germs as well.
Phase 1: No new flu subtypes detected in humans. Subtype that causes human infection may be present in animals, but risk of human infection is considered low.
Phase 2: No new flu subtypes detected in humans. However, a circulating animal-borne subtype does pose a significant risk to humans.
Pandemic Alert Period
Phase 3: Humans infected with new subtype, but no person-to-person spread, or very rare spread from close contact.
Phase 4: Small outbreaks with limited person-to-person transmission. Still very localized, or not well-adapted to humans.
Phase 5: Larger outbreaks, still localized. Virus is probably adapting better to humans, but not yet fully transmissible.
Phase 6: Pandemic- transmission between general population is increased and sustained.
What Options do I have for Defense?
Germs are scary; utterly silent, completely invisible, and able to multiply and transmit from a host who is showing no signs or symptoms. Inducing paranoia in people is only a happy accident of their pathology.
While you may not be able to spot germs, scare them away or shoot them, you can thwart them with strict discipline and adherence to stringent hygiene and sanitary protocols.
You should be rigorously following these protocols at all times, not just when you see authorities warning of an outbreak on the news.
Should that occur, however, you will want to go to “war-posture” in the fight against the bacterial or viral menace; redouble your efforts, and take no chances. There is no such thing as too clean and sanitary.
The following procedures are taken directly from the CDC guidelines. I have added my own commentary in addition.
Mission: Limit spread of germs, prevent infection.
#1: Avoid close contact with the sick. The chances of picking up germs from their body fluid discharges or off of their immediate surroundings are too great. Keep a wide berth from all sick people and areas they inhabit. If you must go into public areas, assume everything is contaminated.
#2: Keep your distance from others if you are sick. You have a responsibility to not spread the infection if at all possible. Quarantine yourself for the good of all.
#3: Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. With a cloth or tissue if possible. This will limit the transmission of germs and help keep those around you from getting sick.
#4: Wash your hands frequently! This will help protect you from infection by clearing germs from your hands, thus preventing their spread to vulnerable parts of your anatomy or to other surfaces which may then infect others.
#5: Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Stop! This requires attention and discipline, but it must be done. All of the above parts of your body are highly vulnerable to invading microbes.
If you wipe your eyes, pick your nose or scratch your lip you could become infected easily. Even when you have decontaminated and rinsed your hands, make it a point to leave your face alone!
#6: Practice good health. Adequate sleep, physical activity, proper hydration and nutritious food are all immune system-boosting steps that will help your body deal with invaders.
As bad as a super-germ may be, it will have a far easier time slaying someone who is already unhealthy than it will a prime physical specimen.
#7: Regularly disinfect surfaces in your home. Especially ones that are used for food prep and hygiene tasks.
Use a cleaner that has known antiseptic qualities in the recommended strength and leave it on the surface being cleaned for the proscribed amount of time before wiping down. Germs can survive longer than you think.
What Should I Do to Endure a Pandemic?
Even if you are in an area with no cases, keep in mind it only takes one infected person rolling through town, perhaps stopping for gas and opening the door to the mini-mart with a bug-ridden hand to leave behind a clump of germs that will sicken and kill you and your neighbors.
If a pandemic is underway anywhere in your country or region, assume it is already present in your area and enact your prevention procedures.
A single confirmed case in your immediate or neighboring area should be cause enough to button-up if the germ is highly lethal.
As always, preparation is key. Assuming you are not infected when things start to get really bad in your area, your best bet is to shut yourself and your family in for the duration if at all possible.
To do this you will need a supply of provisions including staples like water, food, medicine (including prescription drugs) and the like.
No surprises there. You may also want to stock up on lightweight masks to cover your nose and mouth when in public.
Pandemic specific preps will include obtaining copies of all health records, prescriptions and other important health records for you and your entire group and keeping copies in triplicate both on paper and electronically.
These may become vitally important to treatment or prevention and having them close at hand could prove crucial.
Padding your stockpiles of cold/flu, cough, fever-reducer, pain, anti-diarrhea and nausea meds as well as electrolyte replacement powder or fluid will be necessary to help deal with symptoms should become infected and cannot get to higher level care.
Many bugs feature diarrhea and vomiting as common symptoms and you will want to be prepared to combat the dehydration they cause.
You will also want to prepare for the possibility of quarantining an infected family member or even yourself, either in home or at a designated location and discussing contingency planning and/or care should it occur.
If a pandemic is severe enough that it begins to strain society and order to its breaking point, you can expect the usually lawlessness that occurs after any major disaster where authority is scarce to take place, though this will likely be dampened by fears of infection among the brigands.
Standard security and safety measures apply: have a weapon, flashlights and a plan for dealing with any intruders. Decide ahead of time if you will risk breaking quarantine or infection to help those in need.
It is grisly, but you should have a plan for dealing with possible contamination sources resulting from spilled blood or other organic matter in the event that no authorities are available or able to respond.
Bleach, absorbent media, thick disposable gloves, and N95 respiratory masks are mandatory in this scenario.
Ready To Prep?
A lethal pandemic is one of the scariest, and unfortunately one of the most plausible crisis scenarios a prepper could encounter today.
Germs are impossible to detect outside a lab setting, and afford no time to react or counter when exposed if protective measures are not already in place and best practices followed.
Luckily today, we are likely to have some warning when a pandemic is looming or likely, so study up now so that you will be able to respond quickly and decisively when that occurs.
With a little luck, you and yours can ride out the pestilence with nary a runny nose.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.
8 thoughts on “Pandemic Survival 101”
My Thoughts On:
Sanitation, Waste Disposal, Medical Isolation & Death In The PAW
By Jerry D Young
This article contains my thoughts on several related subjects. Lack of some can cause the others, or make them much worse.
Part #1 – Sanitation options:
Sometimes sanitation can be a difficult subject to discuss. I believe it is one of the top subjects that needs to be discussed, especially when it comes to a group that might just be in close quarters at some point it time. If everyone knows and understands the basics, the ins-and-outs, the nuances, and especially the absolute needs, life will be much less unpleasant, less smelly, and definitely safer from a medical standpoint.
Sanitation covers several different, but related subjects. The first one I want to hit is personal sanitation. That is where it starts, especially health wise. One must keep oneself as clean as the conditions allow. And preparations should be made well before hand to make this as easy as possible.
If there is a working water supply and working sewer system this generally just means being a bit conservative with the supplies, but maintaining a daily or every other day body cleansing. Hands have to be washed and/or sanitized after any contact with anything that can harbor infectious or otherwise dangerous organisms or materials. Even if gloves were worn during the handling, wash or sanitize the hands after removing the gloves. And no matter how short a time period since the last hand washing, wash them before and during any food handling process.
While I suspect everyone reading this keeps themselves quite clean, including during bathroom visits, it is critical that this personal cleansing process is kept up, and even enhanced, if possible. The last thing anyone wants is to get a communicable disease from someone’s clothing that did not bother to make sure they were clean when they left the bathroom or latrine.
If hair can be kept protected with a hat, scarf, hood, or even just keeping it tied up if long, that will go a long way toward conserving supplies, as the hair can usually go two or three days easily without washing unless there is a specific need for it. And hair washing is one of the things that can be done without water fairly easily, fortunately, if you have the right materials. I will address this later.
Fingernails should be kept short and clean, and if there is any propensity to have dry hands, a good hydrating lotion should be used to protect the hands in general, but to also reduce the chances of dry cracks developing on the hands and fingers.
The same goes for toenails. One might not think that toe nail clippers and nippers are a survival tool, but long toe nails can cause cuts on your own feet or others if working closely without shoes and socks for some reason, such as gathering cattail roots with bare feet.
And, like the lotion for hands, some lotion for the feet is a good idea. But so are antibiotic soaps and antifungal creams to keep down the risk of infections that could be debilitating if they get bad enough to interfere with travel. A good foot powder and lots of clean, dry socks are also recommended for keeping the feet clean and dry when in the field. This may not sound like sanitation, but it falls under preventative measures to reduce sanitation needs.
Having plenty of disposable dust/clinical masks, or, preferably, plenty of appropriate washable masks will go a long way to preventing the spread of infections if everyone, including the infected person, begins to wear them as soon as the conditions exist that someone may be coming down with something
The same goes for having a good supply of hand sanitizer, and using hand sanitizer is another good reason to keep and use hand lotions, as many of the sanitizers will really dry out the hands with constant use.
If water or sewer facilities are limited there are some alternative methods that will work.
For hand and dish washing a couple plastic wash pans, two or three 1-gallon Sno-cone syrup bottles with HD pumps, and cold water dish detergent and a good hand soap will work. Good hand bar soaps to store are Ivory for basic bathing and cleanliness; Lava for the tough work hand cleaning; and the antimicrobial Dial for the constant hand washing to keep down the risk of infections.
If you lose water pressure, but the sewer still works on gravity (not likely in any city), you can often flush a toilet with ½ to 1/3 of a 5 gallon bucket of water. If you have it. If not, go to the alternatives.
Bucket toilets, latrines, etc., third tier preps, are needed, but chemical toilets are my first line after regular toilets. And there are the gelling type chemical toilets that use bags with a substance that jells the liquid and de-odorizes the waste. There are standalone models and at least one system used by hanging it in the regular toilet bowl. The bags are used, then sealed and can be put in regular trash or buried if the dumpsters are already full.
Toilet waste storage totes for chemical toilets at RV stores and some larger sporting goods stores. At a home, buckets can be used, but due to the difficulties in getting things up and down and in and out of apartments, the rolling totes are a big help, and useful everywhere.
Get another one or two for gray water storage. If the toilet is not working, the other drains are not either. The grey water can be used to flush the toilet, if it is still working.
The totes or the chemical toilet can be dumped into a nearby working sewer, an RV park dump station, or any pit toilet in a park. Otherwise it will need to be buried. Have the tools to do so. A shovel at least, and preferably a pick as well around here. If you do not want or do not have room for, full size tools, get a Cold Steel Special Forces shovel, and a Duraworx planting tool (or any other short handled, compact pick-mattock). Scout out good places to dump or bury the waste before something happens. You do not want to be taking time looking around for an appropriate spot during a crisis.
There are additional ideas on human waste disposal below.
TP replacements: If the TP has run out and you are using re-usable cloth replacements such as red shop towels or custom personal marked/colored cloth squares, or are using cloth diapers, keep the soiled ones in stainless steel step cans. You can use a separate set of plastic buckets, or, my preference, 2 large steel stock pots (washing & rinsing), using stainless steel tongs (washing & rinsing) to handle the soiled items and again while rinsing. 2 Mobile washer plungers (kept labeled) (washing & rinsing), a mop bucket mop wringer, several boxes of lined nitrile long gauntlet gloves and the same selection of washing soaps and bleach will get them clean and sanitized.
These items will allow for the use of individual personal wipe cloths and cloth diapers. Wash them, rinse them, wring them, and hang them in the sun for final sanitation. Keep things separate for each stage.
Any way you look at it, washing clothes takes a lot of water. Brush and air out outer clothing to minimize the need for washing. If you have a clothes line, and a clothes beater, you can do a pretty decent job on even large, heavy coats, blankets, and quilts this way. And smaller items can then be washed as below.
Normally, when you do need to wash clothes, do small batches regularly, rather than wait and try to do a lot at once.
Use appropriate clothes washing soaps or combinations.
Fels-Naphtha clothes washing soap. Shave the bar and mix with some warm water to melt.
Borax deodorizes, prevents mold and mildew, and removes stains
Washing soda (sodium carbonate decahydrate) removes grease
There are also environment friendly liquid cold water detergents
Calcium hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite can be stored to make bleach for whites
Still available at times are gasoline engine Maytag wringer washers, that if carefully restored might be an option at a home or in a group setting. (You will want really good mufflers.) The same can be said for using a large cast iron caldron to heat water outside with wood or coal to provide the hot water for doing large batches of laundry for a group, or just several loads for a large family.
A Mobile washer plunger (one just for clothing) with two or three 5 to 6 gallon buckets, is probably the easiest, most compact, and minimum water use method of washing clothes. I much favor it to scrub boards, though having a scrub board for really difficult, ground in dirt situations is useful, especially if you do not have a US Navy Destroyer to tow your laundry bag behind to pre-clean.
If water cannot be heated, even to lukewarm levels, using tongs and gloves will help protect the hands from the cold water.
Do the least dirty items first, so you can reuse the first wash water again. Then start using the previous load rinse water for the next load wash water. You can really conserve water this way, and if the worst of the dirty clothes have been pre-treated by brushing or beating, and then the worst of any remaining grime treated with direct application of laundry soap and a few strokes on the washboard, even that last load should come out okay.
You could even mount a hand ringer to a third bucket or a tub to get more of the water out before you hang dry the clothing. (If you do use a wringer, even a manual, be very careful of getting body parts caught in it. I still carry the scars of getting the fingers of my left hand in a wringer that split my hand apart to the palm between my first and middle finger when I was two or three years old.)
An alternative to a regular clothing washer wringer is a mop bucket wringer. Not quite as good, but definitely better than hand wringing. You can even get one of the larger mop buckets with a wringer and use it as your final rinse container.
For drying, one can string a line over the tub, even if the drain does not work, to dry the clothes. And there are folding racks that can be set up in a tub or shower, or if the clothes are wrung fairly dry so they do not drip, near a heat source to dry faster. If drying in the bathroom, leave the bathroom door open if possible for more air circulation.
Or clothes can be hung on an outside clothesline if the situation is secure enough, and you have one set up, the components to install one, or one of the clothes line alternates like a rotating unit, and the conditions permit. And if the sun is shining that is just one additional element of sanitizing the clothes, plus the wind and sunshine make them smell pretty good, and soften them, too, without the need for artificial softener sheets.
Store regular clothesline line and cable. Almost any cordage will work, but not all of it works anywhere as near as well as purpose made line. Have sturdy posts, and plan to guy them, at least straight away, and preferably at two angles, especially if you use T-bar arms with multiple clotheslines. Use wire cable as guys, and quality cable clamps. The stakes should also be very good ones, and long. Might even have to double stake the guys. Wet clothing is heavy, and if the clotheslines are long, those items in the middle of the line put a huge strain on the system.
Go ahead and get prop poles made up and ready. You are going to need them at some point. These will keep larger items from dragging the ground, as well as helping lessen the movement of the clotheslines when the winds are heavy.
If hanging outside, use good clothes pins. And have either a clothes pin bucket hanging on the line, or wear a laundry apron with clothes pin pockets. Keeping up with clothespins without one or the other is a real pain. I speak from experience.
In wet weather hanging inside is usually best. In cool temperatures, but dry, the clothing will still dry on an outside line. In freezing weather, medium to heavy weight clothes can be hung outside and allowed to freeze. When frozen, the clothes are beaten, gently, with a clothes beater or broom, to break the ice away. Only slight additional drying inside will have the clothes ready to go.
If the TP has run out and you are using re-usable cloth replacements such as red shop towels or custom personal marked/colored cloth squares, or are using cloth diapers, keep the soiled ones in stainless steel step cans. You can use a separate set of plastic buckets, or, my preference, 2 large steel stock pots (washing & rinsing), using stainless steel tongs (washing & rinsing) to handle the soiled items and again while rinsing. 2 Mobile washer plungers (kept labeled) (washing & rinsing), a mop bucket mop wringer, several boxes of lined nitrile long gauntlet gloves and the same selection of washing soaps and bleach will get them clean and sanitized.
These items will allow for the use of individual personal wipe cloths and cloth diapers. Wash them, rinse them, wring them, and hang them in the sun for final sanitation. Keep things separate for each stage.
The original James washer was a decent product, though made with some pretty old technology. The newer version that came out a few years ago definitely had some quality issues. But Lehman’s makes a redesigned version that looks pretty good.
And, of course, some types of more modern clothes washers can be converted to jack-shaft power, or powered by a bicycle type set up. Plus, there are some modern alternatives to the classic washing machine, such as some of the table top models. I do not have much experience with these, so cannot give a solid endorsement of any of them.
You can use one of the smaller MSR Dromedary water bladders w/shower attachment – a lot tougher than the plastic Sun Shower bags, for showers. Do not have to heat in sun, though can be, can use comfortable temperature fire heated water. Do not use in the tub or shower if the drains are not working or there is a water bob in place. Instead set up a privacy enclosure in the garage if it will drain to the street. Or build a collection basin you can attach a hose to for directing the water where you want it. To the street, yard, or garden. Push comes to shove, find a place outside that is private, or have a privacy shelter where showers can be taken and the water drain to somewhere safe.
However, with that said, it might be possible to stopper the tub and use either a siphon hose or a small 12v marine bilge pump (if you have an indoor 12v system) to get the water to a waste water tote or outside. Can do the same with a blow-up kiddie pool.
If you do shower, take a Navy shower where you wet down, turn off the water, soap/shampoo up, and then turn the water back on to rinse.
It is probably best to do a sponge bath with a container of water that can be emptied into a liquid waste tote.
If water is at a high premium, the use of baking soda, clean mortar sand, bentonite clay, clean saw dust, corn meal, and corn starch can be used dry to clean the hands, body, and hair. For the hands and feet, rub the items onto the skin firmly, and then brush off with a stiff brush and finally with a soft brush.
Do the body the same way, being a bit more gentle in certain parts of the body. Save the conventional methods for the sensitive areas. For the hair and beard, work the dry products into the hair down into she skin. Shake out and then brush thoroughly. After a bit of practice, you will get the feeling for how much of each item you need, and which product works best for what areas. Be sparing, but stocking the dry ingredients is much cheaper and less space hogging than water.
Also, for bathing, clean, dry sand can be used to remove much of the grime on the body, especially the hands, when heavy work has been the norm for the day. (Washed and screen mortar sand works well for this.)
Then, if still sweaty or with other oils on the body, powdered bentonite clay can be rubbed on the body and then toweled off to get rid of those residues. Do not overuse the bentonite on the body as it will strip all the surface oils, even the necessary ones. Just enough to get rid of sweat and any contaminated oils.
The powdered bentonite is also a very good dry hair cleaner, for the same reasons. Sprinkle in on, rub it in, and brush it out. It will take the smells and oils from the hair without using water. Again, use only enough to do the job. Hair does need some natural oils.
And whatever you do, if using bentonite for bathing, DO NOT GET IT WET AT ALL! Bentonite, for all its usefulness as a human cleanser, gets super slimy when wet, the reason it is used as drilling mud and pond sealer. Just an FYI: Medical grade bentonite powder can be ingested in times of radiation problems to absorb and pass through the body radioactive isotopes that might be ingested by accident. Ditto if heavy metals cannot be removed from drinking water, taking a bit of bentonite powder will draw these and help pass them through the body, as well.
As always, check things out yourself by doing due diligence research. Never take my word for anything without checking alternate sources.
Moving on to living space sanitation. Another case of people probably keep a very clean, sanitary house. But in times of trouble, when cleaning time might be short, compared to all the other things that must be done, it is as important, if not more so, to keep surfaces that people touch often clean and sanitized, as there probably will not be an opportunity to get someone to a medical facility capable of treating something they picked up off the counter top, door knob, faucets, and so on.
Keep the place as clean as possible, even if just using a broom on both flat and carpeted floors, and a sponge type mop for hard floors. Wipe things down with disinfecting solutions often. Bag trash immediately and secure it tightly for later disposal. There are some great cleaning products out there, but do not discount the basics like plain bleach, vinegar, ammonia, lemon juice, and the other staples that can be found in any good house cleaning hints book. Stock up the ingredients needed to make your own soaps, detergents, and other cleaners, and the equipment, and recipes to produce them.
Have plenty of effective surface cleansers on hand, and use them often, especially the areas one might not think of too often, that people do touch regularly, such as those already listed and others.
Keep the kitchen area, whether it be in your home or out in the field, all of it, clean to the point some might think you have OCD.
Store large amounts of simple homemade cleaner ingredients. Baking soda, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, washing soda, Borax, mild dish detergent [castile soap], cream of tartar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, sodium percarbonate, salt, corn starch, calcium hypochlorite (to make bleach), and olive oil.
Part #2 – Waste Disposal:
If the sewer and drain systems are not working, alternative means must be found to dispose of what water is used for cleaning. Do not just dump it willy nilly outside. Determine an area where the water can spread out and soak into the ground at all possible, without pooling up. Try to find several alternate areas meeting the same criteria and rotate their use.
Remember that some of this water will have some fairly harsh chemicals in it and might need to be disposed of in yet another location where it cannot damage plants and animals, or contaminate water sources. It might come down to actually digging a pit and putting the water in it to contain it in a smaller area.
This is a good place to address some creepy crawly type pests. Disposing of water on the surface can draw several types of insects, many of them detrimental to human health and wellbeing. Wasps, yellow jackets, bees, and mosquitos are just some of them. So be prepared with traps and other means to eliminate and otherwise control these bugs both outside and inside the house.
Solid waste and trash can draw larger pests such as mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, feral cats and dogs, and wild animals such as coyotes can become a serious problem. It is not just the sanitation factor with mice and rat dropping, it includes the diseases that some of the animals carry, including flea and tick-borne diseases.
Keep empty cans and other containers separated and contained in animal and insect proof containers. Your basic trash bag will not cut it on its own. You need to be able to dispose of those bags of things in larger containers that are rodent and pest proof, or burn, or bury them.
The burning can draw some attention, you might not want. Just pinpointing your location for one, giving away what and how much you have been eating is another.
Burning, crushing, and burying cans and such is probably the best way. Especially if you are set up for it. Not just to reduce the chance of a fire spreading, but the use of a purpose-built incinerator can quicken the burn process, and since accelerants can be safely used, the fire can burn hotter and therefor reduce smoke and smells coming from the vent stack.
If you have the means to then crush the metal, break the glass, and still contain it someway, it can be buried without taking up nearly as much space. In any case, keep these bulkier items away from the living quarters.
So, traps, snares, appropriate chemicals, sound and vibration systems, and other means can be used to control the bigger beasties. Try to find natural ways to eliminate them if at all possible. There are several books available on the subject.
Now, to the nitty gritty. More information on human waste sanitation. This is vital to health and wellbeing, especially during a disaster of some type. Whether you can bug-in at home, or must bug out to the field, you will need to address this. Even if bugging-out to a place with facilities, you still have to get there, and unless it is a very short trip, and no delays enroute, chances are someone will have to go to the bathroom.
All the cautions already stated apply, even in this difficult situation. Cleanliness is paramount. But how do you do that?
Well, if you can bug in, but the sewer system is not functional, there are several pretty decent alternatives. My preferred one is a more or less standard camper’s chemical flush toilet, with a waste tote or two to store the waste if more than one filling is needed. Lay in large stocks of the toilet chemicals.
Second, that I know many people plan on using, is a bucket toilet, with a homemade or commercial toilet seat on it. These require materials to cover the waste after each use, and some type of odor control.
If the possibility exists, installing an outhouse now could be an option. Even if not, if there is space, having the materials ready to assemble one, if it looks like it could be a long event, should be considered. An outhouse does not need to be dirty, cold/hot, and nasty. I have seen some as nice (or nicer in a couple of instances) as some indoor bathrooms. With solar energy and good batteries, LED lighting, and battery fans they can be well lit, and well ventilated. Small propane heaters can be added, and ventilation fans for summer. (Yes, the one outhouse was air conditioned.)
Push comes to shove, an outdoor latrine might need to be dug or created. This is way down on my list of options, for a variety of reasons.
If you can find quicklime, it will help with odors. But it is dangerous stuff. You do not want children handling it.
A very effective, but rather costly, method of urine capture is liquid absorbent travel urinals. Most are designed for both men and women, and several are set up so children can use them effectively. The urine gels, and the bag is sealed and disposed of later. These are especially good for travel.
But, when you gotta go, you gotta go. And that means solid wastes. Well, there are the same type of absorbent bags for solid waste. These are much bulkier and much more expensive. The particular brand I have can be used with a regular toilet bowl, a bucket, or a purpose-built commode chair. Again, due to the expense, some of the other methods are preferable to these, but for travel, they are a very good choice. And those that are pretty squeamish about human waste and prefer not to deal with it much, these are a good choice as you do your business, zip up the bag, and put it in the waste container for later disposal.
Which brings me to the disposal part. First, some cautions and a tool list. Be extremely careful when you are handling human waste. It is nasty in and of itself. And the diseases it can harbor are truly horrific. So. When it comes time to handle any human waste, for any reason, make sure you have some sort of lightweight coverall on, have hair covered or tied back, wear goggles, wear a dust mask, wear durable exam gloves, plus a pair of inexpensive jersey gloves to wear over the exam gloves, that can be sanitized.
The dust mask will not do much for the odors, but if you do not have a respirator and plenty of cartridges, it is better than nothing. Its main purpose is to keep any splash or spill from coming into contact with the mouth. Same with the goggles. You do not want that stuff in your eyes. Or regular clothes. Rubber boots would be nice, but your ordinary boots can be cleaned if need be.
A latrine is just filled a little bit at a time during use, and when it is time to be abandoned, it is completely filled.
Some of the other methods, where human waste is accumulated, that waste must be disposed of properly. And that does not mean emptying the chamber pot out the second story window.
This is very important to keep disease down. If you do not do it properly yourself, it could easily come back to haunt you. So, if there happens to be a working sewer in the area, an RV dump station, or a pit toilet in a campground fairly close by, the liquefied wastes can be disposed of in them. The dry-bag, or even just doubled trash bags that have been used as toilet receptacles should not be put in these. They need to be buried. Deep. Animals will dig up human waste. And they can smell it through a double layer of plastic and twelve inches of earth.
So, dig deep, preferably twenty-four inches or more. Make sure you are not digging in a spot that could contaminate water sources. Those might be desperately needed for yourself or others.
If at all possible, after filling the hole back up, put some large rocks, some boards, sheet metal, anything handy, to help prevent animals from digging there.
In this area, you will probably need both a pick and a shovel to dig a latrine, outhouse pit, or burial chamber. Sometimes, for small amounts of waste, a post hole digger can be used. If a person knows they will probably need to bury some waste, it is not a bad idea to pre-dig some holes when time and power tools are available, and fill them up with clean mortar sand so they can be quickly dug back out when needed, and the dirt used in raised beds for gardening.
While regular buckets with lids can be used to store and transport human waste, it is much more sanitary and safe to use wheeled totes specifically produced for this purpose. I will have a list of sources at the end of this article. They have a pour spout and can use regular RV sewer hoses to direct the flow, and with the wheeled ones, they are much easier to move around than carrying buckets.
Keep in mind that all of these sanitation recommendations will help keep you safe and sound and healthy. Also keep in mind that other people might not, probably will not, be doing the same Keep things, so it is not just your own activities you are protecting against, it is anyone and everyone anywhere close to you. To me, that makes stressing sanitation an extremely high priority. What other people do, or do not do, can impact you. It is like defensive driving. Practice defensive sanitation.
If you are part of a close-knit group, having the standards high, and maintaining them, is doubly important.
A question now. Not paper or plastic? But disposable or reusable? Which do you choose as your primary method of cleaning up? You should have both, but most people will prefer one or the other. On one hand, if you can burn safely and securely, paper towels, paper plates, and other disposables to make clean up easier are a good choice. You just have to stock up on them, and still have some non-disposable alternatives.
There is a left-hand matching that right hand. If you can be fairly sure of being able to wash dishes and fabrics effectively and economically, using cleaning cloths, reusable (preferably sanitizable) eating dishes and utensils and such, using them will lessen the need for stocking large amounts of disposables. But some disposables will be required for those times when you just are not in a position to clean the reusable items after use.
I recommend you do both, of course, but it really is easier to set up for one or the other as primary use.
Part sanitation, part grooming, for men, shaving can be a way to stay clean, and to feel good if you do not normally wear a beard/mustache. If you are an electric shaver person, and are in a situation where you cannot use it, be extremely careful switching to a manual blade razor. It is a good idea to practice from time to time with a manual blade razor simply to keep in practice. The last thing you want is open cuts and scratches on the face while doing dirty, nasty work, and/or handling dirty, nasty stuff.
Obtain and store alternatives that do not rely on electrical power. And stock up on the consumables required for shaving. That will often include disposable shavers or blades. If you decide to go with a straight razor, have someone that knows what they are doing teach you to use it. You can literally cut your throat if you do not know what you are doing, and do not use an appropriate shaving soap, and do not keep the razor… well… razor sharp.
If push comes to shove, let the beard and mustache grow and keep them neatly trimmed with the much easier to use comb and scissors designed for that purpose. Keep both methods available.
A few words on women’s specific sanitation needs. Difficult times can bring on menstrual problems. Sometimes stopping it for a time, other times making it very irregular, and often heavier. So, women need to stock whatever they normally use in large quantities, and at the very least consider some of the reusable alternatives.
Take particular care to avoid any infections, by choice of diet and cleanliness, and if one does occur, have the means to eliminate it. (Some UTI products: Pyridium/powdered cranberry juice or pills/apple cider vinegar, Acidophilus pills (for women before taking antibiotics that could cause yeast infections), Miconazole (for yeast infections)
And while this can be an issue for anyone, having the means to maintain as much privacy as possible during some sanitary activities, it can mean a great deal to some women, adversely affecting them without it. If at all possible have curtains, enclosures, screens, etc. and some personal space such as a personal closet or dresser or a bag in the field for feminine needs.
Whether disposable or reusable items are used, it is a good idea to use a stainless-steel step waste can with liner to hold the used items until they can be disposed of or sanitized in the case of the reusable items. With some of the alternative solid waste systems listed it will not matter too much. Others it will. If you think you might not be able to dispose of them normally, have the alternative.
If bugging out on the road or in the wild, or where sanitary facilities are not sanitary any more, there are now WSUUDs (Women’s Stand Up Urination Devices) that allow a woman to urinate without having to disrobe nearly as much as normal, or squat all the way down. This can be a simply a privacy thing on the side of the road, or rather critical in extreme cold weather; where there are many bugs, snakes, or brambles; or there is a lot of windblown dust and debris in the air; or where a woman has back, hip, leg, or knee problems and has problems getting up and down.
Now, for those that might be in the market for a new home or BOL, that will not have city sewer, a few words about septic systems.
Nearly as important as adequate water supply, is a reliable waste disposal system. If you are on a city sewer, you probably cannot legally have a septic system. But if you can have your own septic system, I have a few thoughts on that, as well.
A well designed, properly installed, and regularly serviced septic system is very reliable. The key factors being not burying the septic tank too deep, installing a large enough tank, having an adequate amount of field tile, and most importantly, installing the field tile properly.
I have seen several septic systems with a large tank buried at the correct depth, and with plenty of drain field. But the drain field was not properly installed and the people had trouble constantly.
Starting at the inlet, here are a few recommendations for the installation of a conventional septic system.
The closest point of the septic tank should be at least five feet, but not more than ten feet from the house. It should have enough earth cover to allow good grass growth. Four to ten inches is adequate. A tank of at least five-hundred gallons for two people is adequate, but for a family a tank of one-thousand to two-thousand gallons is best. I prefer concrete tanks as they last longer than steel, and usually have one or more cleanout holes built in. Fiberglass tanks are also a good choice.
No matter which tank material you choose, be sure that access holes are installed to allow routine maintenance. The inlet should have a tee installed inside the tank with a pipe extending approximately halfway down the sidewall. The tee is not necessary if the tank has a built-in baffle. A tee should also be placed on the outlet, which is two to four inches lower than the inlet hole. A solid pipe should go from the outlet to a distribution box. The lines of perforated pipe or tile, run from this distribution box. A short section of solid pipe should be used on each field line to prevent the waste water from getting around the outside of the distribution box.
A trench not less than two feet wide, or more than three feet wide, should be dug deep enough to allow a four to six-inch layer of washed gravel, not rock, beneath the pipe. Lay the pipe, and cover with more gravel to within six to twelve inches of the surface. The pipe should be level. Do not slope it at all. Place a permeable barrier over the gravel to prevent earth settling down into the gravel. Tar paper is not permeable. It prevents water from going up. The best choice is uncoated felt building paper, but you may have to use a layer of straw or similar substance. Fabric goods are now available specifically for disposal fields. Fill the rest of the way with loamy soil.
Probably the two major mistakes people make is to have the field tile too deep, (usually the result of a septic tank too deep), and putting tarpaper over the gravel. This prevents the upward movement of the water. In a properly installed system, a large percentage of the moisture evaporates or is used by the grass growing above the line.
There are now some alternatives for the disposal field not available just a few years ago. Polymer chambers, such as the Infiltrator, are placed in an appropriately sized trench and simply backfilled without the need for gravel or permeable barrier. Much easier, and just as effective, if not more so, than conventional perforated pipe and gravel systems, the chamber system are usually competitive in price.
For special circumstances, such as poor soils, hilly areas, or high-water tables, see a septic system specialist or contact your county extension agent. The government has several very good pamphlets on alternate sewage disposal systems.
Feel free to ask question, make comments, or expand on any of the above. If you want a link to something I mentioned that I do not include below, let me know and I will find one. I will have a couple of the items I mentioned at the April 2014 group meeting.
Oh. You might notice I did not really mention toilet paper. I did not figure I needed to.
Part #3 – How to quarantine/isolate those that might be contagious:
I will not be going into long-term self-quarantine in this article. Standard security precautions are the rule, and taking care of basic human needs for two weeks to a year or more are a subject in and of themselves. This article is just as the title states. How to quarantine and isolate anyone that could be contagious for the incubation time of the suspected illness.
If it is a simple illness, but you still do not want it to spread, basic sanitation applies, plus normal sick room procedures such as masks, gloves, goggles, and full apron. Everything sanitized regularly with hot soapy water and a good disinfectant.
If it is something that is more dangerous, that could turn into an epidemic, much stricter measures must be taken. The first step is to set a location for the person or people. While individual isolation is best, that is almost impossible for home situations. Better to make a single effective isolation room than attempt to create several less effective ones.
First, decide on the room. As much as it might grate, the master bedroom is probably the best choice in most houses. It is usually one of the largest bedrooms, and with an attached bathroom, which makes it easy to keep the possible contagion in one area.
Move everything out of the rooms that is movable and not needed. Take out that big old king size bed. Chances are, the bathroom walls are washable. That is good. If the bedroom walls are, so much the better. But if not, then line the room with sheet plastic, using Gorilla tape or better to secure the plastic in place. Overlap seams at least two inches. You might have to use narrower strips for the ceiling, so it does not sag too much. For this application, since you are keeping things in, rather than out, tape flaps of plastic over switches and receptacles as you may need to use them. Place a piece of plywood in one of the windows large enough to accept some dryer vent ducting.
In the bathroom, if it does not need full enclosure, cover up the switches and outlets anyway, and cover the vents. Use full overlapping plastic sheets at the entrance door. It is best to line the edges with magnetic tape to keep them closed, if possible, but as long as they fit well and lay tightly when closed, it will work.
Lay plastic tarps down on the floor over the plastic to take the brunt of the abuse. They will be destroyed later so cheap ones are okay. Tape them down firmly so there is solid footing.
Once the room is lined, but before the doors are hung, move in some cots or bunks. Add some easy to sanitize hard surface chairs and a table with a hard surface. Have a small table for each cot/bunk that can be disinfected to hold anything needed for that person. Add a chemical toilet to the bathroom, in case the power and/or water go off and the regular toilet quits working.
Bring in something to keep peoples morale up. Something to do. Lots to do. It is going to get very boring if they do not get sick.
With the vents closed off, and the doors and windows kept closed, the room is going to need its own ventilation system. As long as the power is on, a good shop vac with HEPA filter can be used to blow air out of the room through the window board. (A sound barrier will be needed to reduce the sound levels.)A large HEPA filter over another hole in the window board will allow air to come into the room. If humidity still gets too high, then a standalone dehumidifier can be operated. Even a standalone air conditioner can be operated.
If the power goes out, things get tougher. Two 24”x24” HEPA filters built into separate boxes can be placed at the window board and a 12 volt DC fan run to blow air out one and let the air come in the other. A 12v bucket swamp cooler or air conditioner will keep the room cooler, but humidity could become a problem if the air is not circulated in and out enough.
That is the isolation room. But that is not enough in serious cases. A decontamination area should be constructed the same way as the room, in the hallway that the room opens into. Basically the width of the hallway, and a bit longer than that width. This is where decontamination will take place going into the isolation room as well as coming out. You will need a kiddie pool small enough to fit into this space, plus a battery and 12v bilge pump with hose, and a bucket to handle the decontamination fluids.
If time, space, and material allow, another closed room can be created as a changing room to change clothes or add/remove items before and after decontamination.
Once the room(s) are set up and the cots/bunks are in place, cover the mattresses with plastic and tape it in place. The same with the pillows. Then add the bedding. It should be plain white cotton that can be boiled and/or bleached heavily. Sheets and blankets both. If you cannot bleach it without it coming apart it is not suitable for continued use. Better yet is disposable bedding. In the case of ebola and some other highly infectious and extremely deadly organisms, the process of putting reusable bedding through a cleaning process in a home can just spread the contamination around.
Pretty much everything else should be disposable, preferably paper or plastic. Trying to disinfect reusable items is too much work and takes up too many resources, as well as risks spreading the disease.
Use some common sense when it comes to working with those in isolation. Wear the goggles, face mask, gloves, and coverall religiously. Decontaminate as if you and your family’s lives depend on it, because they do. Treat those that get sick with compassion. If you have the means to help them get well, use it. If not, make them comfortable.
In a home setting dealing with multiple isolation cases can be very difficult. The last thing you want is to expose someone that might or might not have an infection to someone else that might. And with a single isolation room, that must also be a treatment room, this is even more critical. So, if there is more than one person to be isolated, but do not yet have symptoms, those people should wear basic PPE to avoid getting an infection from someone else also in the same isolation/quarantine area.
Be ready to burn or otherwise safely dispose of all the contaminated trash.
Now, if the contagion is wide spread, and you decide to isolate the whole household, you will need to be prepared for up to at least a 90 day isolation period. This should be long enough for the disease to spread through the area and then essentially run out of hosts to infect and die off (in that area).
So you will need a 90 day supply of everything. And I mean everything. From food to water to sanitation to heating fuel. All kept within a protected area that cannot be contaminated from the outside.
About the only other option is to have one or more reliable, trustworthy contact persons that remain outside the isolated household, off the property. Also needed is an enclosed exchange point at a window or door that can be decontaminated easily. Essentially a mini isolation room with air lock hatches or doors on each side, where the outside person can bring in or take out items necessary to maintain the isolation inside the home.
The person will need to be versed in using PPE, isolation techniques, and decontamination techniques. They will need the means to communication with those inside the structure, and have the means to obtain items needed by the household, and to dispose of items that need to be removed from the household.
Besides just a transfer agent, the person can also be a good source of information, and in a worst-case scenario, can help provide for the defense of the home from outside, giving one a much better chance to survive an attack on the home.
Just remember, that bringing anything into the house after the contagion begins to spread, is a huge risk. Decontamination of everything brought in must be effective to the nth degree, or risk bringing the contagion inside.
If the worst happens, and someone dies, get them into a body bag and removed to a suitable storage point that is secure, as cool as possible, and out of sight.
Do not count on any assistance from anyone else, even the government. If it is a pandemic, they are going to be busy, if even still working.
Part # 12: Isolation Room Equipment & Materials
• Sheet plastic
• Plastic tarps
• Gorilla tape or Gaffer’s tape
• 24″ x 24″ HEPA filters
• 12v fan w/pre charged deep cycle batteries
• 12v bucket swamp cooler or A/C
• Chemical toilet w/chemical, TP, and buckets for storage of waste (if no bathroom)
• Washing station w/sink, collection bucket, and cleaner (if no bathroom)
• Water purifier (not filter) (if there is sickness, they are going to need lots of pure water)
• Folding cots
• All cotton white bedding and lots of it
• Easy to decontaminate chairs and tables
• Insect control materials (flies, gnats, mosquitos, other bugs can carry infectious body fluids)
• Patient care items:
o Hand sanitizer
o Disinfectant soap
o Disposable patient gowns
o Warm socks
o Individual patient signal devices (bell, wireless intercom, FRS radio, laptop w/Skype)
o Disposable thermometers or non-contact electronic thermometer
o Disposable graduated medication dispensing cups and syringes
o Individual boxes of Kleenex
o Individual patient clipboard with medical information paperwork and pen
o Vomit pails, with sealable bags
o Fever reduction materials
o Trash cans & bags to hold contaminated clothing and bedding
o Easy prep, easy to eat shelf stable foods (Heavy on soups, ice cream, Jell-O, yogurt)
o Disposable dishes and flatware
o Oral rehydration powder or liquid (if there is sickness, they will likely become dehydrated)
o Vitamin C (Emergen-C packets or similar)(Vitamin C always helps)
o Multivitamins (With a limited diet, they are going to need the vitamins)
o Homeopathic treatments
o Some type of entertainment and boredom reducing materials
• Care giver PPE:
o P100 masks (though there are N-95 masks that will work, be safer and use the P-100s)
o Nitrile gloves
o Safety glasses/goggles
o Full face shield (Mostly to keep from touching your face)
o Tychem or similar booted/hooded coveralls
o Disposable plastic aprons
o Rubber boots
Please remember that these items can contaminate other items if they themselves pick up the contagion. So, while you may be protected, you can easily spread the contagion by handling other things after your PPE has been exposed. Of course decontamination procedures mitigates most of this outside the quarantine/isolation room. But if one has disinfected the bathroom, then does something with an infected quarantined person, and then touches on of those cleaned surfaces, that surface could now be contaminated again. So be aware that your PPE is a risk to other people.
And, other than a full encapsulated suit, touching your face, especially the eyes, nose, and mouth, with gloved hands, you can contaminate yourself accidently. So make it a point to never touch any part of your body with your gloved hands. One of the best ways to do this is to wear a full face shield over the safety goggles. This way, it takes a specific effort to touch your face, since the shield has to be lifted.
• Disinfecting/decontamination materials:
o Disinfecting cleaner (bleach, Hibiclens, alcohol)
o Cleaning cloths that can be bleached, or heavy duty disposable paper towels
o Disposable heavy duty cleaning gloves
o Trash cans & bags to hold general trash
o Garden sprayer (to spray down when decontaminating)
o Kiddie pool as decontamination sump
o 12 volt bilge pump &battery, with buckets with lids for contaminated water
Additional medical equipment list:
Part # 10: Convalescent & Invalid Care Equipment & Supplies
• Privacy screen
• Incontinent briefs
• Enema/douche bags
• Bed pans
• Bed urinals
• Vomit pails
• Rubber/plastic bed sheeting
• Bed rails
• Traction rack w/weights, cables & attachment harnesses
• Iv support stands
• Patient bed restraints
• Walking canes
• Rubbing alcohol
• Petroleum jelly
• Skin lotion
• Sponge bath pan, wash cloth & towels
• Tray w/water pitcher & glass
• Hot water bottles
• Non-electric heating pads (sand filled leather/cloth bags)
• Vaporizer tea kettle w/breathing hood/mask/tent
• Ice bags
• Freezable cold packs
• Medical oxygen tanks with delivery components
• Oxygen generator (zolite nitrogen absorber)
• Alarm clock
• Medication reminder/dispenser container
• Heavy duty contractors’ bags for contaminated waste
Part # 11: Quarantine, Infectious Diseases & Hazmat Kit
• Surgical gloves
• Surgical masks
• Safety glasses/goggles
• Rubber gloves
• Gas mask
• Rubber boots
• Tychem/hazmat coveralls w/attached hood & booties
• Providone iodine prep pads
• Hibiclens antiseptic surgical scrub (liquid)
• Commercial disinfectant
• Acid & alkali neutralizing chemicals
• Whisk broom
• Dusting brush (soft bristle paint brush)
• Pans & cleaning sponges
• Buckets & scrub brushes
• Heavy duty garbage bags
• Warning/marking sign kit
o Sign/placard material
o Indelible marker
o Heavy duty double stick tape
o Gorilla tape
o Staple gun w/staples
o Hammer/hatchet w/nails
o Wooden stakes
Part #4 – PAW Burials:
There will not be too many options for dealing with dead bodies, particularly human ones. If left out animal depredation will almost certainly occur. In many cases this can turn a normally benign animal, such as a family dog, into a man-eater that will go after living humans if other food sources are not available. And possibly even if there are.
Wild animals that may encroach on populated areas due to the loss of their own habitat will also be likely to start consuming anything and everything available.
Then there is the potential for the transmission of disease from the bodies. Mostly this will only occur if they are infected with a communicable disease and are handled by unprotected people. However, the normal illnesses that accompany poor sanitation will also likely be present if it rains, carrying the diseases to water sources, or the bodies wind up in water sources.
And I do not discount a couple of other problems that arise when there are dead things around, especially human bodies. The first is the mere presence of them is highly disturbing to just about everyone, and especially so to some. And if any of them are family, friends, or acquaintances, the impact is several times worse.
Add in seeing animals at them, and there can be serious psychological problems. Even seeing the signs of depredation will be bad enough.
And the second problem is simply the smell. Once a body begins to decompose, which starts immediately after death unless it occurs in severe cold weather, it will start to smell very quickly. The warmer it is the quicker and worse the smell will be. It is an awful, truly sickening smell. Most people either have to get away from it or they will be gagging and throwing up until they do.
This all means that bodies not just should be, must be disposed of in some way. The sooner the better, for many of the reasons listed above. I have heard many say they will burn bodies, animal and human, one or many. I must say that flesh and bone does not burn easily or quickly, and there tend to be unburnt remains left behind. Unless regular or well-made DIY cremators are available, with the fuel to operate them, burning will not be a good choice.
Not only does it take a large amount of fuel, which might be desperately needed at some point, but it take time, creates offensive odors that will travel for long distances, and unless it is an extremely hot fire, there will be large amounts of smoke. The smoke and the smell will be sure giveaways that you are where you are.
And transporting the bodies very far, if there are very many, also uses up resources and exposes one to all the dangers already out there. Not to mention, you are just putting problems on someone else at some point. And that might just be you, if you wind up travelling that way, or have to move to that area.
There are chemicals that will decompose the bodies, or at least help, such as quicklime, but that has its own problems. Having enough for one. And you must still have a place where the chemicals can be used, and the final remains contained.
Throwing them in rivers, ponds, lakes, or the ocean just shift the problems, and could again come back to haunt you in one way or another. Same with dumping them in abandoned places such as mine shafts, caves, open wells, and such.
The most likely method and probably most efficient and practical method is to bury the bodies. There are certainly problems with this method, too, of course. If the ground is hard, rocky, frozen, extremely wet then the digging will be a problem.
Decide early on where the family/friend burial grounds will be. Decide where Boot Hill is going to be. I believe it is best to keep the good guys separated from the bad guys. But that is up to you.
If the burial needs to be done during severe weather, times when not being seen or heard, when under quarantine, or when you must stay sheltered, then something must be done until the bodies can be buried.
Invest a few bucks in body bags (or at least heavy-duty contractors’ trash bags & Gorilla tape, some inexpensive blankets and/or sheet plastic). If properly done up the body will decompose, but everything will be kept inside the bag or assembly made with the other items.
Believe it or not, plain wooden coffins (as well as very nice ones) can be ordered on-line through Amazon. ~$500 and up. They are required to be accepted by funeral homes and crematoriums, though they might object. Which means you will probably have to have them shipped to one where the owners/manager will cooperate, and after they are delivered, pick them up now to be stored. Some are knocked down for easier shipping and will need to be assembled. But they will not take up much storage room that way.
You might even make arrangements with a funeral home to bring in from their regular supplier something similar. Though I am not sure how many would be willing. Fortunately, I have never had to deal with the situation. There was always someone else in a better position to make arrangements than I was every time. I simply do not know the ins-and-outs of dealing with a funeral home.
If the dead are family or others within your group, they need to be out of sight until the burial process can be done. So, make sure there is a spot somewhere in the shelter or the area if not confined to a shelter, that can be used to keep the bodies out of sight and protected from any intrusions of any kind from animals and pests. The last thing you want is for an animal to tear open a body bag and that resulting mess and the hysterics that will likely occur when discovered.
Corpses are difficult to handle. And in the case of death by infectious illness, dangerous to handle. Have some rubber gloves, masks and goggles, and even protective coveralls for when you handling the corpse. Get it in a body bag or wrapped in cloth or plastic as soon as possible. You will need cleaning supplies to take care of any blood or other body fluids if the death occurs inside or in an area that will be used in the future.
Have a cart on which you can carry the remains. A game or garden cart will work. Have some lowering gear, PPE, simple grave markers, and a pick and shovel available.
It will reduce the stress significantly if you have some wide webbing straps with which the body can be lowered into the grave, rather than just dumping it in. This is especially important if the body is that of a child. In any case it is better if the lowering can be done without people close to the victim being there. This is not always possible as some want to put a handful of dirt, or flowers, or something else into the grave with the body.
Create a set of burial ceremonies or a non-denominational one ahead of time. Keep it simple, but provide something for friends or relatives to satisfy their emotional and religious needs. Laminate a copy of the words to be said at the burial. Again, specific to the ceremony or something non-denominational.
If it looks like things are getting bad, especially in a situation like an epidemic or other situation likely to result in several deaths, go ahead and dig a few graves for the family/friends, and a trench for Boot Hill, using owned or rented digging equipment, ahead of time.
You might want to do this anyway if winter is coming on, or the area has a regular rainy season, or if freezing weather is expected soon. It is beyond difficult to dig in frozen or extremely wet ground. Just to have them ready for any ‘just in case’ situations. A plus to this in a true PAW (Post Apocalyptic World) is if the Boot Hill area is visible somewhere on the approach, marked, and with graves ready for use, it might give pause to anyone thinking about doing something nefarious.
Make the graves and/or trench the standard 6′ or so deep so they will not be likely to be dug up by animals that could be desperate for food in a disaster situation.
Put something over the graves to keep animals, snow, rain, and anything else major out of them. Use some kind of supports if necessary such as old lumber, used pipe, or even limbs and such to support the cover.
Use some sheet plastic or tarps to cover the holes. Overlap well past the edges so as little water will get in as possible come rain or snow and weight the edges down with rocks, dirt, or whatever you have handy. Do the same with the excavated earth so it does not wash away. This is also important during cold weather so the earth does not become saturated with water and freeze into one large earthen boulder.
Conduct any ceremony needed, fill in the grave, place the marker, and walk away. It is done. Do not dwell on it. It is something that must be done and you have fulfilled your obligation.
If you are not going to be able to get out to bury a body for a while, seal them up in some type of body bag, purpose built or expedient, and place the body(ies) in the coolest spot in the structure, that is not used much, if any, where they will not be disturbed by pets or vermin. At the very least, close off an area with a screen or curtain, or hide the bodies from general view in some manner. As soon as possible to take them out and bury the remains.
Part # 13: Funeral & Corpse Handling Equipment
• Record book w/pen
• Death certificates
• Body bags w/attached id tags
• Toe tags
• Personal effects bags w/attached id tags
• Surgical gloves
• Surgical masks
• Safety glasses/goggles
• Tyvek coveralls w/attached hood & booties
• Hibiclens antiseptic surgical scrub (liquid)
• Household disinfectant
• Bucket & scrub brush
• Gorilla tape
• Lowering straps
• Temporary grave markers w/attached id tags
• Attachable faith emblems for markers
• Bible/Koran/Torra/Prayer Book
Just my opinion.
I appreciate your very THOROUGH analysis. Long read, so I’ll digest it in chunks. THANKS!
The Spanish Flu claimed my great uncle and his two small sons, all within the same hour. My great aunt woke up as a wife and mother, and went to bed as a childless widow. And before that they were all young and healthy.
The next pandemic will be sprayed in the air by our own governments around the world and there will be no warning.Remember all of the planes that were grounded and quarantined,only for the CDC to turn the infected loose August 2018?That story got shut down fast.We’re probably infected now and just don’t know it yet…
What do you mean “will be” sprayed by our government? Have you seen what they are already spraying all over the world now?
This is how they plan to lower the population of the world to their liking.
Considering the stupid antivaxxers that are out there, we may be on the way to pandemics again, all thanks to their stupidity.
You absolute fool. You’re a prepper who thinks they’re awake and believes the official narrative? Hilarious and shockingly naive.
So… On a scale of 1 to 10: How concerned should we be about this Novel Coronavirus outbreak? I’m guessing it’s anywhere from a phase 4 to a phase 6 on the WHO pandemic phases.