Personal hygiene and sanitation

shutterstock_140975500One of the most important things to prepare for when a hurricane is approaching is the ability to keep everything you use clean and sanitary until utilities such as water and electricity are restored. Dirty and unsanitary surfaces or items can spread illness and disease, resulting in everything from stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea to more serious ailments that require professional medical attention.

Being vigilant about cleanliness and informed of sanitizing methods is one way to keep a difficult situation from getting worse.


Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water, perishable foods and those with an unusual odor, color or texture. This isn’t the time to guess or take a chance on something as you might under normal conditions. When in doubt, throw it out.


Do not ever use water you suspect may have been contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice or make baby formula.

Always wash hands with soap and clean water that has been sterilized. If there is no water, use hand sanitizer

Finding safe drinking water is paramount, particularly as your body requires constant hydration.

If you don’t have safe, bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling is the surest method to make water safer to drink by killing disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Do not allow children to play in or around standing water.


Bleach is your friend during and after a hurricane. After washing surfaces with soap and water to remove dirt and debris, sanitize them with diluted household bleach. This can be applied to everything from food surfaces to food cans and sinks, toys, flatware, plates and tools. It can also be used to combat mold growth on hard surfaces.

Have plenty of soap on hand, as well as detergent, sanitizing wipes and hand gel. The latter will keep the germs at bay without requiring water, which may be in short supply.

Make sure you also stock up on paper towels and toilet paper as laundering towels could be difficult for a while, and lots of strong plastic bags and garbage bags.

Wear rubber gloves, boots and even goggles whenever possible during a cleanup of an affected area. The more you protect yourself, the more chance you have of escaping nasty and dangerous germs.

TEMPORARY TOILETSThinkstockPhotos-186270196

If water is in short supply, flushing toilets is a wasteful and possible hazardous thing to do. Each flush takes about a gallon of water, which is a lot when there are limited amounts around.

For a temporary solution, you can line the dry toilet bowl with a garbage bag, and then use it to remove the waste from the house.

A five-gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag also makes a good makeshift toilet.