Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Prudent Prepping: Personal Protection

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.


Personal Protection:

 Safety from the Clean Point of View

I realize that title has two possible, popular meanings, but neither of them will be discussed today. You can read better and more detailed articles from others, elsewhere. Bing is your friend!

Washing Up

On several different camping trips, both in the Boy Scouts and with others, I have had problems with cleanliness: not lack of showers but poor sanitation of pots, pans and water purification. There is nothing worse than the feeling you get from eating bad food or from dirty dishes. At its mildest, the symptoms are stomach cramps and diarrhea; in people with immune problems, poor health or under stress, these can be deadly.  Having containers large enough to hold enough water to wash and rinse dishes, cooking pots and pans is important - not just for a group but also for an individual.

If using water from an unknown source, you have to get it boiling for one minute to be safe*, longer at high altitudes. There needs to be enough hot water to wash and then rinse everything used to cook. To save wash water and time, scrape all large particles off before washing.

Other options to reduce the volume of water needed are using smaller plates and bowls so that less water is used in cleaning, or cooking one-pot meals if alone.

* Editor's Note:  Not necessarily. To kill pathogens you simply need to raise the water to pasteurization temperature instead. The problem is that most people don't know how hot that is, and so the rule of thumb of "make it boil" was born.  However, this takes time and fuel. 

A handy way around this is to get a water pasteurization indicator (WAPI). Lightweight, inexpensive, and idiot-proof, these have been distributed widely throughout the third world. They consist of an amount of wax sealed inside a weighted length of clear tubing. Simply lower the WAPI into the water like a tea bag, and make sure the wax is in the upper part of the tube. Heat the water until the wax melts and flows to the other end. This indicates that the water has reached pasteurization temperature and is now safe to drink.

Personal Cleanliness

I will only be speaking to men here, since being one that is all I'm safe in addressing. Please read my friend and co-blogger Evelyn Hively's articles here and here for the woman's point of view and issues. Or just look up all her posts, starting from January!

I have washed myself off fairly well with a quart of water and a washcloth while camping and, with some care, had enough water left over to wash my hair. In my B.O.B. I have made room for Tinactin antifungal powder, to use on my feet and elsewhere. I can't speak to multi-week deployments (there are potential articles needed for that), but on week-long camping trips, nothing can reduce your fun faster than a bad case of Athlete's Foot or jock itch.

I have washed socks in my cooking pots and have gotten them dry, even in bad weather, by wringing them out as much as possible, draping them carefully over the empty wash pot on a low fire, and then tucking them inside my clothes under my belt to finish drying. It's not the most elegant method, but it gets the job done.

If you can't change socks or wash them out, doing anything to air them and your boots out will help to improve both their smell and insulation. . Dirty, sweaty clothes lose their insulation factor just like wet clothing does: the air trapped in the fibers is replaced with body oils, dead skin and dirt. If you can't wash or change clothes, airing them out in direct sun can make them feel and smell (somewhat) better. First, shake your clothing hard, several times and then lay it out in the sun, but off the ground to help air to circulate. Turn them over and inside out, to get the best exposure to the sun's UV rays. Do the same to your underwear, jackets and sleeping bag. The stronger the sunshine, the better and faster you will have 'cleaner' clothes.

Recent purchases

Several small additions were made to my supplies:
  • Two 10-count boxes (individual servings) of instant coffee from Trader Joe's;  $1.99 each
  • One pound of raw Turbinado sugar from Trader Joe's; $3.49
  • Two 4oz bottles of Dr Bronner's 18 to 1 Hemp unscented soap from REI; $4.50 each
  • One UCO Stormproof Match Kit, yellow container from REI; $6.95

As always, if you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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