Sanitization and Hygiene – How do you measure up?

Failure-why you won't survive the coming collapse.This is a guest post by Bam Bam and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

As preppers we contemplate the likelihood of various SHTF scenarios. We are well versed in the kinds of natural disasters that impact our areas. If you live along the Gulf Coast, you are prepped for hurricanes. If you live in the Midwest, you are prepped for tornadoes. If you live along the San Andreas Fault, you are prepped for earthquakes. We calculate the likelihood of each SHTF scenario and plan accordingly.

We plan for natural disasters that have a probability >100 percent; yet many of us, myself included, are not fully prepared to deal with sanitization and hygiene issues post collapse. And here’s the kicker: in any significant event, we can expect on a loss of electricity and a subsequent loss of running water. Indeed, the probability that we will loose electricity and running water is very near 100 percent in a major event.

In this article I want to first take a look at the most common diseases brought on by lack of sanitization and hygiene, and then I want to review clear steps that can be taken to improve sanitization and hygiene in a collapse situation.

Water Borne Diseases

Lack of sanitization and hygiene will kill more people in a collapse situation than all other causes of death combined. People who have not researched and who are not prepared to deal with sanitization issues (such as disposal of human waste, food preparation and water purification) are going to die of diseases such as typhoid, cholera and other diarrheal diseases.

According to a UNICEF report, “Diarrhoea is the most important public health problem directly related to water and sanitation. The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can cut diarrhoeal disease by one-third. Next to providing adequate sanitation facilities, it is the key to preventing waterborne diseases.” [1]

Cholera is an infection of the intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. According to a WHO report, [2] cholera is a highly contagious disease. People become infected when they eat food or drink water that has been contaminated with feces of infected persons.

Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. Typhoid is spread the same way Cholera is spread, by eating food or drinking water contaminated feces. According to a CDC report:

You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with Salmonella Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage. [3]

There are a host of other diseases that could be mentioned here: Yellow Fever, Dysentery, E. coli, Giardia, Hepatitis, as well as various types of worms. These diseases will kill; and they will kill quickly.

Practical Steps to Protect Your Family

Here are some practical steps you can take to protect your family.

1. After a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, a tornado or an earthquake, drinking water may not be available or safe to drink. There are three easy ways to make water safe to drink: treat it with chemicals, filter it with an adequate filtration system or boil. For more information on disinfecting water, see [4].

2. No electricity means no running water. And no running water means your toilet will not flush. In a short-term disaster you can flush your tank manually by pouring two gallons of gray water into your tank, provided of course that you have extra water on hand.

If you live in suburbia, the sewer system may back up, flooding your home with raw sewage. To prevent this make sure your backwater overflow device is in working order. If you live in the country and are on a septic system, you will be in much better shape.

In a longer-term emergency, it will be necessary to move the latrine outside. Here you can build an outhouse or dig a trench. [5] In either case, it is imperative that the waste is covered, as uncovered waste attracts flies and flies have a habit of landing on food and food prep areas. Make sure you have plenty of sawdust and lime on hand. (By covering the waste you block the feces-fly-food method of transmitting pathogens.)

3. Hand washing. This is a vital aspect of hygiene in preventing water borne diseases. If there is no running water, how will you wash your hands after defecating, dumping the toilet-bucket, or cleaning the outhouse? One idea here is to build a gravity- fed system with a quality water filter. [6] (Again, a primary mode of transmission of water borne illnesses is feces-hands-oral. You can break this chain of transmission by washing hands frequently.)

4. Food preparation. All food should be washed thoroughly, as food is a primary breading ground for bacteria. Food should be cooked long enough to kill harmful bacteria.

All food preparation instruments and surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and clean water. The easiest solution here is to stock dish detergent and both liquid bleach (for short-term emergencies) and pool shock (for longer-term emergencies). [7]

5. Shower. In both a short-term and a long-term emergency it will be necessary to devise some means of cleaning yourself, especially if you are a women. (Women have different hygiene needs than men.) A simple camp shower provides an effective means of cleaning yourself.

In a collapse situation, small cuts can become an entry point for pathogens. Keeping clean and having basic first-aid supplies available is crucial. All cuts should be cleaned with soap and potable water, treated with antibacterial ointment and covered.

Also, in a stressful situation where you have been working hard all day, do not underestimate the psychological impact a quick shower can have. Mental health is important too.

6. Trash. In a long-term event, it will be necessary to deal with garbage, as curbside pickup will likely cease. Food and non-food waste should be dealt with properly so as not to attract flies. (Again a primary means of transmission of pathogens is feces-fly-food.) Non-animal trash can be composted. [8] Paper products and animal waste can be burned in a burn barrel.

OTC Medicines and Antibiotics. The foregoing has convinced me of the need to stock significant amounts of OTC medicines and antibiotics. As careful as we try to be, someone may still get sick. When it comes to water borne illnesses, I think the most important OTC medicines are oral rehydration packets and anti-diarrheal medicine. As for the antibiotics, I would have no problem using Doxycycline or even Ciprofloxacin.

Works Cited









Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive – Two (2) Just In Case… Classic Assortment Survival Food Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival, a $150 gift certificate for Remington ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner, aWonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and a Survival Puck courtesy of Innovation Industries, LLC.
  2. Second place winner will receive – One case of Future Essentials Canned Organic Green Costa Rican Monte Crisol Coffee courtesy of and Solo Stove and Solo Pot Courtesy of
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ courtesy of, a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of and a Wolf Pack Coffee Mug Jumbo Mug courtesy of Horton Design.

Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on January 15 2014

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. No matter the topic, I love reading BamBam’s articles, they are always well thought out, provide valuable info, and are well researched… with sourced cited… Does my English teacher’s heart proud! Thanks Bam Bam for another great article!

    • *sources*… sources cited… lol, posting before the brain is fully awake is a mistake, I guess.

    • Shandi,

      You are too funny. When I was in fourth grade I brought home a D in history. (I was bored to death and not paying attention.) My dad then began checking all my homework–with a red pen. If he found a grammatical mistake, I had to recopy the entire assignment and bring it back to him. If he found another mistake, I had to recopy the entire assignment again and then give it back to him. I learned to stop making mistakes.

  2. Awesome article! Also a five gallon bucket with water and a clean plunger with a few holes drilled into it is a cheap and very effective way of keeping those grungy work day clothes clean when there is no power

  3. Nebraska Woman says:

    From another English teacher’s perspective, well done!
    I am fortunate to live outside the cities on a septic tank with access to groundwater that is excellent.
    Bam Bam also stresses the point while prepping get soap, more soap, and more soap! Also have means to boil water and you should be fine.

    • And… Bam Bam also wrote a GREAT article on making soap which you will find in the archives here.

      Well done, Bam Bam – as usual!

  4. riverrider says:

    nice job. now i’m thoroughly grossed out. i always get a funny look when i tell my friends that plan to run down to the river for water that they will get shot on the way, and if not they’ll have risked their lives for a bucket of pooh. look at haiti, even developed new zealand after the big quake. people had no knowledge of waste disposal. they crapped wherever and left it uncovered. very quickly the water was contaminated. hell, until the 70’s many cities dumped their sewage right into the river and many still do when the treatment plant fails. have a pooh plan 😉

    • RR,
      I’m old enough to have used that little shack out back at our rural cottage. I helped dad dig the hole and it was a big one, since we had a two hole’r. It worked well for many years but did suffer the standard placement issue for any building of its nature. It was 50 yards too close in the summer, and 50 yards too far away in the winter. We kept the TP covered with a can to keep out the mice, and it received a liberal dusting of lime a few times a week.

      • riverrider says:

        op, roger that! we had those too back in the day. my cherokee great grandma refused to get indoor plumbing even when we got it next door. she was 98 and ate up with arthritis that deformed her feet but she preferred to walk to the outhouse. i remember a sears catalog in lieu of tp, lol. never felt cold like that since.

  5. MorePooperThanPrepper says:

    Sanitization and Hygiene – How do you measure up?

    I’ve been told I’m lacking…

    Oh, you meant after the collapse. : )

    Very good article. In case people wonder about lime, you can get it from your nearest home store.

    At Lowes

    Its one of those things I would consider getting at the last moment, (along with 500 lbs or so of feed corn) but have no reasonable way to store at my location.

    • I don’t have a lot ofstorage space, but can fit 1 of those lime bags in a shed.

    • I have a question. What type of Lime are you supposed to use? Is it the lime in MPTP’s link that is used to mix with cement and sand to make morter, or is it the Ag Lime that is high in calcium and safe for plants?

  6. mom of three says:

    All good things to know. We take our health for granted sometimes and it takes one virus, to knock us on our backs to remember it. I clean so much in my house and dealing with a 9 year old who still sucks his thumb, is driving me nuts. That reminds me time to get some more bleach.

  7. Great article Bam Bam. The whole hygiene thing is so important. We have it pretty much under control at the bol, here would be a bit more difficult, but not impossible. I have a flo Jack and an outdoor shower so would manage, but would be miserable doing it. Can hardly wait to get this place sold and move!

  8. Hunker-Down says:

    Thanks Bam Bam,

    We need to be drop-kicked a couple times a year on this important topic. Why do you pick on the hygiene things I forgot?

    From 1960 to 1962 I was poked 3-4 times a year with cholera shots. After all this time, does any protection remain?

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Calcium hypochlorite (Pool Shock) sometimes can spontaneously combust (start burning) if not kept in a sturdy plastic container. Also, storing it in the open (as I did in our garage) next to metal containers will corrode the metal.

    • H-D,

      The oral vaccines they give today are only good for two years. I would venture to say the shots you got 50+ years ago are no longer effective. It’s better to be on the safe side and treat your water.

  9. Donna in MN says:

    Thanks Bam.

    When I work with removal of barrels of spoiled fish guts at the campgrounds, I always use new rubber gloves. Since I am trained in Red Cross blood borne, even the way of taking off used gloves is important. A hangnail, rash or small abrasion can become infected.

    One thing I learned from a friend who lived in India and Bangaladesh in the 60’s with a health organization, the people living there had many children because most of them will die of infections, parasites, and disease (due to unsanitary conditions). He said they were taught to boil their water for washing and drinking, but refused to do this after a while, and continued their unsanitary ways. It was frustrating to my friend why they didn’t listen and they contunued to die. Scientists would call this a genetic failure. Death all around them from unsanitary conditions, yet they couldn’t process what they were taught would stop most of the deaths, even their own.

  10. Good post Bam Bam.

    If there is a loss of electricity and water it’ll be a disaster for a lot of folks. We too have a well and septic system, but even so, water useage protocols are a necessity to conserve supplies. An old plumber friend had a saying:” If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down!” Getting our minds adjusted not to flush every time will take some effort. Most all septic tanks work longer without having to be pumped out if they are not having to “digest” paper products. With that thought in mind, and knowing that women will necessarily use more (but smaller) pieces of toilet paper, we’ve purchased some small plastic “toilet paper roll” holders. They hold three to four rolls and are one piece with a molded sealed bottom and have a lid. They will be used to receive and hold those small pieces of “dampened” paper rather than putting them in the spetic system for disposal. When the container starts getting full it can be emptied and the paper burned or otherwise disposed of. We expect to have more women than men congregate at our home if/when the SHTF so we needed to address this small aspect of sanitation. A drop of aftershave or cologne in the container will eliminate any offensive smell.

    A topic that you briefly alluded to should be considered. We all tend to be a bit hesitant to talk about such things as female sanitary needs in mixed company, but those products are as important as toilet paper. We purchased several large packets of sanitary napkins. They are stored along with our medical supplies as, in addition to their original intended purpose, they make excellent first response field dressings

    Hope I haven’t offended the tender sensitivites of anyone with my comments!

    • Nebraska Woman says:

      We do not have sensitivities when it comes to prepping on this blog!

      • LOL, Nebraska Woman. I suspect you are absolutely correct. We have no problem talking about women’s hygiene. I suspect it’s been many, many years since the guys here were 20 years old and afraid to walk in the store to buy their wife’s tampons.

        • I figured that all topics were on the table for discussion but I wanted to walk softly just in case! This forum is the best I’ve found and the only one where I participate. Thanks to everyone that takes the time to share their knowledge and ideas!

    • Big Bear,
      We must know the same plumber.
      TP is one of our big issues, since we switched to single ply some years ago. The DD still complains; however, the septic system thanks us continuously.

    • Donna in MN says:

      Big Bear
      Every septic pumper told me I had to use TP in the tank to make it better pumping out. I figured this is a lie so they can make more money pumping your tank. I don’t flush paper down the toilet unless it is too nasty to store for my camp fire starter or wood stove.

      I am over the hill. I use sanitary mini pads for my female dog in heat with her homemade panties. My male dogs aren’t embarraassed by them as they are mature now.

      • I agree that they were probably just handing out some false info. Any way you look at it the septic tank will remain useable longer if it doesn’t have anything other than human waste (no TP) in it.

        Male dogs not being embaarased …………. very funny!!

      • k. fields says:

        Toilet paper is the bane of any septic system. It will build up much more quickly than your bodily wastes and will keep the floating scum layer much too thick for proper operation.

        The contents of your septic tank separates into 3 distinct layers – the floating scum usually made up of fats and oils, the clear effluent or grey water, and the bottom sledge (the area where the anaerobic bacteria work to break down the waste). The central effluent is the only layer you want flowing out into your leach field and the only reason to pump out your septic tank is when either the scum or the sledge layers build up too much.

        If you refrain from flushing food waste (garbage disposal), chemicals harsh enough to kill the sledge loving bacteria (occasional use of chlorine won’t do much damage), or from using toilet paper, the bacteria in your septic tank will breakdown your body waste to a fraction of its original volume and you will go a very long time before your tank will need pumping.

        I always recommend that folks measure the layers in their septic tank once a year – only when the scum or sledge layers are within 6 inches of the outlet should you consider calling your local pumper.

        • Schatzie Ohio says:

          At our last house (in California) we had a septic system that we never pumped out in the 20 years that we lived there. When we sold the house the realtor said we had to pump the septic tank out to sell the house. The pumpers said that there was practically nothing in the tank. I was very careful in what went down the drain/toilet. No tampons, no cooking grease, etc. We used Scot tissue sparingly and flushed it, kleenex went into the trash. There was only two of us using the system for the most part. At our current house, all our neighbors said that they pump their system every three to five years. Last year after being here eight years we had the tank checked and were told that the tank didn’t need to be pumped. Just be careful in what you put down the drain/toilet.

          • Schatzie Ohio,
            We also use Scott single ply which is biodegradable, and according to the DW, often in your hand, LOL. We switched from “better” (as in softer) tissue like Charmin, etc. some years ago when I had to have the system pumped due to backing up. This was before the DD went off to college, so perhaps the combination of thicker tissue, with two females in the house was the real issue. We’ve gone perhaps 8 years now with no issues with the right tissues.
            As for K Fields issues, I completely concur. We are careful with the chemicals and don’t have an electric garbage disposal, preferring composting of veggie and feeding meat scraps to the outside cats.

    • Donna in MN says:

      I asked my grandma back in the day what people used when TP and modess were not available. After all, millions of people survived w/o these “luxuries” for milleniums. She told me rags, the daily times, corncobs, straw, plant material and the left hand, in order from present to the long past. The custom of shaking hands with the right hand resulted from this.

      This will probably offend the gentile crowd and cause fainting. History has its secrets never discussed in public, but always used.

      • k. fields says:

        Today, I feel a bidet (either manufactured or home-made) is the best solution. Think of it this way; if you were walking barefoot and stepped in a pile of s..t. would you go get some extremely thin, dry paper and simply wipe it off before you put on your socks? No, most people would WASH the substance off – and for good reason. Why people would wash their foot but not their backside is beyond me.

  11. If you’re in an area where you can use it you might look at this latrine system. It’s what I’m planning on using, if need be, as well as pee tubes.

  12. Old Soldat says:

    Sometimes it is just easier to call it a life IMO. Couldn’t get through the article.

    As an aside, why are so many “Christians” so afraid of death?

    • Old Soldat says:

      Moreover, a does bear shit in the woods? #levity

      • Old Soldat says:

        My grammar is worse than the “English teacher” above. Should have read…does a bear shit in the woods? Whatever.

        This topic is about the last thing I would be concerned about. I could have capsulized the whole article by simply stating “toilet paper.” Sorry; but come on.

    • MorePooperThanPrepper says:

      Yep, but then some of us have little guys to take care of. And I will never decide its ok to just quit when they are counting on me. If they were 20 or 30 and out of the house that may be a different story, but when it is 4 and 2 yo big eyes looking up at ya, you just have to find some way to insure a better future for them.

      • Old Soldat says:

        That’s innate. I decided to not have kids to not deal with the issue. I think it is less selfish. Why would I want to bring progeny into this world when the takers are outnumbering the makers at the rate it is occurring. Seems a disservice and irresponsible. No offense but it is the way of many, ergo, a self-fullfilling prophesy. I wish you and yours luck.

        • Ahaaa, so THAT’S why the % of takers vs worker bees is increasing. And here I thought it was just ’cause the worker bees couldn’t afford more than 1 or 2 progeny ’cause they were paying so much in taxes to better support so many takers and their progeny.

      • Old Soldat says:

        You can home school your “chiltrens.” and do what you will but our world has simply changed, e.g Obama got re-elected. Hussein is quite the delta from Reagan in a matter of only a few years on the time continuum.

        My daughter is 30 and has no kids. Her decision is not based on any input from me as we are not close at all. I ensured she was educated and at a very good school and did my job. She does not want to have children. That is not an anomaly amongst the “educated.” But drive through, say, Petersburg, VA and really look…or go to Wal-Mart on the 1st of any month. You figure it out. Good luck and God bless.

    • sw't 'taters says:

      Probably just don’t think their work is done on earth…Lots of perople just not ready to give up and get on the bus, immediately.
      ..there was a song one time that said..”.Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die”

    • I suspect that many Christians are afraid of death b/c they still have doubts, or b/c they (esp we Americans) haven’t really had to trust Christ to meet their physical needs on earth, & thus aren’t real sure about Christ ushering them into heaven. Others may be confident about Christ & heaven, but afraid of the pain & losses one often experiences b/4 dying.

      • On Christians & dying… If given the choice of dying due to colon cancer, lung cancer, or a sudden heart attack, which would u choose. I think most would choose the sudden heart attack. Since the ladies above were being so open, I’ll share this: Occasionally, my wife expresses concern about my having a heart when we’re being intimate in bed, & my reply has been, if I do die of a heart attack while in bed w/ u, u can rest assured that I have died happily & in much joy! 🙂

  13. Curley "Bull" says:

    Great article Bam Bam! This is a subject that needs to be addressed every so often because people tend to forget about it while things are going good and pay for it if things go bad. My hat is off to you (once again) little Lady.


    • Thank you, Bull. I listened to a Marine one time tell about how cholera took out a hundreds of them. They were young and thought they were invincible. And that was with access to modern medicine.

  14. BamBam
    Great article as usual. You get everyone’s attention with the toe tag….

  15. celticreeler says:

    First aid: gonna share what I consider to be a “pearl” (as in “clinical pearl” which is taught in med. school)…triple antibiotic ointment (polymyxin B/bacitracin/neomycin are the three antibiotics contained) is overkill for almost all common skin infections. The first two antibiotics (polymyxin B and bacitracin) mostly kill what we call, in the business, “Gram positive” bacteria (“positive” or dark purple on Gram stain on a microscope slide), and that would include the vast majority of bacteria that infect common skin wounds: staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus pyogenes.

    The third antibiotic, neomycin, primarily kills “Gram negative” bacteria, which as a rule, do not play a big role in the run-of-the-mill skin infections.

    One rule in antimicrobial therapy is to never use broader spectrum antibiotics, i.e., aim at killing more types of bacteria, than you need to. This increases the toxicity/complications, and selects/promotes resistant strains, which will become more common.

    Neomycin is not just candy, completely without side effects. It’s not needed (it’s overkill) and furthermore, it is thought to be a “cutaneous sensitizer”, that is, smearing it on your skin over and over and over might make you sensitive or allergic to not only neomycin, but some of its close relatives, which is a very helpful family of pretty well-understood and old (meaning good!) antibiotics.

    Class dismissed!

  16. celticreeler says:

    So, what I’m saying, is I recommend the “double antibiotic ointment” and if you read my comment carefully, and the label on the box in the pharmacy aisle, you won’t need me to give you a brand name.

  17. It may be useful to have some rubber & nylon gloves on hand too. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but there are some “sanitation stuff” that I’d rather not handle directly.

    • sw't 'taters says:

      IF you read, [and did not scan or try to proofread:>),the article] ‘When Chronic infection becomes acute’, you would already have noted that little addition mentioned. Several pair were recommended.. and don’t forget to get small and large sizes, you may not be the one using them., and may need personal care, when unable do take care of necessities.
      Good job BAM BAM!

  18. Thanks. And I thought we were doing good when my beautiful bride picked up 2 cases (80 rolls) of primo TP.
    Good article.

  19. canadagal says:

    Good article Bam Bam. I have a question. I went to get some Pool Shock the other day in the city & all they had was a chlorine/bromine mix. Would that be safe to use in making a bleach that would be used to disinfect water for drinking. I suppose since it is winter here they are probably only keeping what didn’t sell in the summer so I didn’t buy any. Thank-you in advance

  20. Mother Earth says:

    Went through the list …
    1. have a great well, looking into manual pump or solar panel for shtf purposes
    2. See above
    3. Can keep a pan of water on wood stove for warm water to wash hands, solar for summer. Have ingredients to make hand wash stuff.
    4. See answer 1 & 3
    5. Have solar shower bags and cases of baby wipes.
    6. Trash will be minimal as I can and freeze a lot of our food. So I can burn and compost most of the trash.
    Yep, that’s why I like this site…I can see what I do have and where my weakness’s are. Good article Bam Bam.

    • Mother Earth,

      I hear you. It’s kind of nice to go through these articles and see that you are completely good to go.

  21. I am a fan of cleansing cloths. They are used to bathe people unable to get in and out of a shower or bathtub and do not require rinsing. I also store quantities of vinegar to use as disinfectant. Luckily we have a septic and well. My next project is a solar shower.

  22. Blkprepper says:

    Good article. When I travel and stay in a hotel, I make it a point to take the extra soap, shampoo and conditioner each day, the cost of these items are already built into the cost of room; so why not take them for your preps. I have a 5 gallon bucket full of these toiletries ready for a disaster.

  23. That’s the nice thing about living in the country with no services other than electric. Water into the system and waste out of the system are handled on a routine and nearly automatic basis. The main thing with a septic system is to keep it running smoothly, which means no harsh chemicals to kill the critters, and getting it pumped out every now and then, before it gets clogged. Been there and don’t wish to do it again. As long as there is fuel for the genset or another way to get water from the well, we are in good shape, since this is no different than normal everyday living. As long as we have propane (and we keep a lot on hand) then we have cooking & hot water for showers. We have a burn barrel; however, we don’t often use it, since trash pickup with proper disposal is a better method, until it is unavailable in which case we start burning again. When the propane runs out (in a few years) we have backup heating and cooking methods, although if it comes down to that, then we’re living in a whole different world, and I suspect the die off is long over.

    • Mother Earth says:

      Right there with you Ohio Prepper! Electric and propane and we barter the septic tank cleaning with a local farmer. My dh works on his machinery and we get the tank pumped. Score!

      It’s nice to have a nearly automatic system. I use the trash service too, until such time there isn’t one and I can burn. I agree, when it’s unavailable, a little different life style.

  24. k. fields says:

    Well done Bam Bam, it’s important for everyone to go through your article to see how his or her individual living situation can be improved.
    As for me:
    1. Safe and abundant water. I have wells sealed from surface water intrusion and a small, improved spring. Water is raised from the wells by solar-powered submersible pumps feeding through hand pumps (I use ones by Bison made especially for this purpose). Either the electric pump or hand pump can be used independently.
    2. I’m not connected to a power grid so I don’t ever worry about a loss of electricity. Solar panels make life easier and are backed up by a wood gas generator (although it’s a pain in the rear to use). Having grown up using an outhouse (my great-grand parents were adamant that one should NEVER shit and eat in the save building) my “bathroom” is still housed in a separate building. Sewage disposal today though is handled on-site through a gravity tank/leach field system.
    3. Hand washing is done continually (you kind of have to anyway if you own livestock). Water from the main well is pumped into an elevated storage tank so there is always water pressure available at hose bibs throughout the working area of the property. Soap is kept in a mason jar hung next to every bib. I make my own soap from ash and tallow.
    4. Food prep. This is one area where it is good being a vegetarian as the probability of contamination is much less than from improperly handled meat products. Water coils in the wood fired cook stove and baking oven provide hot water for cleaning prep surfaces.
    5. Shower. A large passive solar water heater feeding through a propane on-demand heater provides comfortable showers. Very seldom does the propane heater fire up so eventually running out of propane won’t be an insurmountable problem – basically it would mean no more early morning showers. Wood fired hot tub covers the mental health aspect and yes, everyone must shower throughly before using the hot tub.
    6. Trash. Actually, I don’t generate any trash. What may be considered food waste is fed to the pigs. Animal waste is used as fertilizer.
    7. OTC Medicines and Antibiotics. Having grown up in a household that didn’t believe in modern medicine, I’ve had a lot of experience using local plants to help offset the effects of many ailments. I do stock antibiotics just in case though. Now that I’m fighting cancer, I take a number of prescription medications so I keep 6 months worth on hand. Once those run out, I’ll get to see just how good the “old ways” really are.

  25. We set our place up 30 years ago so power is not needed for water, flushing toilets or hot water. Gravity fed spring stored in 3000gal of tanks. Hot water is propane, with 3-4 years worth of storage at all times……and have a wood fired backup.

  26. Hi Bam Bam. Nicely written article, but, based on having lived comfortably w/o elec and water for many years, I disagree with some of your premises about being prepared. I also think people should spend their time designing new systems that don’t require “preps.”

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