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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pandemic Prep…Sanitation

Common rubbish in a bin bag.

I had a slight set back with my finger healing yesterday so this post will be short and sweet.Have you heard that Panasonic has told all their employees in South America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and former Soviet states to move their families back home by September 2009? Their reason was concern that families could not be protected and moved quickly enough in the event a pandemic occurs. We are not the only ones thinking a pandemic may be coming.

One of the very most important considerations when planning for a pandemic is sanitation. Once you are self quarantined you want to make sure your family remains healthy and safe. There are a few things to consider.

First cleaning: You will want to guarantee, as much as possible that the surfaces and items in your home remain free of germs. Even a common cold during an outbreak of a pandemic illness can weaken family members and make them more susceptible to other illness. For cleaning surfaces and clothing you will want strong disinfectants. In the past I have advised you to store a few sets of white sheets that can be bleached when laundered. When possible you will want to wash items in hot water, detergent, and bleach. Bleach is also one of the cheapest ways to clean surfaces. Simply add 1/4 C of bleach to a gallon of water.

Trash: You will need a generous supply of plastic trash bags for use during a pandemic. Tissues, paper plates, food containers, food waste, all will need to be disposed of, preferably outdoors. That is the easy part. What happens when there is no trash pick up because trash collectors are self quarantined and caring for their families? When we lived on the family farm several years ago we had a burn barrel. It was a 50 gallon metal barrel in which we burned much of our trash. You see those in old movies when they depict life on “skid row” but we actually used one. Now it would probably be illegal, but during a pandemic who is going to come issue the ticket? How will you dispose of trash? Bottles and cans can be rinsed and placed in plastic bags but what of the rest? As we talk about planting a garden this may be a good time to consider learning to compost, great for the garden and also a great way to “recycle” food scraps during a pandemic. At the very least we will need to think differently about the trash we generate and be prepared to separate trash into several categories for disposal, those we can burn, those we can stockpile until trash service resumes, and those that can be composted.

Do you have more than one large trash can to separate items into? Do you have a way to wash and dry laundry if the electricity is out? Do you have the items needed to compost? Do you have sufficient bleach, laundry detergent and other cleaning supplies for a 3 month self quarantine? Something to think about and them plan for…


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