Getting Prepared Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like-Minded Folks

Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer

The months seem to be flying by.  And as each month passes, I feel a sense of relief that that except for a short burst of extreme winter weather, my household has not had to dig into our emergency supplies for sustenance.  
On the other hand, some unexpected personal emergencies have come up, and with them a renewed focus on being prepared not only for the big events in life, but also the smaller events that can turn your world upside down.
What are we doing in month five of 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time?  In Getting Prepared Month 5 we are focusing on cleaning and personal sanitizing supplies and on taking steps to establish a neighborhood community of like-minded folks that are interesting in learning about preparedness.
This is going to be an easy month so let’s get started. 


  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plain liquid bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Liquid hand soap and hand sanitizer
  • Bar of soap
  • Disposable hand wipes
  • Disposable latex or nutile gloves
  • Canned, ready-to-eat soup – 4 per person
  • Portable am/FM radio with batteries
It is understandable that food, water and first aid are at the top of everyone’s list when they first start gathering emergency supplies; and to that end, yes we are going to add some food this month.  But before we do so, we need to take a tour around the house and gather up some cleaning and sanitizing supplies.

Why are cleaning supplies important?  Well for one, staying clean is necessary in order to remain healthy.  But perhaps equally important is the sense of calm we feel when we are in a clean environment.  Think about your own living conditions in normal times.  My guess is that you would much prefer to walk into a clean home than one that is littered with dirty dishes, towels, crumbs, dust and heaven forbid, grime and mold.  Just the thought of it makes me want to check in to a nice clean hotel room!

We are not going to go overboard with our initial cleaning supplies – just some dish soap, white vinegar and plain liquid bleach (which also doubles as a sanitizer).  With these items, you can pretty much clean everything with some elbow grease.  You might want to throw some rags into the mix (and of course, my personal favorite is what I like to call “magic rags” but are actually microfiber cloths.  And of course, you can keep those dirty rags clean with some dish soap and a tad of bleach.
And what is with the vinegar, you say?  Add about a quarter to a half cup (no need to measure) into your spray bottle, then top with water and you have an easy, inexpensive and effective household cleaner.

Clean hands are essential to good health

Anyone who has traveled a lot – especially by cruise ship – will know that being in a close environment accelerates the spread of germs from one person to another.  One of the best ways to avoid illness is to keep those hands clean.  For that reason I can not emphasize enough the importance of hand soap, hand sanitizers and some latex or nitrile gloves.
One thing to be aware of when shopping for your sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer is to look for products with an alcohol content of 60% or more – preferably more.  This is not an area to be cheap since the cost of these items is nominal to begin with.  If you are interested in learning more about hand sanitation, I suggest that you go back and read Killing the Cooties-Good Hygiene is a Survival Skill We All Should Practice which was researched and written after I became confused by the various marketing claims of hand sanitation items.

We will protect your privacy…guaranteed!

Okay.  So I have drilled you on the importance of cleanliness.  We are now going to take a trip to the grocery or warehouse club and pick up some canned soup.  This time we are going to get four cans per person.   I personally choose the Healthy Choice Chicken Noodle or Chicken and Rice flavors since they are not overly salted, but your mileage may vary.  Pick out something you already eat and enjoy.  Remember, this is not the time to experiment with something new and foreign to your palate.
Speaking of canned soup, I know you have already put away a can opener but is it a good one?  Last night as I was opening up a can of spaghetti sauce, I realized what a job my can opener was (an OXO Good Grips).  A good can opener (versus a lousy one) will set you back maybe ten or fifteen dollars and is well worth it.
And finally, the last item this month is a portable radio plus batteries.  Or, if you can swing the extra cost, a hand crank radio that also works on batteries or by solar power.  I do have two personal favorites:  the Kaito Portable Dynamo & Solar-Powered Radio and the Etón Red Cross Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather. Either one will serve you well but if you can not swing it budget wise, a good portable AM/FM radio can be had for less than $10.

Month 5 Tasks:

  • Make two photocopies of important papers and put one in the storage container, and one away from your home.
  • File an electronic copy of your important papers on a flash drive.
  • Talk with neighbors about organizing a neighborhood preparedness group.
Call me paranoid, but one of my personal fears is not having access to my important documents and papers.  The basics, for me, include copies of my driver’s license, passport, a brief medical history and listing of prescription drugs and dosages, pet vaccination and rabies certificates, and an emergency contact list.  I have copies of all of these items tucked away in my bug out bag, my emergency first aid kit, a relative’s home down in Seattle, and on a flash drive that I carry in my handbag.

Your list may vary, but whatever it is you consider important, just do it!

The Community is Going to Be Important

There are some folks that may not agree with me, but I truly believe that it is better to make friends with your neighbors than to consider them foes.  The more like-minded people you can gather around you the better.  And so, today, I would like to suggest that you reach out to neighbors or others in your community to share preparedness ideas and to perhaps organize a neighborhood preparedness group.
There are a number of reasons why I suggest this.
One important reason for sharing your knowledge with a group is that they will share back, and you will learn so much more than you could on your own.  You will learn what skills they may have that you don’t have, and when the time comes to work together you can spread the burden of chores and duties.  Another important reason is that by being friendly, you will begin to establish a trust that translates into watching each other’s back, keeping a collective eye out for bad guys or simply watching for zombies trying to get to your stuff.

If saving money is important – and these days I don’t know a single person where cost is not a concern – consider the economy of pooling purchases to get a group discount or to save on shipping.  Just last month Survival Husband pooled his ammo purchase at Lucky Gunner with some of his buddies and together they saved over $60 in shipping.  That is significant!
Another savings can be in book purchases.  It may not be a lot, but if you purchase a lot of survival type books, you can create a lending library amongst each other, saving $10 or $20 each time you borrow instead of buy.  The possibilities are endless.
Keep in mind that as you reach out to find like-minded neighbors, you do not have to form a large group. Even four people – two households – can make an effective group.  Start small, and slowly establish trust.  You will not be sorry.

The Final Word

Looking back at the calendar with twenty-twenty hindsight, it would have been so much more logical to start month 1 at the beginning of the year instead of October.  But as with life, we can not turn back the clock and start over.  We can only renew and revisit and keep up our efforts to soldier forward.

Being prepared has become a true adventure for many of us.  And while it may be considered a hobby for some, it is also a necessity.  There is a certain sense of calm that kicks in when you have the knowledge that you are doing what you can to prepare for unpredictable events in life.  Thank you for following along.

Month 1: Supplies, Gear and Tasks to Get You Started
Month 2: First Aid, Personal Hygiene and Home Safety
Month 3: Special Foods, Fire Drills and Home Safety
Month 4: Prescription Medicine, Cash, and Things to Keep Us Warm

Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.

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