Keeping Clean and Staying Healthy When There’s No FEMA–Part 1

In Richard Bryant’s book, When There is No FEMA, Chapter 9 is about hygiene and sanitation. It starts with a quote from P. J. O’Rourke which says, “Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely.” That’s not just witty. It’s the truth.

If we find ourselves in a grid-down situation, or if we’re living out the aftermath of a major storm or other natural disaster, how will we keep clean and stay healthy when there’s no FEMA coming to the rescue? Does asking such a question show a preoccupation with cleanliness? Or could something as simple as a minor scrape or cut lead to serious infection and even death? Is that an exaggeration?

On this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, I talked about these issues and more with Richard Bryant, author of When There is No FEMA. In fact, it’s part one of two parts. We’ll finish the conversation next week. Rich was on DestinySurvival Radio with me a few months ago, and we spent a couple of shows giving an overview of his book. See what I wrote about those visits here and here.


Freshening Up with a Quick Refresher

About the book… Rich Bryant wrote When There is No FEMA as a non-fiction survivalist preparation and reference book intended to help you and me think clearly about preparedness to make our own decisions with our individual resources, experience and time constraints. His book strives to provide deep, detailed information needed by those seriously interested in surviving social breakdown, not only for individuals and small groups, but for entire communities as well.

When There is No FEMA is a large book–over 500 pages–and it’s thorough. It’s a must-have resource for everyone serious about disaster preparedness.. I highly recommend it for your survival library.

About the author… As founder and organizer of the Tampa Readiness group and, Rich Bryant has been deeply involved in the disaster preparedness movement since 2008. He recently moved to a small town in western Tennessee. Before being drawn into the world of disaster preparedness, Rich worked as a technology consultant specializing in information and physical security for many major organizations throughout the US.

In earlier years Rich worked on the family farm, growing up hunting, trapping, and fishing in the swamps and woodlands of West Tennessee. This diverse background of practical knowledge is the background with which Rich has approached prepping, and the authorship of When There is No Fema and


When There is No FEMA


That Dirty, Biggest, Little Enemy

Most of us take cleanliness for granted. There’s no shortage of soaps, body washes, shampoos and hand sanitizers of all kinds. We wash our clothes regularly. And on it goes. But what happens when we don’t have ready access to our modern conveniences?

Rich says our biggest enemy is the unfriendly bacteria and viruses in our environment. We need to understand that enemy and have the proper tools for fighting it. In a survival scenario, we’ll be in constant war with microbes.

Even now, before any disaster has occurred, do you know what bacteria are lurking on the door handle in a public building? What about that keyboard you use at work?


The Number One Rule

Observe where you’re putting human and animal waste. Look also at where you’re growing and preparing food. Have a distinct lline of physical separation between those two areas.

Poor sanitation comes from the mingling of human waste with food. Disease threats include…


  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid
  • E. coli
  • Dysentery
  • Gastroenteritis
  • MRSA infection
  • Influenza


Chapter 9 in Rich’s book describes each of these, and it gives info on prevention and treatment. As with the rest of the book, the info here is thorough and concise.

Think of what happens in the wake of floods. Sewage, chemicals and other horrible contaminants can be spread widely. Clean water may be hard to come by. That’s a source for trouble right away.

Disease vectors can also be spread by physical contact with other people, or their clothing and bedding, such as in the case of cholera. Or it can spread through the air, such as with flu.

Let’s face it. We live in a dangerous world as it is, without having to face the problems disasters can bring. But when things get worse, we can face fear with knowledge, and act accordingly.


Keepin’ it Clean

Wash your hands. A soap commercial on TV years ago started out with kids chiding their brother, “Wash your hands Roger. Wash your hands, Roger.” Well, that’s good advice for us both today and when coping with disaster. In my conversation with Rich, he talked about what both regular soap and antibacterial soap can do.

Have clean water. That sounds obvious perhaps, but the importance of it can’t be underestimated. Rich and I talked about the difference between the water you’d use for washing vs. drinking water. Certainly, you’ll want a way to decontaminate water and further purify it for drinking.

Havbe plenty of antibiotic cream on hand for treating wounds.

Stay well hydrated. Practice Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT). It’s described on page 226 in chapter 10 of When There is No FEMA. Ingredients include 1 liter of sanitized water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 8 teaspoons of sugar, and a source of potassium, such as a banana or white beans. Keeping well hydrated is critical for immune system function.

Have a good supply of bleach on hand. Or store calcium hypochlorite. If you buy it in the form of Pool Shock, be sure it doesn’t have other active ingredients.


Find Out More

As always, I can only give you highlights of our conversation here. So hear part one of my two part conversation with Rich Bryant by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for July 31, 2014. (Right click to download.) Order the book and get more info at

What steps are you taking to make sure you and your family keep clean and healthy during and after a disaster? Feel free to leave a comment below and share any thoughts you have on this.


Click here for Part 2.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.