This is Part 5 of a 6-part series on building an emergency BOB (bug-out bag) for you and your animals.
It’s easy to overlook hygiene items when preparing for an emergency. After all, they come in large quantities, so we only have to think about them when we run out, which isn’t all that frequently!
Pets and livestock take care of most of their own cleanliness: they groom themselves, they don’t need toilet paper, they don’t need to brush their teeth. But what about their waste? They may not care about where they do their business, but you do! Additionally, indoor pets may have a hard time adjusting to “going” outside, without a litter box.
For pets, the three main hygiene items you need to pack are waste disposal bags (for pets and livestock accustomed to going outside) and a litter box and litter (for indoor pets). If you already own a dog, you may already own a small, clip-on waste disposal bag dispenser, and you can fill it with plant-based baggies (like these by bioDOGradable) that can be buried and will break down – unlike petroleum-based bags that will never break down. A small litter box can be lined with plant-based liners (like these, also by bioDOGradable) and filled with sWheat Scoop, an eco-friendly, extremely light-weight litter. (Gluten-free alternatives to sWheat Scoop include Feline Pine and World’s Best.)
For yourself, you’ll want: toilet paper; toothpaste and toothbrush; hairbrush and comb; biodegradable soap (bar soap is safer than liquid – it won’t leak inside your pack!); a washcloth (this can double for washing dishes, as well); a towel; nail clippers; chap-stick; and hair ties. For women, don’t forget that pesky cyclical nuisance, and pack accordingly! Couples should pack protection. A couple of extra items that might come in handy include cotton Q-tips, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer (although you run the risk of leaks with bottles of hand sanitizer). Many of these items can be used for non-traditional purposes in a pinch, as well.
Extra batteries for flashlights and other devices and a spare charging cord for your phone can keep you operating when an emergency occurs. If you have an old cell phone, keep it near your backpack and keep it charged – although you can’t use it for making regular phone calls, most cell phones allow you to dial an emergency number like 911 even if they don’t have an active cell phone plan.
The items below are “extra” items that are not strictly necessary for survival, but can go a long way to helping you keep your sanity during an emergency situation. If you have room for them, go for it; if you don’t have room, though, they’re not going to mean life or death, so choose accordingly.
For pets, toys can keep them occupied. Rawhide strips, dental toys, balls, toy mice, and even sticks are good choices. Rodents should have edible sticks to chew on to keep their teeth worn down. Books, a deck of cards, crosswords or sudoku puzzle books, and other small entertainment items can help you pass the time.
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