I reckon I know 1001 different skills and techniques when it comes to frugal living, survival in the field, and tricks in keeping alive.
Yet personal hygiene comes out tops whether you are on the streets, in combat, or as part of your day to day living.
Remember even a simple thing resulting from a lack of personal hygiene, a rash or cut not treated, bad feet, poor water purification, or lax food hygiene, can render the mightiest warrior useless within hours.
But there is something else that can ruin your day.
Bugs, bites, stings, and diseases caught from coming into contact with contaminated material.
A LONG time ago I wrote a piece titled “Why being Shy may kill you”.
It’s all about bugs and the diseases they carry (UK orientated).
Then there was “Brown Stuff” aka human waste.
Have shovel will live?
Probably but not comfortably if you have forgotten the toilet roll and hand wipes.
That and one on Personal Hygiene, your physical and mental condition, and your well-being. It falls into a number of sections including:-
- Washing and grooming.
- Body observations (cuts, grazes, rashes, and bites)
- Mind and body
- What’s normal for me?
Because if you start having to do something different, is an ailment causing that?
- Toileting and waste disposal.
Human, cooking, and other assorted waste.
Very important if you are drawing water from a nearby source.
Or within an area with a high insect count
Except have you actually thought about how you wash and even how frequently?
Common-sense says to be clean is good and for the most part that’s right yet over washing can cause you loads of problems as you wash away the natural oils on your body.
Hang on, I just advocated washing everyday no matter what.
I still do yet the daily shower is now 7-10 days and as for a bath?
Washing in a creek is fun only what if the water was contaminated?
So that would make me a dirty sod wouldn’t it?
Nope, I’m clean and reasonably presentable most of the time.
I don’t stink, and have no “little rashes”.
Yet I wash daily as does the boss aka SWMBO.
However we don’t use deodorants, or talc, or anything even remotely smelly except the fragrance from the shower gel or soap.
Shower gel with non showers?
Yep, because you can use that stuff to wash your hair as well as you.
Hows about teeth.
Scrubbed twice a day BUT what if you can’t find toothpaste?
Bicarbonate of soda is what I use then and don’t forget to floss.
Another alternative is common SALT. Only rinse don’t swallow.
That also has an antiseptic effect on the mouth and tongue.
2. Body Observations.
Another issue about personal hygiene is bugs.
An early article called Why being Shy may kill you where it talked about the need to establish a buddy system so as to spot attached ticks, leeches even let alone signs that you have been bitten and something then fell off.
I again can’t stress enough about the dangers of becoming nonchalant about insect bites ESPECIALLY as they can be carriers for a host of survival unfriendly illnesses.
3 Grooming aka personal appearance.
Keeping you hair neatly trimmed and combed / brushed, shaved or well-trimmed beards, nails cut correctly, clothing clean, shoes clean, you know, presentable.
Why on earth worry about that in a crisis.
To feel clean, rested , and presentable means you have to work at it.
Funny enough you get used to the routine and that routine on the streets is good for the mind as well as your body for four reasons.
- Authorities are more likely to respect a well-groomed person.
Acting bold, strong, incisive, aware, trained, and used to dealing with authority and not scared of it, all affects the manner “professionals and quasi / para military will handle you.
- Others will listen to you too. It’s a visual thing.
Clean, groomed, and your manner almost demands respect.
Giving orders to untrained scared people is often easier for a person in uniform or one who appears to be all together in dress and manner.
- Living on the streets, or dispossessed?
You’ve really only got four choices to live on the streets.
Work, beg, steal, or sex.
Charity just prolongs the agony unless you are REALLY lucky.
You need money. It’s as simple as that!
Bitter experience has shown me that casual work always going to them who are well-groomed and talk intelligently.
Tough times was written from experience and not one zombie was seen in the whole time (if you don’t include the police, addicts, and PTSD sufferers).
- Regarding grooming and safety.
A presentable person doesn’t get so many kickings or as much harassment from the police.
You’ll also be handled better by the charity workers and any social workers.
Add to that when aid is handed out it’ll be the nice , clean, presentable person who gets the smiles (and often the best pickings), you’ll thank me in the end.
- What’s normal for me?
Get cast out from your normal life by circumstance or design and it will affect your physical well-being, mental state, and cognitive abilities.
Your weight will change as your diet does. Your skin will change as your washing habits change, all manner of things will “warp” until you adapt to your new life style.
So what’s the parameters I’m looking for:-
Weight. As diet changes your weight changes. Your muscle mass changes as your diet and the increase (or decrease) in your physical activity takes effect that could lead to your clothing no longer fitting.
Hair and nail condition and the eyes are REALLY important to monitor.
Both hair and nails are super sensitive to nourishment.
They go bad, splitting, cracking, falling out even, lack luster, pale, and you’re lacking something really important in your diet.
Eyes, the windows to the soul.
A quaint expression but if they start to look “haunted”, red, pale, watery, dry, tired, they often reflect very precisely what is going on within.
It is also a good idea if you take your vital signs at the same time everyday.
Heart rate, temperature, and if you can blood pressure.
Diabetes suffers will know all about taking regular readings and if you think about it, a glucose check for you won’t go amiss either.
5. Toilet habits.
How many SWMBO’s won’t pee behind a bush let alone take a dump!
It’s not limited to them though, kids, animals and men are all routine based animals and if you start monkeying round with that routine is has a direct effect on your body clock and what you “produce”.
Then there is the actual material.
Too loose, too hard, loads of it, not enough, color change, blood, worms.
What about urine.
Color, burning, none, too much. Clear is good, green is VERY BAD.
Breath smell and to a lesser extent body odour.
I could write a book about this and many others have.
Here is a short list of what I’m on about.
Diabetes. A Sugary smell (think Sugar puffs)
Constipation. in short, a shit smell.
Excessive meat eaters. Smells like sulfur.
Excessive Fruit eaters. Yeasty if not bread smell.
Booze. An obvious one yet would you trust a person who stank of booze to stay awake let alone carry a weapon?
Dying. A smell of slowly decomposing flesh and decay.
Once you have smelt it for the first time, you’ll never forget it.
In the field your sense of smell is vital to you.
It’s much more powerful than eyesight and hearing.
As for owning a dog? Their sense of smell is in magnitudes greater than yours.
There is another matter, it’s called NOW WASH YOUR HANDS AND BITS.
Go for a whiz, wash, a dump, wash, before scratching yourself, wash.
Food and drink, wash before and after.
It takes only a few bacteria or virus on your hands and you can get ill.
It also helps to keep your base layer clean or (to be crude) washing prevents skid marks.
So is that it?
In it’s most basic form yes and it’s no different to your daily regime (I hope), just working within an austere or hostile environment. The complication comes in a CBRN scenario.
From industrial accident or even products of fire to chemical warfare (VX and novichok)
From the common cold, norwork, or a genetically modified military grade pandemics.
From dirty bombs to full on nukes BUT don’t forget those industrial accidents.
From Boom to a reactor melting down (Chernobyl and Fukushima)
If you survive, personal hygiene can aid you survive the after effects of a reduced capacity immune system, to cross contamination from others.