While it would probably be a little excessive to put a toothbrush and a bar of soap on your EDC list, hygiene is a crucial factor for survival. We can see examples of how important hygiene is for survival by looking at the military. Most people think of the term “causality” as meaning someone who was killed, but in reality, it means anyone who has become “battlefield ineffective”. In conflicts like Vietnam, massive amounts of soldiers were out of the fight due to preventable health issues related to hygiene. When you are relying on yourself in a survival scenario, being out of the fight for even a short period can start you on a downward spiral that could cost you your life. Here are a few important hygiene factors to keep in mind.
Foot health might be the most important factor in survival hygiene. The difference between life and death could be measured in miles, and if you can’t cover that distance, then it’s death. To keep your feet healthy and you mobile make sure to wash your feet as daily if water is available. Remove your socks at night, even in the cold. Air your socks out, preferably in the sun. And change them if you can.
Simply because the danger or hypothermia or dehydration have increased doesn’t mean other threats have decreased. The last thing you need in a survival situation is to eat after going to the bathroom or cleaning a carcass without cleaning your hands. This could cause you enough trouble when antibiotics and a sick day are options, in the wilderness, it could kill you.
In most cases, you probably won’t have a toothbrush. But that doesn’t mean that you should forget about the cleanliness of your mouth, but rather that you have to try harder to keep it clean. This is especially important after eating meat. Rinse your mouth if you have water, swallow it if you don’t have much. Manufacture toothpicks and floss from plants that you have tested for irritants using the “universal edibility test” we talked about previously. An infection in the gums or tooth can cause serious pain and fever that could have you out of commission and getting weaker and weaker.
While certain hygiene standards like body odor will have to be relaxed or altogether forgotten in a survival scenario, others will have to be given more thought than usual in order to keep you in the best condition you can be in. If you aren’t able to haul water, gather wood, find food, and cover ground, you are going to get weaker, and weaker, until you die. Keep yourself clean to keep yourself healthy.