Want to know one of my biggest fears in a real SHTF situation? It’s not the other people, the stress or even the struggles we’re going to face. It’s smaller, microscopic even. Bacteria. More specifically, the bacteria and parasites that cause food poisoning. In the United States right now, over 3,000 people die each year from food poisoning.
Today, with all of the medical facilities and support, there’s around 8 people dying from food poisoning, every single day of the year. It’s scary, and that’s now. With all of our utilities, running water, and conveniences of modern life, food poisoning is a real threat.
Imagine what will happen once these modern facilities are taken away. Once we’ve no longer got good refrigeration to keep meats cold. Once we’ve no longer got industrial processing and canning facilities. Once we’ve no longer got expiration dates on our supplies.
Spotting bad food is easy, it’s rotten, looks and smells bad, and of course, you’re not going to eat it. But the scary thing is that the bacteria that cause your food to spoil, aren’t the ones creating the poisons. In fact, you cannot tell if food is safe to eat just by looking at it. It may look great, but still be highly contaminated.
You need to think smart, to deal with food poisoning in a crisis.
Wash your damn hands
Whenever we touch something, bacteria are transferred to our hands. It’s just the way it goes, and if you’ve been doing anything in the garden, around your pets or are about to start eating (or preparing) food, it’s good common sense to wash your damn hands. That way, you’re not transferring anything to your stomach that you may have touched along the way. If you’re bugging out, use hand sanitizer. Or take extra care to not touch anything you’re eating with your hands (use the wrapper as a barrier). Dirty hands will make you sick.
Keep your cooking sanitary
Next comes your cooking areas, and everything you’re cooking with. Make sure it’s washed and clean before you start using it, where many survivalists go wrong is with their knife. They’ve been using it to hunt, to butcher, to cut and dig edibles, and then with a wipe on their pants for a clean, use it to cut off a bit of meat from the grill and eat it. That’s how you’ll get sick. Any time you cut raw meat with a knife, that knife needs to be washed thoroughly before cutting anything else, or being put away.
Raw meat is contaminated with bacteria. Every single bit of it, but not at levels that can hurt us (at least not usually, and not right away). But left to stagnate in the heat of the day, the bacteria will multiply on your knife, and pose a risk should you ingest them. Keep your knife clean, and wash any surface that’s had raw meat on it before using it for anything else. I skirt this rule by cutting my vegetables first, and the meat last. That way I don’t have to wash everything in between.
Boil your water
Bacteria and parasites thrive in water sources, introduced by animal carcasses and feces that contaminate the supply. Want to know how most people get food poisoning? It’s from the water. Never, and I mean never, should you drink directly from a source of water in the wild, it’s well worth the effort to simply boil the water first. You’ll kill all of the parasites and bacteria present, and the water will be safe to drink.
Only eat fresh
If you’ve not got a way to keep meat under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s going to spoil fast, as warm temperatures create a perfect environment for bacteria to form (unless of course you have a plan in mind to smoke or cure the meat), but that’s another story. My advice, would be to go for smaller kills, like a fish, that you can cook thoroughly, and eat fresh.
But sometimes, even when sticking to strict standards, food poisoning is inevitable. It might just be bad luck, or the result of a chance you took, and you get food poisoning.
Skip dodgy looking cans
Finally, and this is important. Do not eat canned goods where the can is rusting, obviously improperly prepared, or damaged. Botulism is one of the most poisonous substances known to man, and is generally contracted from canned goods that have spoiled. You can get an anti-toxin from some hospitals, but in a SHTF situation, you’re going to be in trouble.
Dealing with food poisoning
There are a few different strains of bacteria that cause food poisoning, but generally, you’re going to want to purge your system as fast as possible (to get all of the poisons and toxins out), while remaining as hydrated as possible.
You can expect to be bedridden anywhere from 3 to 7 days as the symptoms play out, from cramps, abdominal pain, fever, sweats, vomiting, and of course, diarrhea. If you’ve got an ability to setup an IV to run additional fluids this is a great idea (as the patient may not be able to keep enough water down), and drinking a mixture of water and activated charcoal can also help to absorb the toxins as you flush out your system. And stay away from the rest of your group, your vomit and feces are contaminated and can contaminate others too.
It’s better to be focused on prevention than trying to deal with food poisoning in a crisis. Because you’re not going to have time to be laid up in bed as you recover. So, play it smart, keep yourself and your cooking areas sanitary, boil your water, and eat fresh food. If something looks a little dodgy, even if you’re hungry, my advice is to skip it. Food poisoning will do a lot more damage than being a little bit hungry, trust me on this one.