Personal Hygiene Services

In times of disaster, providing for basic everyday needs can bring great comfort to evacuees forced to abandon their home and possessions. Personal Hygiene Services include providing toilets, toiletries, shower facilities, and laundry services. According to the report, Heralding Unheard Voices: The Role of Faith-Based and Non-Governmental Organizations During Disaster (PDF):

Personal hygiene is directly related to several other factors. Shelters need to be kept clean and hygienic. Food needs to be prepared in a clean, uncontaminated environment. Without the ability to clean and disinfect themselves, evacuees face disease and discomfort. Personal hygiene is related to a person’s sense of well-bring. It is a factor in physical reconstruction services; relief workers and volunteers need the means to remove and clean contaminated materials and waste from their bodies and clothing (p. 53).

Local churches may wish to provide any one of these Personal Hygiene Services:

  • Toilets: Give special attention to maintaining the cleanliness of toilet facilities; especially, when facilities are not equipped to accommodate large numbers of people over long periods. This also applies to points of distribution, warehouses, walk-in kitchens, and other service areas where portable toilets are used. Make it a priority to create hospital and hygienic conditions for evacuees, relief workers and volunteers.

  • Toiletries: Consider assembling personal hygiene kits for distribution to evacuees. This can be a special campaign or ongoing ministry at your church. Click here (PDF) for a Sample Personal Hygiene Kit.

    Other toiletry items, such as toilet paper, hand soap, hand gel sanitizer, paper hand towels, and large trash cans and trash bags for bathrooms and general living areas, can be acquired and distributed to shelters to help maintain healthy living conditions.

  • Shower Facilities: Showers are a necessity for evacuees, relief workers and volunteers exposed to potentially hazardous environments caused by disasters. Local churches can purchase building shells and plumbing materials and convert rooms into showers to add capacity to existing church sheltering facilities or to support other shelters. Churches with suitable shower facilities can also coordinate with facilities not intended to be shelters, such as schools and recreation buildings, to transport people to their location to use showers.

  • Laundry Services: Churches can serve their community by offering outsourced laundry services to shelters, individuals in the congregation or partnering relief organizations. Local churches serving as shelters should consider purchasing washing machines and dryers for use onsite.

For More Information:

Read the Findings, Limitations and Challenges, and Best Practices of Personal Hygiene Services presented on pages 57-58 in the report entitled, Heralding Unheard Voices: The Role of Faith-Based and Non-Governmental Organizations During Disaster (PDF).

Other community involvement opportunities include the following:

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