Infection Control Prevention Guidance for Community Shelters Following Disasters

Community shelters provide housing for persons displaced from their homes following natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. In these settings, individuals share living space. Some individuals may have health problems, including acute or chronic infectious diseases. These recommendations provide basic infection control information that will help to prevent exposure to or transmission of infectious agents.

General Infection Prevention Techniques

Use of these infection prevention measures by all staff and shelter residents can reduce the spread of infections and infectious diseases.

  • Wash your hands and those of children regularly. Alcohol gels are an adequate substitute when soap and clean water are not readily available.
  • Maintain a clean living environment.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene techniques including the following:
    • Cover your cough with tissues, disposing tissues in the trash, and performing hand hygiene
    • Follow good hygienic practices during food preparation
    • Do not share eating utensils or drinking containers
    • Do not share personal toilet articles such as combs, razors, toothbrushes, or towels with any one else
    • Dispose of razor blades and needles used for medications in containers designed for sharps disposal
    • Bathe on a regular basis
    • Wash clothing regularly

Hand Hygiene

After an emergency, it can be difficult to find running water. However, it is still important to wash your hands to avoid illness. It is best to wash your hands with soap and water but, when water isn't available, you can use alcohol-based products made for washing hands. Below are some tips for washing your hands with soap and water and with alcohol-based products.