Friday, August 9, 2013

1885 Water Rules in Kansas

The August 13, 1885 edition of the Thomas County Cat (Colby’s first newspaper) contained a listing of Rules imposed by the Kansas State Board of Health – directing every county and Municipal Board of Health in the state to see that they are strictly enforced in their respective jurisdictions.  Rule 1 is:  “No privy vault, cesspool or reservoir into which a privy, water closet, stable or sink Is drained, except it be water-tight, shall be established or permitted within fifty feet of any well, spring or other source of water used for drinking or culinary purposes.”   The next six rules also deal with protection of drinking water, which I thought was pretty interesting.

I also found the later rules for disinfection pretty cool as well.    For example, Rule 19:  “The room into which a person sick with small-pox,  varioloid,  scarlet fever, or diphtheria Is placed, must previously be cleared of all carpets, needless clothing, drapery and all other articles likely to harbor the disease. After the death or recovery of the sick, the room, furniture and other contents not to be destroyed must be immediately thoroughly disinfected.  The paper on the walls and ceilings, if any, must be removed and completely burned. The floor, woodwork and wooden furniture must be painted over with a solution of corrosive sublimate made by dissolving one ounce of corrosive in six gallons of water; let it remain one hour, and wash off with clean water. The walls, if not papered, must be thoroughly scrubbed and whitewashed.  For the sick room, small pieces of rags should be substituted for handkerchiefs, and when once used must be immediately burned.

And Rule 22:  “Fumigation with brimstone is a good method for disinfecting the house. For this purpose the rooms to be disinfected must be vacated. Heavy clothing, blankets, bedding and other articles which cannot be treated with zinc solution, must be opened and exposed during fumigation. To disinfect an ordinary room with brimstone:  Having tightly closed all the openings of the room, place in an open earthen dish one pound of brimstone, and burn for twelve hours, being careful not to breathe the fumes. After fumigation, the rooms must be thoroughly aired by opening the doors and windows for several hours.”

And finally Rule 23:  “All articles which have been in contact with persons sick with contagious or infectious diseases, too valuable to be destroyed,  should be treated as follows: (a) Cotton, linen, flannel, blankets, etc., should be put in boiling hot zinc solution, introducing piece by piece; secure through wetting, and boil for at least one hour. (b) Heavy woolen clothing, silks, furs, stuffed bed covers, beds and other articles which cannot be  treated with the zinc solution, should be hung In the room during fumigation, their surfaces thoroughly exposed and pockets being turned inside out. Afterward they should be hung in the open air, beaten and shaken. Pillows, bed, stuffed mattresses, upholstered furniture, etc., should be cut open, the contents spread out and thoroughly fumigated. Carpets are best fumigated on the floor, but must afterward be removed to the open air and thoroughly beaten."
Seems like the Board of Health was pretty serious about halting the dreaded diseases of the era.  And Kudos to anyone who knew what “varioloid” means.  I didn’t, but looked it up – initially thinking it was some contagious form of varicose veins.  Nah, I didn’t really think that, but I didn’t know what it really was.  For those who don’t have the time to look it up, it’s a mild form of smallpox affecting people who have already had the disease or have been vaccinated against it.  Now, be sure to use it in a sentence at least once a day for the next three days!

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