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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sanitation in an Emergency

 Sanitation in an Emergency

Sanitation is a hidden, deadly disaster that many people don’t recognize, understand or respect. In fact, dysentery is the #1 killer after a disaster. Normally we flush our toilets, and our trash is taken out every week. Our waste just disappears. In a major disaster, we will lose utilities, including sewer. What is going to happen when we have to deal with our own waste?

Health and life expectancy improved during the 20th century. Antibiotics generally get the credit, but credit largely goes to improved sanitation.

Watch videos below for information on a sanitation kit and how to handle waste.

Handling Human waste

Our city sewage plants operate on electricity. We can lose our sewage services because of storm damage, power outages and natural disasters that move the earth. Anytime the earth moves, in an earthquake for example, the pipes under the earth will break, leaving us without sewer services.

You can make your home toilet into a port-a-potty or dry toilet. Fecal matter is very dangerous. You must be prepared in advance. Practice and know how to handle the fecal matter and keep urine from mixing in. Keeping the solid and liquid wastes separate is important for disposal reasons, and because they can both be used as a resource if handled properly.

Convert your regular toilet to a dry system. It is already stable and comfortable and easy to convert back to a wet system.

  1. Process- turn off water, close valve and empty the water from the bowl (force it down the pipe with a toilet brush).

  2. Wash and sanitize your toilet bowl with tank water. Bowl and tank need to be clean and dry.

  3. Plug hole for health reasons (gasses and critters) with a rubber ball, lacross or racquetball in a sock, or cotton rag coated in shortening.

  4. Put a heavy duty trash bag in the toilet and secure it with duct tape all around the rim. Then put the seat down.

  5. When using, only use the toilet for fecal matter, not for urine. See below for how to handle the urine.

Separate, Cover Carry and Bury

Separate– Separate urine from fecal matter to reduce odor, weight and mass, reducing the number of trash bags needed.

  • For ladies and children, this is not convenient. Do your best.

  • Females can use a urine diverter called Feminette or Go-Girl.

  • Men make a urinal with a large container and a long funnel.

  • Keep the urine collection container right next to the dry toilet.

  • Urine is a valuable resource. High in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Urea is a major component of urine and can be used as fertilizer in your soil. Available when commercial fertilizer is not. Dilute with grey (dirty but not waste) water. Don’t put too much urine in one spot or it will burn. Urine is not toxic and it is sterile unless a person has an infection. UTI bacteria die quickly in the soil. There is no human to human disease transmission from urine.

Cover— If you put dirt, sand, clay, sawdust, peat moss, etc. over the fecal matter in the toilet, it will help with the odor and break it down. Have a bucket of dry organic material next to the toilet, with a scoop and stick to stir. After every use, spread a light layer or organic matter over top of fecal matter. Lay a piece of cardboard over the toilet when not in use.

Carry— lift bag out of toilet and out in bucket to carry outside.

Bury— somewhere away from the garden. Put where it will erode and is protected from animals. Dig a hole about 2.5 feet deep and 1 foot diameter. Place bag of waste beside the hole. Take bag by the bottom and empty contents so that it can be in contact with the soil to break it down. Don’t leave it in the bag! Drop the bag in on top of it and add 2 inches of dirt

Cover— Cover the hole with a board that is even with the ground and put bricks on top of it to keep rodents, insects and dogs out. Keep layering. When it’s time to cap it off (6-8 inches from the top) lay newspaper and lime, then newspaper again. Then cover with dirt. Lime will keep dogs away. In 2-3 years the waste will break down and this is an ideal place for a garden.

Options for Handling Waste

  1. Portable Bucket— You can get sanitation buckets with a plastic toilet seat included. Store the items listed above in the bucket and you can take your potty with you.

  2. Portable Toilet box— Use a plywood box (without a bottom) that is about the height of a regular toilet.

    • How to build: Cut a hole in the top, a little to one side. Hook a regular toilet seat with a lid over the hole.

    • Cut a piece of masonite cut a little bigger than the
      hole to slide under the toilet seat so no flies can get into
      the hole when it is not in use.

    • Can use over a hole dug in the ground or a bucket with a bag in it.

    • Every time you add waste to the hole or bucket, add 1/2 cup kitty litter, sand, clay, sawdust, dirt, etc.

    • Fill until 6-8 inches from the top then dispose of as listed above.

  1. Portable options for your family’s 72 hour kit— This should be highly portable, should seal well, and should be tested so you know FOR SURE that yes, it will work for YOU in YOUR family situation, and how long it will work for.

  • Portable camp style liquid chemical toilet, some use a bit of water to flush the waste into an out-of-sight container, others are simple plop-n-drop models. Know how yours works and what its limitations are by practicing with it.

  • Camp style dry chemical toilet, most of these use a dry powder to gel the waste, significantly reducing moisture content and thus, bacterial growth. Again, know how yours works and what its limitations are by practicing with it.

Short-term sanitation kit:

    1. Trash compactor type plastic bags (line your bucket or toilet with this first)

    2. Heavy 13-gallon plastic trash bags (inside liner for your bucket or toilet)

    3. Duct tape

    4. Twist ties to secure bags after use

    5. Rubber gloves to use for transport

    6. Wet wipes rather than toilet paper because they are more effective and take up less space

    7. Air freshener

    8. Bucket with a handle to carry full bags outside in

    9. Peri bottle to irrigate backsides with water

    10. Crystal type kitty litter

    11. Soap for hand washing (alcohol based hand sanitizers do not work in the presence of organic matter such as urine and feces, they just give you a false sense of security)

    12. 5- or 6-gallon bucket with a Gamma Seal lid

    13. Wood toilet seat with L brackets to stabilize it on your bucket (optional)

    14. Chemical camp toilet with lots of extra chemical and dedicated water (optional)

Other optional sanitation needs to store:

  1. Scrub brushes, brooms, trash bags, grocery bags, cotton rags, spray bottles, wash tubs and buckets.

  2. Calcium hypochlorite (Pool Shock) to make your own chlorine for cleaning and purifying water. Chlorine kills most everything except crypto and giardia. It only has a 6-12 month shelf life.

  3. Ammonia – store Steramine which is a dry ammonia product for sanitizing. Don’t store with chlorine!

  4. Vinegar – sanitizer

  5. Hydrogen peroxide – sanitizer

  6. Iodine – 1 oz. treats about 200,000 gallons of water. Follow Instructions carefully!

  7. Feminine hygiene – Diva Cup, Keeper, Moon Cup (soft silicone cups that are inserted and can be washed and reused.) Glad rags – reusable pads.

  8. Personal protection – gloves (vinyl and rubber), boots (rubber), outer clothing (scrubs), mosquito netting or tents, masks (N95 minimal) 

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