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By Kellene Bishop

emergency-sanitation-sewageSanitation is one of the ten critical components of emergency preparedness.  In my book, it is usually one of the top two that are most overlooked.  A lot of us take emergency sanitation for granted until our toilet breaks down or the sewer backs up.  Keep in mind, if there is a quarantine, who’s going to maintain the proper working order of the sewage services?  If there’s a financial collapse, how will we even have the wherewithal to send our waste somewhere else?  If you don’t take emergency sanitation seriously, then the consequences can be extremely dire—even up to a 50 mile radius.  Preventing waste from contaminating the soil is just as important as preventing the spread of any other disease as it contaminates crops, water, and air.  Additionally, as water will be scarce in a time of emergency, ensuring that it does not get contaminated with improper sanitation habits is critical.  

High amounts of hydrogen sulfide results from human waste.  It not only smells horrible but can also be very dangerous if a great deal of build-up occurs locally.  Flies, rodents, and other unwelcome “guests” are attracted to the smell of fecal matter.  Flies actually consume it.  Unfortunately, this also means that human waste is speedily spread to humans via flies and rodents to multiple locations and can subsequently affect an entire community with a sanitation disaster within 48 hours.  Thus ensuring that your toilets are covered and you have the ability to break down the waste is critical in order to ensure the best health in a stressful circumstance.

Your Toilet photo c/o ehow.com

Your Toilet photo c/o ehow.com

Your first line of defense for emergency sanitation will still be the toilet in your own home—for a little while at least.  You may only have enough time to build an alternative source, but you should at least have some time to implement these initial strategies.  So long as you have water supply, flush conservatively.  When you aren’t able to flush any longer, plan on pouring water down the toilet to get rid of the waste.  (Think how fast you’ll be using that water folks.  Now do you start to see why I say a gallon per person, per day is the minimum amount you want to store?  Although, keep in mind, you can use dish water, laundry water, or leftover cooking water for this purpose.)  After you no longer have this option, plan on using the toilet as more of a “bucket.”  Turn off all of the water to the toilet, and then plug it up with a tennis ball to ensure that no sewage comes through.  Then line your toilet with a bio-degradable, compostable bag.  When you’ve exhausted the use of that bag, seal it, and then bury it so it will decompose properly.

In the eventual likelihood that you will have to move your “outhouse” outdoors, there are several additional considerations for emergency sanitation.  Obviously, you want to keep it away from any food or water supply.  But you will want to be sure that you have chlorinated lime or bleach on hand to chemically and safely break down the waste matter.  (Note: Powdered, chlorinated lime is available at building supply stores and it can be used dry.  Be sure to get chlorinated lime and not quick lime, which is highly alkaline and corrosive.)

Toilet Lid for 5 Gallon Bucket photo c/o amazon.com

Toilet Lid for 5 Gallon Bucket photo c/o amazon.com

Every single time a person uses the toilet, some type of disinfectant should be sprinkled on top.  It can be chlorinated lime, bleach, or even some other household disinfectants such as Pinesol, Lysol Cleaner, Arm & Hammer cleaners, plain baking soda, laundry detergent, etc.  (All of which, by the way, I’ve obtained for dirt cheap lately using my coupon strategies.)  Remember, regardless of the smell or condition of your toilet area, it should always be kept well covered for emergency sanitation.  Don’t use DRY bleach.  It can eat away at your bags and containers.

We have a few options on hand in our home in addition to the indoor toilet.  We have a 5-gallon bucket that has a “toilet lid” which fits securely on top. If you’re going to use the bucket method, I recommend you line it with a garbage bag, then fill it with about ¾ a gallon of water with one cup of liquid chlorine bleach.  This will help in breaking down the smell and the waste immediately upon use.  (I have a lot of Acco clips stored to help ensure that the plastic bags stay in place.) When the bucket is about half full (no more) seal off the bag and bury it properly.  If you have babies in diapers, be sure to store their used diapers in this bag as well and dispose of accordingly. 

Gotta Go Toilet from ChemiSan

Gotta Go Toilet from ChemiSan

We also have a “Gotta Go” potty from ChemiSan.  We’re sure to also have plenty of garbage bags, plastic gloves, and disinfectants available.  What good is making a great meal if the aroma is overwhelmed by the nausea you feel as a result of the pervasive stench of sanitation problems?  I actually highly recommend the ChemiSan products.  (Do a Google search to find a dealer near you.)  They are truly amazing in ensuring proper sanitation.  The ChemiSan company has portable toilets made of cardboard, ideal bags for the disposal of waste, and of course, their ChemiSan powder product that actually consumes the human waste in a matter of hours, neutralizing the odors so that flies and other rodents aren’t attracted to the waste area.  (This powder can be obtained in small, individual packages—ideal for camping as well.)

In addition to the human waste aspect of emergency sanitation, be sure that you consider the most sanitized way of disposing of your regular garbage.  If you drain your garbage of all liquid, it can be stored longer.  Obviously, the ability to burn your garbage is ideal.  Both garbage and human waste should be buried no less than 12 inches deep in the ground, preferably 18 to 24 inches.

Perhaps not so obvious to some is to ensure that you are constantly keeping your hands clean.  Typhoid fever, amoebic dysentery, diarrhea, infectious hepatitis, salmonella and giardia are diseases that spread rapidly in times of emergency and threaten the lives of all of those around you.  Yet these are all diseases that can easily be controlled by simply following the rules of good sanitation.   

Along these same lines of emergency sanitation, do you even know how much toilet paper your family goes through in a week so you can plan accordingly?  If not, then the next time you put a new roll of t.p. on, use a Sharpie and mark the date on the inside of the roll that you’re putting it on.  Then when it’s empty, check the date and you’ll eliminate the guessing.  In my opinion, you can never have too much toilet paper, especially for emergency sanitation.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o blog.ecolect.net

Photo c/o blog.ecolect.net

Today we’re going to explore the uses of items from the toilet to the tropics.  (I’m sure I would have received a D- if I had started out a term paper this way.  But I just couldn’t resist.)  Toilet paper rolls and banana peels.  How about that combination?  

Let’s start with the toilet paper roll.  Who knew something so simple can be so darn useful to us?  Shhh… don’t tell Charmin, they’ll raise the price!  In addition to toilet paper rolls, you can also make good use of the foil, saran wrap, paper towels, and wrapping paper rolls.  (I’m cringing right now as I realize all of toilet paper rolls that I’ve had a hand in throwing away before I got smart.)  

  1. For starters, although it’s not very sexy, you can cut up the rolls up into small pieces and use them in your compost pile.  They help your plants to retain moisture and are a deterrent to weed growth. 
  2. You can also roll out toilet paper rolls flat, punch a few holes in them and then line the bottom of your plant pots with them.  This will allow the water to flow through, but not the soil, and still provide a weed deterrent as well. 
  3. Photo c/o mrbrownthumb.blogspot.com

    Photo c/o mrbrownthumb.blogspot.com

    One of the best ways to use cardboard rolls though is as peat pots for starter for your plants. These work great for seedlings or small cuttings.  Talk about easy and economical!  And hey, it’s even environmentally friendly, too!  Simply cut the roll in about 3 inch size in length, keeping the roll intact.  Then cut into one end at the Noon, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 spot, about a half inch deep.  Now fold in the “flaps” that you’ve made, to create a solid bottom so that the roll will stand on its own easily. It will resemble a square bottom.  Place the rolls into a shallow, flat garden tray.  (You can get the plastic ones for free at garden centers!)  Add your potting mix, and then plant your seed or cutting.  Water until the rolls are wet, otherwise the rolls will soak up the water from your plants in the future.  If necessary, water the rolls from the side instead of directly overhead to ensure unnecessary disturbance to the seeds.  You can make longer peat pots for larger plants such as tomatoes or woody cuttings as it will encourage the roots to grow downward.

    Once your seedlings/cuttings are ready to live life on their own in your garden, all you need to do is place them in the soil or your preferred container while still in the cardboard contraption.  The cardboard will break down and become a part of your soil just like you would expect in a peat pot.  This strategy really enables you to get a head start on your plantings for the spring, summer, and fall!  

  4. You can also use flattened cardboard rolls just below your top soil or mulch to prevent weed growth and foster better water retention. 
  5. To keep weeds out of your pots, unroll cardboard rolls and place them on top of the soil, under a layer of mulch or rocks, much as you would use cardboard boxes in your garden. 

These cardboard rolls are so valuable, if I were you, I’d beg your friends and neighbors who “just aren’t into it” to give them to you.  Your garden and trees will thank you!

Banana Peels—Nope, you don’t want to throw these out either.  After all, someone could slip and fall, right? 

  1. Banana peels are a great source of nutrition for your garden, especially your flower garden!  Simply break them down into smaller pieces so that you can work them a few inches deep into the surrounding soil.  Aphids hate these, so bananas are ideal for your tomatoes, trees, and roses. 
  2. You can dry banana peels out and then grind them down as a great potassium-rich fertilizer or you can simply add them to your compost pile. 
    Photo c/o Heart Windows Art

    Photo c/o Heart Windows Art

     

  3. They will also attract bees, butterflies, and birds.  Simply put the small pieces of banana peel below your bird seed and your bird viewing will be heightened, as will the fertilization of your plants and trees by the bees.  
  4. A banana peel also serves as a great shoe polisher or silver polisher.  (Dry it out a bit first.)  Simply use the inside of the peel, and buff away.  This also works GREAT for shining up your plant leaves and it feeds the leaves nutrients as well.
  5. If your teeth are getting a bit yellow, use the inside of the banana peel to rub your teeth in a circular motion.  After 2 weeks you will indeed notice a difference.  (Although I would use a fresh peel for this, not an old one.  Yuck!  So just think “eat a banana, shine my teeth.”)
  6. Most horses like banana peels as an occasional treat also.  
  7. Believe it or not, many nations wrap their meat in a banana peel when roasting it, resulting in a more tender meat when it’s done.  Somehow the food avoids tasting “tropical.” 
  8. Lastly, you can use the inside of a banana peel to ease a mosquito bite, even an ant bite.   

And if you ever DO slip on a banana peel and hurt your back, you can always make a paste of meat tenderizer and water and add some warm heat to the “owie.”  Really.  It works!  

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!