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By Kellene Bishop

While the thought of waste management isn’t sexy or glamorous, I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors if I didn’t teach about sanitation in greater detail. So here are a few things that you’ve just GOT to know about do-it-yourself sanitation for a prolonged period of time.

Sorry to have to say this, but human waste is a huge danger in a disaster. Many folks will just give up on any semblance of sanitation in desperate circumstances. When I lived in the Philippines, it was nothing to see a woman stop where she was going and crouch down and urinate wherever she stood. It was also common for people to simply throw their human waste out their windows…as if it was now marked as someone else’s problem. Now picture what may happen if someone lives in a high rise apartment in the center of a city not being able to flush their toilets for a week. They aren’t just going to hold it, right? I guarantee that “civilization” as you know it will cease when it comes to waste disposal. But wait. There’s even better news. A person who is healthy and has regular bowel movements produces two to three pints of urine daily and one pound of feces per day. I don’t even want to think about what happens when someone is sick from eating unsafe food, or stressed out. Ugh. And that’s just ONE person.

Flies photo c/o ufl.edu

Flies photo c/o ufl.edu

As shared previously, one small area of poor sanitation can kill everyone within a 50 mile radius. So it’s critical that you’re just as diligent with your sanitation preparedness as you are your food, water, and shelter. How can a bad sanitation area kill so many in such a wide area? The perpetrators are rodents, flies, and bacteria. Bad bacteria can travel three hundred feet from the original site of “yuck.” Flies live to spread feces and such from one place to another. And rodents are attracted to it as well. If they go in, they go out, and they then take the death germs with them. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? So you’ve got be mindful of not creating a festival of killer bacteria in the first place.

There’s quite the cocktail of formidable germs lurking in a human waste area. Streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli and shigella bacteria, some salmonella, Norwalk virus, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.

Immediately after a power outage you may still be able to use your sewer system by pouring water directly into the toilet bowl. But this method uses up a lot of valuable water and you run the risk of having sewage in your home when the home system backs up. I wouldn’t recommend living long term that way. Instead, plug the toilet up with a tennis ball to avoid sewage coming out in the event of a blockage. And then set up alternative waste disposal options.

Trench illustration c/o wedc.lboro.ac.uk

Trench illustration c/o wedc.lboro.ac.uk

One option is to dig a trench. Your trench should be 2 feet wide, at the very minimum, 1 food deep and four feet long or more. More importantly it should be FAR way from any type of living arrangements—especially FOOD! Since the bacteria can travel 300 feet, you might want to think about having your trench that far way from your living area. After each trench use, cover the area with dirt, lime, wood ash, I-Pee, or ChemiSan. Also, I recommend sprinkling a bit of diatomaceous earth (DE) after each use as it will keep the flies and other insects away, and thus further prevent the spreading of germs. (Note: Human waste should NEVER be used as compost for food gardens.) The downside of digging the trench is that it takes up vital physical energy. Thus some of the simpler methods may be necessary instead.

Another option is to use a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid. After each use, be sure to layer it with one of the aforementioned items. ChemiSan has biodegradable bags that you can use to line the 5-gallon buckets with. This will enable you to take the bags, bury them and know that you haven’t furthered the contamination in your area. (Check their site to find distributors in your area.) For our readiness, we have lots of heavy duty plastic bags, DE, and lime on hand specifically for this purpose.

Whatever method you use, try to construct a covering/shelter for the area. This isn’t just about dignity and privacy. Germs in feces can be propelled through the air easily. Thus, leaving the waste area immediately after applying the covering of dirt, lime, etc is important. Having some type of a door or at least a plastic sheeting is a good idea as well.

Be sure that everyone is diligent in cleaning their hands for at least 20 seconds after using the facilities. The same goes if you are changing a baby or elderly diaper. Be sure to get in between the fingers and under the fingernails each time you wash your hands. If you’re relegated to using hand-sanitizer, be sure to apply enough to be just as thorough as you would if you had soap and running water.

Boil cloth diapers to clean them. Photo c/o searchingbliss.blogspot.com

Boil cloth diapers to clean them. Photo c/o searchingbliss.blogspot.com

When disposing of disposable feminine products, they should be burned after use, not put with the other waste in the trench or bucket. The same goes for disposable diapers. However, cloth diapers and their pins should be boiled, then bleached, and then exposed to the sun for a couple of hours. (Do NOT use your solar oven for this sanitation purpose)

And lastly, you may want to invest in room deodorizers now while you can get them frequently for FREE with coupons. While you may not fathom being able to use 6 cans of Febreeze now, you’ll be grateful that you have it when your “community” is forced to take care of business the early 1900’s way.

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

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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