Are you prepared for an emergency? Sure, you’ve packed a first aid kit, prepared your bug-out supplies, and have a stock of food, but that is only a part of emergency preparedness. One issue that many people overlook is the issue of sanitation. If your city’s water supply is cut off, or if you no longer have trash service, how will you dispose of these items? More diseases are caused by the spread of bacteria through the build-up of trash and human waste than nearly any other single source. Preparing for the emergency of home waste-disposal is an important part of emergency preparedness.
Disposing of Human Waste
Let’s get the grossest topic out of the way first. If your water supply breaks down, how do you dispose of human waste? There are several different steps you can take depending on your situation.
- If you have a septic system: If you have a self-sustaining septic system, you don’t have to worry about waste disposal as much. You can continue to use your septic tank. For long-term problems, avoid flushing toilet paper to avoid clogging the system. You can burn the paper, or simply wash clean with water.
- If your sewage system works but you have no water: If the sewage lines are still working, but your water supply is cut off, you will have to add your own water to your toilet to dispose of waste. Use gray water (recycled from other uses, such as washing) to flush the toilet. Always flush solids right away, but allow several cycles of urination before flushing to conserve water.
- If sewage lines are broken: If sewage lines are no longer working, you are on your own for waste disposal. You can bury your waste, but this runs the risk of contaminating your water supply. The best option for long-term waste disposal is to build an outhouse, just like they did in the old days. Make sure the outhouse is 50 feet from any water source and is about 5 feet deep. For indoor use, you can use a camp toilet or a small container with a tightly fitting lid. Dispose of the waste in the designated outhouse each day to prevent odors in your home.