Toilet Du Jour; emergency sanitation

Posted: 14/10/2009 in disasters, emergency preparedness, equipment, survival, Uncategorized
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There are a lot of “survival” shows being broadcast, along with a slew of books videos and UTube clips demonstrating how to survive anything from a crushing crowd at a Barry Manilow concert to fires in a high rise office building. All well and good in the short run, and some of them provide some pretty good tips. But there are some things missing that are really important. Not in all of them, but a good many of them. Simply put there are three main objectives to surviving; #1, safety; #2, nourishment; #3, shelter. Shelter could be placed under one, but you don’t always need shelter to be safe. Shelter is more of a comfort factor in most scenarios, unless you’re talking about colder regions where you need shelter to help keep you warm and dry.

But the second one, nourishment, means eating and drinking, and of course we all know what that leads to. The #1 and #2 jobbies. Many of the books that I have been researching as I prepare to write an upcoming book on survival have little to no reference to what to do with yourself after you have eaten and drunk your fill of nourishment. Obviously, we have two types of main disposal alternatives, pit and portable toilets. There is also the dehydrating type of toilet, and these are excellent choices if you can afford them and want to deal with the routine of cleaning them, but they generally use electricity, and power may not be available for your use of these toilets.

So, for now we’ll stick with emergency sanitation needs and tips. To start with, one of the main things to watch for in an extended emergency is the loss of a public or private water supply, leaving you unable to flush your toilets at home. If you have your own well, that’s a problem you can alleviate now, rather than after the fact. It would be worthwhile to install a solar powered pump on your well, or maybe attach a generator to your electrical system so that you have no loss of water when the public power goes out for days at a time. You could also have a hand pump installed as a backup as well in some cases.

But assuming you have no running water, and the sewer system of your city, or your septic tank on a private system is not usable for any reason, such as ruptured pipes from an earthquake, trash bags work well in the toilet. Have a box of ten gallon, or whatever size fits in the bowl of your toilet handy for this case. Double them up and have some ties handy. It helps if you can arrange a system where you can eliminate liquids into another container, such as a five gallon bucket for disposal into the ground directly. When the bags get so you can’t stand it anymore, tie up the bag and place into a double lined trash can for disposal at a later time. Once the water problem is solved, you may be required to flush this waste through your toilets into the waste stream, so keep that in mind.

Make sure you wear rubber gloves for this task, and wash your hands and sanitize after every use. The next step up would be to use a porta-potti or a camping toilet. The Luggable Loo© is a popular and very low priced item, and basically consists of a five gallon pail with a toilet seat attached. There are commercially available bags to fit inside, instead of using trash bags as well. And of course, you could make your own portable with a few odds and ends as well. The bags will still fit any five gallon pail, and are easily purchased at most mass market sporting and department stores such as Dick’s™ and Wal-Mart™. Also available are some chemicals that you can introduce into your toilet that will improve the odor and speed decomposition of the solid waste. I think the main trick is to minimize the liquid waste in the portable toilet as much as possible.

There is also a portable flushing toilet in several styles on the market. This one comes with a reservoir tank in the bottom and holds water for flushing. It’s kind of a La-de-da gimmick in my mind, and I would prefer to go the cheaper route and get the five gallon bucket set up instead. That way more cash can be used to stock up on chemicals and bags. The Double Doodie™ brand is probably the most widespread product on the market today. There are also small folding toilets that you can buy as well. The concept behind most of these products is to simply crap in a bag rather than in a water flushing toilet. It’s a simple notion, but it takes some getting used to.

Use your imagination and come up with your own portable toilet idea. I would suggest reading up on the idea and also to find out if there are any regulations regarding disposal of the waste. Just bear in mind that excrement is a biological hazard and requires special treatment. If you have a place where you can build an outdoor fire it might be wise to simply incinerate it if you can. Read up and learn, that’s the first step.

Another alternative is the pit toilet or outhouse. If you live in a community or rural area where you can get away with one of these, go for it. Build it ahead of time so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. And you can make it rather extravagant as well, when you have the time to do it right. States have laws governing these things so again, research first! As a general guideline, make sure that any toilet of the pit type you dig is at least fifty feet from and building, and don’t allow the waste to get within two to three feet of the top, so dig it deep, probably six to eight feet would be max, depending upon regulations where you live. Keep it disinfected at all times and minimize odors so you don’t aggravate the neighbors. One of those wind powered fans will help a long way towards keeping the air in the pit circulating.

The main points are to collect the waste, then dispose of it, all in a safe, secure and hygienic manner. Pick up some books and do some research. And above all, remember that human excrement is considered a biological hazard, and as such will usually illicit its fair share of legislation regarding its storage and disposal. And remember, when it comes to surviving the times, whether your crappy time is happy time or not is entirely up to you.

  1. They should have a portable toilet with them. This is a help in regards to their sanition problems. Portable toilets will be a big help.

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