The lack of sanitation facilities following major disaster can quickly create secondary problems unless basic guidelines are followed.
If the water lines are damaged or if damage is suspected, do not flush the toilet. Avoid digging holes in the ground and using these. Untreated raw sewage can pollute fresh ground water supplies. It also attracts flies and promotes the spread of diseases.
Store a large supply of heavy-duty plastic bags, twist ties, disinfectant, and toilet paper. A good disinfectant that is easy to use is a solution of 1 part liquid bleach to 10 parts water. Dry bleach is caustic and not safe for this type of use.
If the toilet is NOT able to be flushed, it can still be used. This is less stressful for most people than using some other container. Remove all the bowl water. Line it with a heavy-duty plastic bag. When finished, add a small amount of deodorant or disinfectant, securely tie the bag, and dispose of it in a large trash can with a tight fitting lid. This large trash can should also be lined with a sturdy trash bag. Eventually, a means to dispose of the sanitation bags will be provided. Only use this method of sanitation if no other toilet facilities are available following the disaster.
Portable camp toilets, small trash cans or sturdy buckets lined with heavy-duty plastic bags can also be used. Those with tight fitting lids are best.
Tips for Staying Clean in an Emergency Situation:
As much as possible, continue regular hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, combing your hair and even washing your body with a wet washcloth. This will help prevent the spread of disease and irritation as well as help relieve stress.
Keep your fingers out of your mouth. Avoid handling food with your hands.
Sterilize your eating utensils by heat. You can also rinse dishes in purified water that has additional chlorine bleach added to it. (Use 2 1/2 teaspoons bleach per gallon of purified water.)
Keep your clothing as clean and dry as possible, especially under-clothing and socks.
Keep Basic Hygiene Supplies Handy:
These basic supplies should be kept in your Safe Room, Go Pack and Car. Cornstarch
- Fingernail clippers and files Sanitary napkins
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper
- Moistened Towelettes or Baby Wipes A few bath towels
- Small hand-held mirror
- Liquid all-purpose soap
- Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
- Liquid Chlorine Bleach
- Ammonia (disinfecting aid)
Emergency Sewage Disposal
Water flush toilets cannot be used when water service is interrupted. The water remaining in the fixture is not sufficient to flush the wastes down the sewer. Clogging may result and your living conditions then become just that much more uncomfortable. Even if water is available, local authorities may ask you not to use flush toilets, wash basins, and other fixtures connected with soil pipes. The sewer mains may be broken or clogged, which would make it impossible to carry off such waste; or water may be needed for firefighting or other emergencies. It is necessary for every family to know emergency methods of waste disposal in case such conditions arise. Failure to properly dispose of human wastes can lead to epidemics of such diseases as typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea. At the same time, sewage must be disposed of in ways that will prevent contamination of water supplies used for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundering, and other domestic purposes. Here are simple steps that any family can take to prevent such dangers and discomforts.
Emergency Sewage Storage:
Keep on the premises at least one extra 10-gallon garbage can or other waterproof container with a tight fitting cover. This should be lined with paper and/or a plastic bag. And the lid should be fastened to the can to prevent its loss. Such a can may be used for the emergency storage of body wastes until the public sewage system can be put back into action, or until other arrangements can be made. Empty your emergency toilet into this storage can as often as necessary. A small amount of household disinfectant should be added after each use. If you live in an apartment, you may not have a large garbage can or room to keep one. In that case, two smaller covered pails or other containers will do just as well.
Controlling Odors and Insects:
Insecticides and deodorants should be used when necessary to control odors and insects breeding in containers that cannot be emptied immediately. At least 2 pints of household bleach solution should be kept on hand for disinfecting purposes.
If you have a baby in your home, you may find diaper laundering a problem under emergency conditions. It is best to keep an ample supply of disposable diapers on hand for emergency use. Or, any moisture resistant material can be cut and folded to diaper size and lined with absorbent material.