Health and Medical

Emergency Sanitation

People affected by disasters are more likely to become ill and to die from diseases related to inadequate sanitation and water supplies than from any other single cause.

(World Health Organization)

Sanitation is control of:

  • Your water supply
  • Sewage (human waste)
  • General waste disposal

Priorities of Sanitation:

  • A good supply of clean water for both drinking and washing
  • Proper and safe means of human waste disposal
  • Disposal of trash/garbage so that it is not detrimental to others
  • Proper food handling and storage to prevent food poisoning
  • Pest/insect/rodent control to prevent the spread of infections
  • Maintaining good, regular hygiene habits to ensure a healthy immune system

Emergency Sewage Disposal when Sheltering in Place (home):

Situation
Sewer lines are intact or you are on a septic system (except during floods) but water has stopped

Response
Use toilet as you normally would

  • Flush the toilet by pouring 1- 2 gallons of dirty water (“grey water”) from a bucket into the bowl.

Situation
The sewer lines are NOT intact, the house is NOT on a septic system and the water is shut off

Response
Use your existing toilet or make a Honey Bucket.

  • Place a large, heavy duty garbage bag into the toilet bowl or into a 5-6 gallon bucket
  • Snap a toilet seat and lid onto the bucket (seats are usually available at any outdoor store)
  • Put shredded bits of paper, saw dust, corn starch or kitty litter in the bag to absorb urine
  • Keep the toilet, buckets or containers securely covered when not in use

Emergency Sewage Disposal During an Evacuation:

Situation
Emergency Outdoor Toilet Facilities (no outhouse available)

Response

  • Make a Honey Bucket. Place a large, heavy duty garbage bag into a 5-6 gallon bucket
  • Snap a toilet seat and lid onto the bucket (seats and lids made specifically to fit 5 gallon buckets are available online or in outdoor stores).
  • Put shredded bits of paper, saw dust, corn starch or kitty litter in the bag to absorb urine
  • Keep the toilet, buckets or containers securely covered when not in use

Situation
Disposing of Human Waste

Response

  • Bury the plastic bag containing the waste in a hole
  • 18 inches deep
  • At least 100 feet from the nearest water supply

General Waste Disposal: The 3 R’s Rule

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

Garbage and Trash:

Garbage: food waste, paper products or most things that come out of the kitchen or bathroom, generally decomposes quickly.

The Two B’s of garbage disposal are:

  • Burn it
  • Bury it

Trash: any items not in the garbage classification.

Final note: Even in an emergency situation, proper disposal and handling of waste can still be environmentally friendly as well as healthy.