Preparedness Information: Sanitation
Preparedness Information: Sanitation
It is easy to take garbage collection and sewage disposal for granted because of the apparent low-tech approaches used. However, both rely heavily on power and technology, and the systems may not work properly during or after an emergency.
After a major disaster, if water and sewage lines have been disrupted, you may need to improvise emergency sanitation facilities.
Always have basic sanitation supplies on hand.
- Medium-sized plastic bucket with tight lid.
- Plastic garbage bags and ties (heavy duty).
- Household chlorine bleach.
- Soap, liquid detergent.
- Toilet paper and moist towelettes (baby wipes)
To Build a Makeshift Toilet
If sewage lines are broken but the toilet bowl is usable, place a doubled garbage bag inside the bowl. If the toilet is completely backed up, make your own. Line a medium sized bucket with a garbage bag and make a toilet seat out of two boards placed parallel to each other across the bucket. An old toilet seat will also work.
To Help Keep It More Sanitary
After each use, pour a disinfectant (see below) into the container. This will help avoid infection and stop the spread of disease. Cover the container tightly when not in use.
To Dispose of Waste
- Bury garbage and human waste to avoid the spread of disease. Dig a pit 2 to 3 feet deep and at least 100 feet from any body of water, and - in particular - from any well, spring, or water supply.
- If the garbage cannot be buried immediately, strain any liquids into the emergency toilet. Wrap the residue in several layers of newspapers and store it in a large can with a tight-fitting lid. Place the can outside until it can be properly disposed of.
Solutions for Cleaning or Disinfecting
- The best choice is a solution of 1 part liquid chlorine bleach to 10 parts water, using regular household bleach.
- Other commercial disinfectants include calcium hypochlorite, available at swimming pool stores; portable chemical toilets, available at most recreational vehicle supply stores; and powdered, chlorinated lime, available at building supply stores.
Keeping clean is essential to good health. Because water is so precious and should be reserved for drinking purposes, consider other ways to wash the body.
Water Substitutes for Cleansing
- Rubbing alcohol
- Lotions containing alcohol
- Shaving lotion
- Face creams and lotions
- Moist towelettes
- Wet wash cloth
- Makeshift shower - Use a spray bottle to shower.
Consuming contaminated water and food can cause diarrhea, food poisoning, and intestinal diseases. Take steps to protect against diseases.
- DO NOT ACCEPT food or water from unknown source.
- Keep body, hands, and cooking and eating utensils clean.
- Use clean, single-use eating and drinking utensils or eat from the original food containers if water is not available for washing dishes.
- Wash and peel all fruits and vegetables. Keep all food in covered containers.
- Prepare only as much as will be eaten at each meal. Avoid leftovers if there is no refrigeration.
- Keep food preparation surfaces clean and avoid contact between raw and ready-to-eat food.
Controlling Rodents and Insects
- Keep living area clear of debris, garbage, refuse, and body wastes.
- When possible, repair holes to keep out rodents.
- Household insecticides will work in small and enclosed areas.
- Store garbage in plastic garbage bags or in watertight containers with tight fitting lids.
- Until normal garbage collection can be resumed, never store garbage at home longer than three to seven days. If possible, garbage should be buried daily.
- Keep garbage as far as possible away from food service, medical stations or housing areas.
- Keep animals from disturbing buried or stored waste.