When we talk about hygiene, we must discuss a topic that embarrasses some folks — where are you going to go when you have to, well, go? It isn’t always as simple as finding a tree out at the back of your yard. Proper disposal of human waste is essential in preventing illness. While toilets may still work even if the water pressure isn’t (you can fill the tank by hand), if the disaster goes on long enough, pump stations will get backed up and septic tanks will get full, causing overflows in the homes. No, that won’t be nearly as much fun as it sounds.
One option is to line the toilet with a garbage bag, replacing the bag as it gets full. The same principle applies when using a five gallon bucket. In fact, many camping supply stores now sell specially made toilet seats that will fit on those buckets. If the bucket is the option you’re choosing, you could even dispense with the garbage bag liner and just use kitty litter or sand in the bucket to soak up the liquids.
In either case, you can help make the smell manageable by sprinkling the waste with powdered detergent or baking soda.
Of course, there are many different kinds of chemical toilets available and you’re welcome to purchase one or two of them. But the options listed above are considerably cheaper, which would free up funds to purchase other supplies.
Keep in mind also that any container filled with human waste is going to be heavier than you might otherwise anticipate. Don’t let the containers get so full you can’t easily move them.
When it comes to disposing of the waste, there are basically two options — burning or burying — each with advantages and drawbacks.
If you bury the waste, it is out of sight (and smell). But it involves a considerable amount of work digging the holes and filling them in again. You’ll need to do this as far as possible from any water source so as to prevent contamination.
Burning the waste will involve less personal energy expenditure, since you won’t be digging any holes. But you’ll end up using lighter fluid or another flammable liquid to get the fire going, which is fuel you could use for other purposes.
Now, with all that said, there is also the possibility of building an old fashioned outhouse or latrine pit. While not the worst idea in the world, heading out into -20′ wind chills to squat over a pit is no one’s idea of a good time.
While there are many alternatives to toilet paper, most of ‘em are considerably less than ideal. Be sure to stock up on this vital supply, you can never really have too much on hand.
Be sure to also have the means available to wash hands after using the facilities. I have a friend in the military who has mentioned before how “ass and hand disease” laid out most of his buddies during some time they spent in the Middle East. It is a very real concern as the lack of being able to wash hands is one of the main causes for disease in third world countries. Hit your local dollar store and stock up on hand sanitizer.
Your assignments this week:
1) Determine how your family will be able to handle this admittedly somewhat uncomfortable situation. Look at your individual situation and decide how you will solve the problem.
2) Begin acquiring the necessary supplies, such as a five gallon pail and kitty litter. Set these supplies aside somewhere to ensure they don’t get used for another purpose.
3) If you haven’t added to your emergency water supply in the last two weeks, do so now. Add at least five gallons of clean water.