Somewhat coincidentally, yesterday the survivalistblogdotnet posted an article Lessons Learned From Christchurch Earthquake. This is an excellent article written by a civil defense volunteer living in New Zealand. This is a must read and goes into much greater detail than my article yesterday The Earthquake and Natural Disaster Emergency Checklist
In response to yesterday’s post, Beaverlodge wrote:
For item “Check for sewage and water lines damage”, you wrote if the sewage line is suspected to be damaged, one should avoid using the toilet.
What do you recommend people do instead? How does one deal with sewage when there’s no place to “go”? I know you do not want people using streams and creeks as their toilet. Cholera is the next reality when human waste is spread around so to speak. So an outhouse? A designated pit? A trench? What do people do when there’s an acre of pavement around their residence? Find a tree? That’s what they do when they walk their dogs.
A plan for this circumstance would be appreciated by those who will likely face this situation with everyone else in the city in a crunch. Not to mention those in the country who might find they are hosts to more people than their house can serve.
Good question. Here at Roche Harbor we have lots of wooded areas where we can build a latrine as well as tons of boats in the marina with well equipped sanitation systems (holding tanks, chemicals and such). Still, when the s*it hits the fan so to speak, where does one “go” especially if in the city?
The following article taken from the Missouri Department of Health offers some viable suggestions:
SEWAGE DISPOSAL following an EARTHQUAKE:
What will happen?
In an emergency such as a large magnitude earthquake, sewer lines will probably be damaged and become inoperable. Sewage may back up and broken water lines may become contaminated by sewage.
What Should I Do?
If stoppage in sewer lines is suspected or obvious, discontinue discharge of wastewater in house or building sinks and drains and stop flushing toilets. Avoid contact with any overflow wastewater or sewage.
If I Can’t Flush the Toilet, What Can I Use?
- Large extra-strength trash bags (double bags) may be placed in tight plastic or metal containers, with tight fitting lids, or used as liners in toilets. Household disinfectant can be used for odor control. Final disposal can be by burying or by sanitary sewer when notified by public health officials.
- A dug latrine or trench 2 to 3 feet deep can be used by bury human waste. Spread a thin layer of powdered lime or dry chlorine bleach and a layer of earth each time it is used. Mark the latrine site with a stick so others know where it is.
- Portable camp toilets, RV toilets, porta-potties, etc., can be used.
- High occupancy complexes such as apartments, condominiums, and office buildings should consider making arrangements to obtain commercial chemical toilets.
What About Sewage Overflow in My House?
Wash all contaminated areas with detergent and water, then rinse with sanitizing solution of one tablespoon household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to each gallon of water. Be sure to clean and sanitize all contaminated areas — pay special attention to cooking utensils, work surfaces and other surface areas such as floors and walls which your family and pets may come in contact with.
After reading this article, I have started an emergency bin labeled “Sanitation” and plan to add the following items:
1. Large, extra-strength trash bags
2. A 5-gallon bucket (which I will line with the trash bags)
3. Holding tank chemicals (such as the type used in RVs and boats)
4. Dry, powdered lime (which will also serve double duty as a garden additive)
5. Toilet paper. (Even though I have already stored away 96 rolls of TP for long term use and bartering, I am going to stash a decent supply in my sanitation bin as well.)
6. Personal wipes, bleach and hand sanitizer
7. Household bleach
8. Hand sanitizer
9. Paper towels
10. Potty pads for Tucker-man, my dog
Many of these items are already stowed away for long term use or included in some of my other kits. But if there is a natural disaster, and the public sewer system is toast, you can be that my all-in-one sanitation system in a bin will come in handy.
Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!
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Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day: Speaking of bleach, you can put the sparkle back in glasses and dishes by adding a teaspoon or two to your soapy dishwater as you are washing your glassware. I always try to use vinegar first (not as caustic) but if your glassware is really clouded over, bleach does the trick.