When the Plumbing is Gone in an Emergency
Earthquakes have the ability to knock out electricity, water, and other utilities. So, what would you do if you had to use the bathroom after the earthquake had knocked out your plumbing?
The United States has one of the most expansive and efficient plumbing networks in the world. Since the idea of indoor plumbing started in the mid-1800s, Americans have laid down millions of miles of plumbing, allowing people to conduct their business, flush it and forget it!
Indoor plumbing was actually accelerated because of the discovery of viruses and microorganisms. Previously, people hadn’t worried about where they dropped their waste and many times it got back into the water supply causing extreme sickness.
What you’ll need
You can make your own potty disposal kit with a few simple things:
You can easily store all these items inside your bucket until you need to use it.
When setting up your potty, make sure that you lay the bag over the rim of the bucket and then place the lid on top. This will allow you to go without having to hold the bag up.
The Ready Store also offers some ready-made kits that you can purchase to save you from having to buy all these products separately. We also have some other types of toilets that you can choose from including a tri-fold collapsible toilet and a flushable toilet.
Disposing of the waste
If a disaster knocks out your plumbing for an extended amount of time, you may need to worry about where to dispose of your waste. If you think that your garbage won’t be emptied for a few days or weeks, you may want to consider burying the waste. However, that decision is up to you! The best way to bury the waste is to create a cathole.
Location. You’ll want to choose a place that is at least 200 feet away from water and places where people might be on a regular basis. Try to find a place with rich, organic soil. A forested area usually works well too. Try to choose a place that has maximum sunlight. South-facing slopes and ridge tops will have more exposure to sun and heat than other areas.
You’ll also want to choose a place that is slightly elevated so that runoff during a storm won’t just wash it into the local water supply.
Digging. Use a small garden trowel to dig a hole that is 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter.
Bury. You’ll want to bury your waste in the hole. Make sure that the waste is covered with the original dirt and disguised with native materials.
Latrine: Extended waste
Although catholes are recommended for most situations, you may want to create a latrine if you have young children or will need a method for more than a few days.
Location. When choosing a site for a latrine, you’ll want to use the same criteria as a cathole. Since there will be more waste in this location, you’ll want to make sure that you choose your location wisely.
Digging. Start by digging a pit that is at least 4 feet deep and 3 ½ feet wide
Bury. You can use the same criteria for burying your waste in a latrine. However, since the larger amount of waste will decompose more slowly, it’s recommended that you throw a handful of dirt in each time you use the latrine to help the process.
Housing. If you feel like you need to build some shelter around the latrine, you can add some walls and a roof to the latrine. Here are some instructions on how to build an outhouse.
Other things to consider
Toilet paper. If you have to use paper, try and use plain, unbleached, non-perfumed types.
Camping and Peeing. We found this helpful video for you that demonstrates how to create a cathole. He also addresses the issue of peeing and how that factors into waste disposal. This is a great lesson for campers to learn.
Updated April 13, 2012