Sanitation During an Emergency


Sanitation can be a serious problem during an emergency. When proper cleanliness is not maintained, disease quickly spreads.

It is possible in some emergencies that the sewer and/or water systems may be disrupted. If this happens, wash basins are not available and the home toilets must not be used because they will not flush properly. However, an emergency toilet can be easily provided.

Here are some materials for an emergency sanitation kit:

1. Camping toilets with a commode seat, a collapsible frame, and a supply of plastic bags can be purchased at sporting goods stores for a relatively low cost; or as an alternative, a sturdy 5 or 6 gallon plastic bucket with snap-on type toilet seat and a tight fitting lid can be used.

2. 25 to 50 heavy-duty plastic bags (10-15 gallon-sized wastebasket liners)

3. Four rolls of toilet paper

4. One gallon of disinfectant such as liquid chlorine bleach, Lysol, or chlorinated lime powder

5. Four pair of rubber gloves

6. Large bottle of hand sanitizer

7. Feminine hygiene supplies

8. Newspaper for wrapping waste materials

9. Two liter container of water

10. Two or three spray bottles

Using the home toilet when there isn’t running water, can be a mess. When it won’t flush, remove the water from your toilet bowl and line it with two sturdy trash bags. When the bag is half-full, carefully remove the bag, minimize the air content, and tie it securely for disposal (BE SURE TO WEAR THE RUBBER GLOVES).

The bag can be stored in a covered trash can until disposal service is resumed. An alternative way to dispose of the bag is to bury it in a remotely located hole, two to three feet deep. The same hole can be used for a quantity of bags. Cover the hole while open to avoid falling in it.

If you are not able to use a standard toilet because of damage to your home, you can arrange an alternative toilet.

• Put two garbage bags as a liner in the 5 or 6 gallon bucket and snap on a toilet seat.

• Sprinkle one tablespoon of disinfectant in the bucket. The liquid will deodorize the toilet contents. Sprinkle some disinfectant on top after each usage.

• The toilet is ready to use, and you can use toilet paper as needed.

• Use baby wipes or hand sanitizer on hands after each use and dry hands with paper towels.

• Replace the tight-fitting lid after each use of the toilet. The key to disease control is to keep the bucket tightly covered with a good lid. 

Disinfectant Options

emergency sanitationDisinfectant: When using bleach, use 1/4 cup bleach to 1 quart water. Other commercial disinfectants include HTH, or calcium hypochlorite, which is available at swimming pool supply stores, and portable toilet chemicals are available through recreational vehicle supply stores.

Baking Soda: Helps to control odor; it stops mold, fungus and mildew, and is a natural whitener.

Three percent Hydrogen Peroxide: (put in a small spray bottle, no water added) An antiseptic and a cleaning agent for minor cuts and abrasions. To disinfect toilet seat, just spray it on and wipe it off.

White distilled Vinegar: (put in a small spray bottle, no water added) Studies show that vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs (viruses). To disinfect toilet seat, just spray it on and wipe off.

 August 2011, Every Needful Thing                                                                 Jason M. Carlton

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