How to Manage Human Waste in a Grid Down Situation
How to Manage Human Waste in a Grid Down Situation
Like most people, you probably haven’t thought about what would happen to your human solid waste in a grid down situation. If you are on a sewer system, you need to listen up. If the power grid were to go down for an extended period of time you would need to take some serious steps. There are some things you can do to avoid having not only your own sewer backing up but also the sewage from your neighbors into your drains and toilets. Yes, this could happen!
Poop is a subject that does not make you jump for joy unless your child just went potty on his own for the first time. Even though it may sound like a taboo topic it is one of great importance. Learn how you can manage human solid waste.
During a grid down situation, you’ll need to turn off the water going to your home. Remove as much water from the tank and bowl as possible, the goal is to get it dry. If you try to keep using the toilet you may cause a clog and have a bigger disaster to deal with. If you continue using the toilet you will also increase your chances of having a back-up of not only your own sewage but that of all the sewer lines in your area. You could end up with raw human waste backing up into your toilets, bath tubs, showers, sinks and other drains in your home. This type of situation could make your home toxic and uninhabitable.
If you know that your sewer system is not going to be working for an extended amount of time you might want to install plug drains to prevent sewage from backing up into your home. These plugs are available on-line and in big box or plumbing type stores. It would be wise to purchase them now before you need them. There are a few different types of drain plugs you can purchase. There are test ball plugs, twist plugs, pressure plugs, threaded screw caps and back flow valves. If you do not have any of these and a disaster strikes, you can also put a piece of flat rubber over the drain with a piece of wood that covers the hole. You would then need to put a 2″ x 4″ on top of the wood that is covering the rubber and butt it up against the ceiling with another piece of wood on the ceiling to prevent the 2″ x 4″ from damaging the ceiling. This method would work in plugging the drain in an emergency. There is an excellent article describing the drain plugs and how to install them from the North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.
In a real pinch, you can use a rubber ball pushed into the toilet to help prevent some backup but this method will not be as good as being able to plug all drains in your home.
You and all family members need to know how to deal with this type of disaster. The first thing to do is turn off the water to your home. This will insure no one will accidently turn on the faucet and start a possible back-up into your home. Hopefully you have stored water for this type of disaster. Rationing water will be very important especially if you do not have access to any outside alternative water.
- Home toilet with all water removed. Line the toilet with a Heavy plastic bag and add light weight cat litter, baking soda, lime, or other chemicals typically used by the RV or camping community after using the toilet. (See possible shopping list below.) Discard the waste in the plastic bag when 1/4 – 1/3 full. You do not want the bag breaking while you are disposing of the contents. Wear rubber gloves and put the waste and bag in a large metal trash can. You will need to bury this if the disaster is of a long duration to avoid disease.
- 5 Gallon bucket with tight fitting cover lined as outlined above. You can also purchase a toilet seat for these buckets.
- If you have a medical commode used by sick or elderly people you can use it. This would give a comfortable height for family members. There are liners you can purchase that make using it much more simple.
- RV-camping-boat type toilet There are chemicals you can purchase to keep the odor down.
- Out houses can provide for human waste disposal as they did for so many years. If you live in the country or you have large a plot of land, this could be an alternative. If you live in close proximity to others, the outhouse could pose health risks. Each situation needs to be evaluated, now, before a need arises. If you can utilize the outhouse option, this would be a good time to learn how to make one that will function properly for your family. Evaluate your property to find the best area for building it. Make sure the waste will not runoff into your water source.
- Heavy plastic garbage bags
- Metal garbage can with a tight fitting lid (Plastic absorbs smells more easily)
- Toilet chemicals
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes (for clean-up)
- Cleaning wet wipes for cleaning toilet seat, bucket rims or commodes
- Sanitary pads, tampons, or diva cups
- Diapers – both disposable and cloth
- Shovel (even better to have in multiples – two is one, one is none – things break)
- Trowel (for cat holes in short term situations or in the woods) – just dig a hole (called a cat hole) about six inches deep, deposit your human waste and cover.)
This is really serious stuff. The potential for disease is great. Looking back at history during the Civil war the soldiers died of disease more than battle. Many got sick from the water that was available and poor body cleansing. The water contained human waste and garbage improperly disposed of. Many contracted typhoid fever, dysentery, diarrhea, and malaria. Flies, mosquitoes, and vermin spread disease from their access to human waste. All of these diseases could return without proper sanitation and disposal in a long term natural or man-made disaster.
Burying your human waste will require digging in a location that is not near your water supply and in a place that rain water will not impact. You will need to dig your waste disposal hole that can hold a large amount of your human waste bags. Try to make the pit about 200 feet from your home or on smaller parcels of land as far away from your home and water supply as possible. Make sure your pit is not above a water source as it will leech downward, always be on the low side when burying waste. After depositing your bags of waste, cover with lime or other chemicals and then dirt or sand to keep the stench down.
There was a recent incident in the county where I live in Florida. The pump station went out and sewage backed up into many homes. This is a rare occurrence during non-disasters, but it can happen. If it can happen when the world is relatively calm, just think how horrendous the problem would be in a grid down disaster type situation. The present time is when you need to prepare for situations that could totally disrupt life as we know it. Prevention is the best solution.
Possible shopping list
- Test-Ball Plug
- Twist Plug
- Pressure Plug
- Backflow Valves
- Threaded Caps
- Portable Toilet
- Bio-blue Toilet Deodorant
- Luggable Loo
- Commode Liners
- Diva Cup
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- Sanitation and Hygiene In An Emergency
- World Health Organization
- Garbage/Human Waste Disposal
- It’s Up to You! Are You Ready?
- North Dakota State University