a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What If . . . there was suddenly no means of disposing of human waste?

Bad things do happen to good people. All the time! And the kind of bad things, I am discussing, are no respecter of persons---or financial status---or social status---or. . . you fill in the blanks.

Do you know there are basically three kinds of people in the world?

1. Those that make things happen.
2. Those who watch things happen.
3. Those who wonder what happened.

Hopefully my What If. . . posts will help you be right there among the number ones. Each post calls attention to bad things that could happen, simple ways to prepare for these occurrences for if/when they do, and as a reminder  to those who have already started their preparation.

Maybe a bad thing hasn't happened in your country, or your region, or your neighborhood. . .yet. And hopefully it never will, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared----just in case!

The lack of sanitation facilities following major disaster can quickly create secondary problems unless basic guidelines are followed. 

Except for one small (and identified) section, the following information is provided by the National Terror Alert Response Center.

Water flush toilets cannot be used when water service is interrupted. The water remaining in the fixture is not sufficient to flush the wastes down the sewer. Clogging may result and your living conditions then become just that much more uncomfortable.

Even if water is available, local authorities may ask you not to use flush toilets, wash basins, and other fixtures connected with soil pipes. The sewer mains may be broken or clogged, which would make it impossible to carry off such waste; or water may be needed for fire fighting or other emergencies. It is necessary for every family to know emergency methods of waste disposal in case such conditions arise.

Failure to properly dispose of human wastes can lead to epidemics of such diseases as typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea. At the same time, sewage must be disposed of in ways that will prevent contamination of water supplies used for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundering, and other domestic purposes. Following  are simple steps that any family can take to prevent such dangers and discomforts.

If the water lines are damaged or if damage is suspected, do not flush the toilet. Avoid digging holes in the ground and using these. Untreated raw sewage can pollute fresh ground water supplies. It also attracts flies and promotes the spread of diseases.

Simply, Gail things----two steps you can take immediately with what you already have around the home. They require minimum storage space (while having the potential for maximum usage in time of need) and can be accumulated at no cost.

1. Save plastic grocery bags in gallon milk jugs. Rinse out jug and let dry. Replace lid. Cut out a hole in one side (most milk jugs already have a round indentation which makes it easy). Stuff bags into jug through this hole.  It is amazing how many you can cram in there! When the jug is full, cover hole with a piece of plastic or cardboard slightly larger than the hole and duck tape in place. Put in storage. (This bag holder is also very useful for daily use in “normal” times. We just hang the jug place  in a cupboard. The bags can be removed one at a time as needed. If you need fancy, you can buy them in stores for real $$)

2. If you are like me you probably already keep empty cottage cheese, sour cream, and similar containers around for storing leftovers. We also have a collection for emergency use—as containers for disposing of whatever needs to be disposed of, if/when there is a need. They would then also add an additional “layer” of secure containment, as discussed below.

Store a large supply of heavy-duty plastic bags, twist ties, disinfectant, and toilet paper

A good disinfectant that is easy to use is a solution of 1 part liquid bleach to 10 parts water. Dry bleach is caustic and not safe for this type of use.

If the toilet is NOT able to be flushed, it can still be used. This is less stressful for most people than using some other container. Remove all the bowl water. Line it with a heavy-duty plastic bag. When finished, add a small amount of deodorant or disinfectant,
securely tie the bag, and dispose of it in a large trash can with a tight fitting lid. This large trash can should also be lined with a sturdy trash bag. Eventually, the city will provide a means to dispose of these bags.

 Portable camp toilets, small trash cans or sturdy buckets lined with heavy-duty plastic bags can also be used. Those with tight fitting lids are best.
Tips for Staying Clean in an Emergency Situation
Keep a supply of basic hygiene supplies on hand, plus an extra supply of toilet tissue and sanitary napkins. If there is illness in the house that requires rubber sheeting or other special sanitary equipment, make sure that adequate supplies are available.

At least a week’s accumulation of daily newspapers will come in handy for insulating bedding from floors, and lining clothes against cold, as well as for the sanitary uses already mentioned.

If you have a baby in your home, you may find diaper laundering a problem under emergency conditions. It is best to keep an ample supply of disposable diapers on hand for emergency use. Or, any moisture resistant material can be cut and folded to diaper size and lined with absorbent material.

As much as possible, continue regular hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, combing your hair and even washing your body with a wet washcloth. This will help prevent the spread of disease and irritation as well as help relieve stress.

Keep your fingers out of your mouth. Avoid handling food with your hands.

Purify your drinking water. Use chlorine bleach, purification tablets (check bottle for expiration dates), or by boiling for 10 minutes.

Keep your clothing as clean and dry as possible, especially underwear and socks.

If, during an emergency situation, you develop vomiting or diarrhea, rest and stop eating solid foods until the symptoms ease up. Take fluids, particularly water, in small amounts at frequent intervals. As soon as can be tolerated, resume eating semi-solid foods. Normal salt intake should be maintained.

Temporary Toilet Provisions
Right after an emergency, or during one, you will probably not have the time and tools to prepare a complex emergency sanitation system. If there is a delay of several days in restoring sewage service to your neighborhood, you may find that disposal is a big problem. Your first task is to make some temporary toilet provision for your family, especially the children. Almost any covered metal or plastic container will do. You can use a covered pail, a 5-gallon bucket, or a small kitchen garbage container with a foot
operated cover for an emergency toilet. Anything that has a cover and will hold the contents until you can dispose of them will serve for sanitary purposes at first.

Emergency Sewage Storage
Keep on the premises at least one extra 10-gallon garbage can or other waterproof container with a tight fitting cover. This should be lined with paper and/or a plastic bag. And the lid should be fastened to the can to prevent its loss. Such a can may be used for the emergency storage of body wastes until the public sewage system can be put back into action, or until other arrangements can be made. Empty your emergency toilet into this storage can as often as necessary. A small amount of household disinfectant
should be added after each use. If you live in an apartment, you may not have a large garbage can or room to keep one. In that case, two smaller covered pails or other containers will do just as well.

Solutions for Apartment Dwellers
Persons in city apartments, office buildings, or homes without yards should keep a supply of plastic containers or heavy plastic bags on hand for emergency waste disposal. Where flush toilets cannot be used and open ground is not available for the construction of privies, such disposable containers offer a practical method of emergency waste collection and disposal. Building managers should plan for the collection of such containers and for their final disposal. Before collection, the used containers may be stored in tightly covered garbage cans or other water tight containers fitted with lids.

Homemade soil bags for this purpose can be prepared very easily by putting one large grocery bag inside another, and a layer of shredded newspaper or other absorbent material between. You should have sufficient grocery bags on hand for possible emergencies. A supply of old newspapers will come in handy for other sanitary uses also, such as wrapping garbage and lining larger containers.

Controlling Odors and Insects
Insecticides and deodorants should be used when necessary to control odors and insects breeding in containers that cannot be emptied immediately. At least 2 pints of household bleach solution should be kept on hand for disinfecting purposes.

                                               ------enough  seriousness------

The story is told of a little old English lady who was looking for a small place to live in Switzerland. She asked the local village school master to help her. A place that suited her was finally found and the lady returned to London for her luggage. She remembered then that she had not noticed a bathroom, or as she called it, a “water closet.” so she wrote to the school master. He was puzzled by the initials “W.C.,” never dreaming, of course, that she was asking about a bathroom. He finally asked for the help of the parish priest who decided that W.C. stood for Wesleyan Church. This was his reply.

Dear Madam,
The W.C. is situated nine miles from the house in the center of a beautiful grove of trees. It is capable of holding 350 people at a time and is open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday each week. A large number of folks attend during the summer months, so it is suggested you go early, although there is plenty of standing room. Some folks like to take their lunch and make a day of it, especially on Thursday when there is organ accompaniment. The acoustics are very good and everyone can hear the slightest sound.
It may be of interest to you to know that my daughter was married in our W.C. and it was there she met her husband.
We hope you will be here in time for our bazaar to be held very soon. The proceeds will go towards the purchase of plush seats which the folks agree are a long-felt need, as the present seats all have holes in them.
My wife is rather delicate, therefore she cannot attend regularly. It has been six months since the last time she went. Naturally, it pains her very much not to be able to go more often.
I shall close now with the desire to accommodate you in every way possible and I will be happy to save you a seat down front or near the door, which ever you prefer. 
                                     School Master


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