Sanitation and Survival: Dealing with Human Waste

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One of the most essential elements of survival when it comes to a SHTF scenario is keeping you and your family healthy in less than ideal circumstances. When you factor in that any scenario that will slow or halt the power grid means a serious lack of medical issues or access to care, it becomes even more essential to practice good hygiene and sanitation techniques.

And one of the most crucial aspects of survival sanitation is going to be proper disposal of human waste. The average person produces a pound of feces and 2 pints of urine every day. Dealing with these elements will be a very serious challenge in any major disaster. Depending on where you live and the situation, you have several options:

Septic Systems for Human Waste

If you’re lucky enough to have your own septic system and access to a steady gray water source, you’re probably in the best position. Because you aren’t attached to a city sewer line, you will still be able to flush your toilet. To flush without running water, fill the tank with gray water until the water reaches the float. You can then use the lever to flush.

Of course, even if you do have your own septic system, water may not be plentiful enough to maintain this system–especially in scenarios where running water and power would be down full time. In that case, then you’re better off following some of the non-water dependent procedures for dealing with waste.

Rural and Semi Rural Areas

If you live in or near the country, you probably have the most options for taking care of business, starting with the very simple cat hole. The single most important thing about digging a cat hole is the location. Any holes dug for human waste should be at least 200 feet from ANY water source, including runoff water. Underground well water, springs, lakes, rivers or any other source, keep your waste as far from all water as possible.

Using a shovel, trowel, or post digger, dig a hole roughly 10 inches deep by 8 inches around. Once you’ve done your business, use the dirt you excavated for the hole to cover your waste back up. Disperse your holes over as wide an area as possible, and try to aim for spots that get plenty of sunlight, as this will aid the natural decomposition process.

Urban Areas

Most often, those who live in city or suburban areas don’t have access to enough land to dig cat holes. In those cases, you can transform your existing toilet into a viable option.

Start by removing any remaining water from the bowl. Next, take a heavy duty black trash bag and tape it to the inside of the bowl, allowing the bag to fill up the cavity of the toilet before lowering the seat again. You can now use the toilet as you normally would. Keep a large box of cat litter or wood ash next to the toilet, and add a hefty layer over your waste when you’re done. This will keep both smell and flies at bay.

Once you’ve used the same bag 3-5 times, tie it up as best you can and place it inside a sealable 5 gallon bucket to be disposed of whenever you are able. Alternatively, you can drape the bag directly inside a 5 gallon sealable bucket and place your toilet seat directly over the bucket.

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1 Comment

  • By Chris, November 5, 2014 @ 22:04

    I found this article “refreshing” in light of it being such a dirty but realistic topic. Not only is it a great starter article on dealing with our waste, it also opens up to some endless possibilities when it comes to the doo! I often find it is a topic that is overlooked when in a pool of security or food. Dont just stop at this post. Do some deeper digging on dealing with waste. It is a huge key to health and overall survival.

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