Emergency Preparedness Resources – Sanitation and HygieneThe lack of sanitation facilities following a major disaster can quickly create secondary problems unless basic guidelines are followed. 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.
- 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, authorities 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.
- 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.
- Sterilize your eating utensils by heat. You can also rinse dishes in purified water that has additional chlorine bleach added to it. (Use 2 1/2 teaspoons bleach per gallon of purified water.)
- Keep your clothing as clean and dry as possible, especially under-clothing and socks.