Managing Sewage In A Major Disaster


Hold your nose on this one!

I know this is going to be an unpleasant subject to deal with, but Earthquakes, Tornados, Hurricanes, Terrorism Attacks, Nuclear Meltdown, etc. are likely to be more than simply an inconvenience. When they result in a widespread disaster, residents will be faced, immediately, with primitive living conditions.

Even if endured on only a temporary basis, dealing with such conditions requires ingenuity as well as fortitude. Sanitation is a health issue that must be mitigated at the outset.

Major problems that result from a power outage and /or delivery of water or disruption of sewage services can pose a major problem that will become apparent soon following an event. If toilets don’t work, some means of collecting feces, bile material and sanitary napkins will become an immediate and serious challenge.

Garbage bags

How to dispose of sewage?

Food waste can be buried.

Most food waste can be disposed of in a garden compost pile. There are even some potential positives that can result. The main thing is to get waste out of the home and contained in an area where the waste can be intermixed with soil to break down the decaying food.

Human waste requires containment.

While showers and toilets can function as temporary urinals in an emergency, some other way of dealing with solid waste is required. The best way to handle it is by inserting a heavy-duty plastic bag (Trash Compactor strength) in the toilet and adding a small amount of disinfectant after each use. The bag should be replaced; the old bag containing waste should be sealed and removed after three or four uses, and taken to a neighborhood disposal site or stored in a hole in the ground as far away from inhabited structures as practical.

These are “general suggestions” that may or may not be appropriate for your situation. We suggest that you deal with the alternatives in a local Community Emergency Response Team meeting or discuss with your local police and fire authorities. You might also inquire about the procedure for dealing with deceased residents or dead animals. Who can or should provide body bags or other methods of containment?

Supplies described in this article are available online. Neighborhood or community-wide planning groups should at least consider how they intend to manage sewage in a major disaster.


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2 Responses to “Managing Sewage In A Major Disaster”

  1. Russ Flanigan Says:

    Wow …well good morning and thanks for putting the issue on my radar. I for one hadn’t put much thought into this. Part of our household emergency kit for folks like us.hmmm

  2. Commander Says:

    You may not have thought of it — most folks don’t WANT to think about it! But I can tell you, all it takes is about 8 hours with no toilet flushing allowed, and you are in deep doo-doo!