I am really glad that Utah is having The Great Utah Shake Out (the statewide earthquake drill that is being held on Tuesday, April 17th at 10:15 a.m.) The reason that I am so happy about it is because people that have never talked about the “what if”, is now talking. They are talking about what if an earthquake hits and everybody is at school or work? What do they do? (See article #76: Family Plan to help you create a family plan.) It warms my heart that these and other emergency preparations are being openly discussed at home and in the work place. Finally.
Check out article #3: Under Bed Kit for if the earthquake happens when you are all at home, possibly in the middle of the night when everybody is asleep.
One of the local news channels is really promoting The Great American Shake Out on a nightly basis. They are doing more than just talking about, “Drop, Cover and Hold On!” They have been going the extra mile and giving other emergency ideas and tips every night. For the most part the ideas have been pretty good, but tonight I was a little concerned with one of their suggestions.
It was about how to dispose of human waste. The concern is real because of the all of the different diseases that can result from fecal contamination. The reporter suggested that everyone have a portable restroom. He said that an easy one to use was a 5-gallon bucket with a liner and a toilet seat that is made to fit the bucket. He said to use a liner in the bucket and when you were done, just tie the liner off and throw it in the garbage. The alternative commode is a good idea, but I just don’t know about the “throwing it in the garbage” idea.
Granted there are thousands of diapers with waste that goes into the garbage on a daily basis, but there are other things to consider. If everyone is throwing their waste (adult sized and not contained in a diaper) in the garbage, I think that all those bags could create a problem.
But I think that the bigger problem is not the putting of the refuse in the garbage, but instead I ask you – where are you going to put your garbage? After an earthquake do you really think that you are going to have your normal Tuesday morning garbage pickup? I doubt it. It won’t be because they won’t want to pick up the garbage, but with all of the widespread massive destruction do you really think that the garbage trucks will be able to make their normal rounds? I don’t thinks so.
If you leave untreated human waste and garbage lying around until the garbage pickup can resume, then you will be asking for a lot of pest problems. Flies, rats and vermin are going to be rampant and they are the pesky pests that spread disease. It could go real bad, real fast. Not to mention the potential stench.
I think that you should possibly consider getting a burn barrel (a metal drum with air holes on the side and a screen for the top to stop the burning garbage from flying out and starting unwanted fires) for all of your rubbish. If it is nice weather you might consider building an outdoor latrine for your alternative restroom. Get a bag of lime and some Borax to put near your latrine. A little shovel full of lime will help the refuse degrade three times as fast and a little sprinkle of Borax each time will help keep the smell down and not attract flies and other animals. Also check out article #22: Latrines and Sanitary Concerns for additional thoughts about the need for alternative restroom facilities during an emergency.
An outdoor latrine is easy enough to build and you can use an umbrella and shower curtain to create a private little shelter. Check out article #87: Christmas Toilet Seat Gift on how to build a quick and easy privacy shelter.
And for goodness sakes, get your water stored!