Ready or Not #22: Latrines and Sanitary Concerns

Several posts ago, I wrote about how miserable I was (it’s all about me, not that everyone else was miserable too) when my parent’s water wasn’t working at their house in Saint George. I also told you that you that it took eight 2 liter bottles of water in order to flush the toilet. What I didn’t tell you was that because I didn’t want to have to keep filling the toilet up each time I used it, I decided to cut back on how much water I drank. Keep in mind that I usually drink a lot of water and so I did become somewhat dehydrated, but that wasn’t such a big deal, right? Wrong! My body was used to having water and instead of just being thirsty I got a urinary tract infection (UTI). That’s right, I was miserable.

Now, I am not telling you this because I want sympathy (although a few I’m sorry’s would be nice). No, I’m telling you this because I think that it would be a good idea to talk about our sanitary situation during a disaster. First and foremost, don’t limit your water intake, make sure that you have enough water for your body to stay healthy. UTI’s are very painful. (2 gallons of water per person, per day for a two week period).

Next, most disasters like severe storms and electrical power outages won’t disrupt the use of our sewer and water systems, but if we have an earthquake and our water and sewer lines are disrupted, what will you do? And how long will you be able to do it? Are you going to use the bathroom in your trailer? Or do you have a port-a-potty? How long will it be before it is filled up? How will you dispose of the refuse?

What will your children do if they are at school without facilities? Does your school district have a plan in place for this type of problem? What is it? We do have a portable restroom company that is local, but could they deliver them? Are the roads useable? How many people would they be able to service? And how long would they be able to keep up with the demand and would they even be able to dump them or service them at all?

I have lots of questions and I don’t know all of the answers. I do think that as families and communities we need to think about this before we are confronted with it. My biggest fear is that people will get desperate and just start using “the bushes.” I mean, how can you say no to a child? Do we need to have our city leaders call somebody in the community to be The City Latrine Master (or whatever other creative name we can come up with – Emergency Sanitation Engineer or Privy Person or – whatever, but I digress).

Can we build latrines in our back yards? What are your city’s rules and regulations on that? Maybe there should be a latrine for each neighborhood. Who’s property would it go on and who would clean it out once the disaster is over? So many questions, but better to ask and answer them before a disaster than to make unhealthy decisions in the middle of the disaster.

My biggest concern out of all of this is the disease that follows when sanitary issues aren’t addressed. More people died in the Civil War from dysentery, diarrhea, and cholera (all caused because of unsanitary conditions) than from war wounds. What a miserable way to die.

In talking about making sure that we stay healthy and sanitary especially during a crisis, I want to share a new product that can help you do just that. For all of those who use Purell, GermX or any other alcohol based hand sanitizer; I want you to check out a new product called PureWorks antibacterial foam. This is a non-alcohol based hand sanitizer that kills 99.99% of all germs and then continues killing the germs for up to several hours after applying it to your hands. While alcohol products do kill 99.99% of all germs too, they stop working the minute they dry.

You can check the PureWorks product out and see how it works and even order some if you like it at: http://www.buypureworks.com/. I’ve got some of this incredible new product (that has gone through EPA and FDA testing) in my emergency kit at work, in my car and at my home. I won’t be without it – I just want to stay clean and I don’t want to get sick. Another thing that impressed me about this product was that it doesn’t use pesticides to kill the germs. Check it out, it’s quite impressive. You still need to make sure that you have water to wash your hands, but it is also wise to get additional protection.

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