Waste Disposal


If you have had flooding or other damage to the house, you are going to have a lot of trash and garbage. The first thing to do is separate the two. Trash like tree limbs and building materials can be piled up near the street to wait for the city to haul it away. After a major disaster like a hurricane or earthquake, they may not get to you for weeks. You do not want to have any garbage mixed in with the trash.

Garbage is anything that will rot in a short time like food products or human or animal waste. The first thing you need is a lot of strong garbage bags. Keep extras on hand and make these part of your emergency stores. If it may be awhile before you can dispose of the garbage, double bag it. If there is somewhere you can take it, make frequent trips. Garbage is going to smell bad and attract animals and insects, so it needs to be as isolated as possible.

Store both trash and garbage away from the house. Rats can quickly become a problem in these piles and you do not want them in the house. Keep the kids well away from the trash piles. They may look like great play forts, but children are easily hurt by shifting branches in an unstable pile or sharp objects that may be unseen.

If you are going to burn trash or garbage, be very careful. Make sure that burning is approved in your area and observe all normal fire precautions. Keep the fire contained in a barrel, grill or fire circle, and have water available to douse the fire when needed.

Make sure that you remove everything that won't burn, like metal and glass, or is not safe in a fire. Do not burn anything that might explode or produce toxic fumes like plastics, paint or gas cans. And never put pressurized containers in a fire. If you aren't experienced at burning trash, this is probably not a good idea.


If your toilets are working, use them. If they are not working, do not let anyone use them even once. If the sewer is open, but you don't have the water on, you can flush a standard toilet by pouring about a gallon of water into the bowl all at once. This is basically how a toilet works anyway. Obviously, this does not have to be clean water.

If the toilet is not working, then it is time to dig a latrine. Ladies, this is one time the men have a great advantage. Urinating in the bushes may get you arrested at Carnival, but it is perfectly reasonable to do it when the sewer system is not functioning. Just stay away from the house and the water sources.

For feces, you have to make an effort to dispose of the waste properly. Dig a hole at least two feet deep. It should be at least 50 feet away from the house and from any body of water. Deposit the waste in the hole, either directly or out of a chamber pot or other contrivance. Thoroughly cover this waste with a two-inch layer of dirt at least once a day. When the hole becomes shallow, fill it in and dig another hole far enough away that there is no danger of accidentally stepping in the first one.

If you canít dig a hole outside, you will have to set up a toilet. Use a 5-gallon bucket or a trash can. Camping suppliers sell seats that fit on a 5-gallon bucket. If you donít have one, try to build a seat and put the bucket under it. Take the seat out of a chair or cut a hole in a table. Remember that whatever you use must be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the largest adult and stable enough that it doesn't tip over. If you can get the water out of the toilet bowl, you can use the regular toilet by lining it with bags the way you do the bucket.

Line the container with two plastic garbage bags, one inside the other. Place a disposable diaper, shredded paper or something else absorbent in the bottom. After each use, cover feces with cat litter or shredded paper or other absorbent. At least once a day or whenever there is a significant amount of waste, tie up the inside bag, and then tie up the outside bag, and dispose of it somewhere that the squirrels and other animals can't get to it.