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How to Build an Emergency Toilet


By: Jay Keating

Home Improvement How to Build

an Emergency Toilet

A Make Shift Toilet

Chris Floyd the Emergency Services Director for the Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has this to offer: To build a makeshift toilet line a medium-size plastic bucket with a garbage bag. Make a toilet seat out of two boards placed parallel to each other across the bucket. An old toilet seat will also work.

After each use, pour a disinfectant such as bleach into the container to avoid infection and spreading of disease. Cover the container tightly when not in use. Bury garbage and human wastes in the ground to avoid the spread of disease by rats and insects. Dig a pit two to three feet deep and at least 50 feet from any well, spring or water supply. LOCAL REGULATIONS MAY PROHIBIT YOU FROM BURYING HUMAN WASTES. LISTEN TO THE RADIO FOR INSTRUCTIONS, OR CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT. If the garbage cannot be buried immediately, strain the liquids into the emergency toilet, wrap the residue in several layers of newspapers and store it in a large can with a tight-fitting lid. After two or three days, place the can outside until it can be buried. The best choice for a disinfectant is a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to ten parts of water.

You can make chemical toilets.

According to the TBO.com Hurricane Guide you can use 5-gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids for emergency toilets. Line each bucket with heavy-duty garbage bags. Add about 1/4-cup regular, unscented, liquid chlorine bleach to each bucket as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Keep the buckets in a cool, dark place. Do not dispose of human waste through your regular trash pickup. When sewer services are restored, flush the waste down the toilet and clean and disinfect the buckets.

Sawdust Potty

During a flood, your city's sewer system or your household's septic system may not work. To be prepared, store materials to make a sawdust potty in your emergency kit as well. All you need is organic material such as sawdust, peat moss or soil, and a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. After you use the potty, just pour a layer of organic material in the bucket and put the lid on.

Rather Not Build Your Own

If you'd prefer not build your own; there are kits available such as this complete toilet pack on the left sold by LifeSecure Emergency Solutions. These toilet packs are compact, lightweight, durable, and easy to assemble, use and repack for future use. This portable toilet is made of very strong cardboard that sets up in such a way as to support up to 275 lbs. The toilet can be stored again after use and will hold up well to numerous uses.


The kit on the left contains a 3 day supply of US Coast Guard Approved, 5 year shelf-life food & water for four persons. Solar/Generator/Battery Powered Flashlight with Radio (never needs batteries, always ready)! Complete 4 person supply of lighting, shelter, sanitation, first aid, and emergency supplies. Designed for all types of emergency preparedness for the home or office by preparedness experts. This storage bucket unit on the right converts into an emergency toilet in seconds. The seat snaps on to the top of the bucket. Each unit comes with 3 biohazard waste bags and 3 deodorizer packets for proper sanitation.

Toilet Emergency Drinking Bowl for Pets

While humans should not drink water in a toilet bowl or tank, dogs and cats often do. If you are not going to stay in your home during a disaster and must leave your dog or cat behind (a really bad idea but may be necessary) leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water. Make sure the water in the toilet bowl is clean, remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace all the bathroom doors open so they can drink. My neighbor's cat survived ten days after being accidently locked inside our neighborhood school when it was closed for the summer with no food but access to the toilets.

Emergency sanitation for refugees.

Loughborough University of Leicestershire, UK has a lengthy website devoted to the management of sanitary needs for large numbers of people. The immediate provision of clean water supplies and sanitation facilities in refugee camps is essential to the health, well-being and, in some cases, even the survival of the refugees. Sanitation is usually allocated a much lower priority than clean water, but it is just as important in the control of many of the most common diseases found in refugee camps. Sanitation is the efficient disposal of excreta, urine, refuse, and sullage. As indiscriminate defecation is normally the initial health hazard in refugee camps, this Technical Brief outlines ways in which it can be controlled temporarily while long-term solutions are devised.



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