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Emergency Sanitation

October 24, 2011 by  

Emergency Sanitation

What do you do if there is a disaster in your community? You will not be able to flush the toilets or run water down the drains if a flood, hurricane or something else overwhelms the sewer system. During a disaster situation, public services could be disrupted for many days. If the sewer system backs up or is unusable, you will not be able to use your toilet. Doing so could be very dangerous to your health. Failure to properly dispose of human waste can lead to epidemics such as typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea. The spread of disease is imminent unless you take precautions and make emergency sanitation facilities.

Your first task is to make some sort of temporary toilet for your family. Almost any covered metal or plastic bucket will do. If you have nothing but a garbage can, you can use it as a toilet. You can also dig a hole and squat over it, and then bury the waste. It is like glorified camping; be creative and do like the pioneers did.

We went on a river-rafting trip down the Salmon River in Idaho with 12 people for one week. We used what was called the groover. The groover got its name because in World War II, the soldiers used their rocket boxes as toilets. They sat on them and got grooves in their behinds. Our groover was always secluded in the trees or bushes. Sometimes, a jacket or tarp was hung around it to give more privacy. It had a regular toilet seat on it that was adapted with a metal piece on the underside that slid on and off the rocket box. When not in use, the rocket box liner was sealed tight with a twist tie and the lid was locked in place. It was loaded onto a raft each day and taken with us so no trace was ever left behind. We had a separate bucket for the urine, which was dumped into the river. Before we launched each day, our groover captain would yell out the final call for everyone to get their groove on.

Make Your Own Portable Toilet

You can easily make your own portable toilet. You can store the supplies inside the bucket. If you need to, you can grab the bucket by the handle and go. The (5-gallon) buckets with toilet seat lids can be purchased from my website at

Supplies Needed

  • Two buckets (5-gallon with lids): one for urine and one for solid human waste.
  • Two plastic portable toilet seats.
  • Several rolls of toilet paper.
  • Paper towels, wash clothes and hand towels.
  • A 2-liter bottle of water for washing hands.
  • Hand or baby wipes large size (two packages).
  • Sanitary napkins and personal-hygiene items.
  • Biodegradable (if possible) heavy-duty (13-gallon) trash-can liners to line the 5-gallon buckets.
  • Heavy-duty twist ties to seal the liners shut when not in use.
  • Large garbage bags for trash.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Face masks.
  • Small collapsible shovel.
  • Plastic quart jar of laundry detergent, Borax, lime or a jar of Bio-Clean.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Small bottle of bleach with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Spray bottle to mix 1/8 cup bleach to 1 quart of water (label it) and use it to disinfect.
  • Spray bottle to clean the body.
  • Soap, hand-held mirror and personal hygiene items.
  • Diapers, if you have a baby.


You will be setting up a makeshift bathroom somewhere secluded outside. If your house is still intact but the sewer system is backed up, you can keep the buckets in the house. Sprinkle the human waste with 2 tablespoons of lime, Borax, laundry detergent or Bio-Clean after you are finished using the toilet. This controls the smell and bacteria. It is best to use one bucket for urine and the other for waste. Disposable wipes or toilet paper can be put in with the waste. The bucket with urine can be dumped more often, and the one with waste in it can be sealed with the heavy-duty twist ties and once per day disposed of by burying.

To avoid the spread of disease, bury all human waste by digging a hole at least 2 feet deep. Bury the entire bag of human waste in the hole and cover it up with the dirt from digging the hole. The biodegradable liners are the best for the environment.

If you cannot flush the toilet or the sewer is backed up in an emergency, it can still be used. Be sure to turn off the water coming into the toilet by turning the little handle on the pipe behind the toilet. Remove all the water from the toilet bowl. You can double line the toilet bowl with a heavy-duty garbage bag and follow the same procedure as you do with the buckets. When it is full, tie it up and dispose of it the same way as mentioned above.

If you live in an apartment and have no land to bury the bags, double bag them and then seal them the best you can with the twist ties. Place them in a large garbage can until the city can collect the trash and dispose of it.


Bio-Clean is a blend of bacteria and enzymes. The bacteria are all natural, not genetically engineered. The enzyme concentration is the most powerful on the market. Bio-Clean is non-poisonous. It creates no heat or fumes and there is no boiling involved. It does not attack live tissue or inorganic materials, only organic wastes like human excrement, grease, hair, food particles, paper and cotton. This makes Bio-Clean safe for people, plumbing and the environment.

Bio-Clean changes the waste particles into water, carbon dioxide and mineral ash, which become harmless in the outhouse, cesspool, pit or waste system. These elements are then available to use as compost in the garden. I found out about Bio-Clean from my husband who is a plumbing contractor. He sells Bio-Clean to customers for use in septic tanks to keep them from backing up. Bio-Clean is available to purchase on my website


Use A Spray Bottle To Clean Your Body

Keeping the body clean in an emergency is very important. Use a spray bottle with a small amount of antibacterial soap in it. Use paper towels or hand towels to wash up. Water needs to be boiled in emergency situations. Set up a way to boil the water. Let it cool down before putting it in a spray bottle. Be sure to put a washcloth to wash up with and a hand towel to dry off with in the sanitation kit.

Avoid Intestinal Ailments

  • Store drinking water, 1-gallon minimum, per person, per day. Store it now so you will have it ready in case of an emergency.
  • Know how to turn off the water-service valve to your home so no contaminated water can come into your home. Have a backup plan for emergency drinking, cooking and washing water in case your municipal supply is cut off.
  • In emergencies, boil contaminated water for five minutes. Keep hands clean and all food that has been exposed must be washed with clean water. Keep paper plates, cups and utensils in your grab-and-go kit so it minimizes the need to wash dishes.
  • Avoid using foods or liquids that might be contaminated. When in doubt, throw it out.


ION Water Treatment


I use a product called ION stabilized oxygen in all liquid to kill bacteria. It will keep the water safe for up to five years. It has been found to be very effective in water treatment. Many studies have been done on this product and it is concluded that ION will kill giardia, cholera and dysentery within a few minutes. It doesn’t have any of the harmful side effects that are associated with chlorine or Iodine. ION is a high concentration of oxygen.

One 2-ounce bottle will treat 110 gallons of water.

ION can be used medicinally to fight bacteria in the body. It can be used on cuts and wounds. ION will not harm the normal flora in our bodies. ION can be taken every day (five drops per 8-ounce glass of water). This will help boost the immune system by introducing stabilized oxygen into the bloodstream. It can also help you if you suffer from a bacterial or viral infection. During times of sickness caused by a bacterial or viral infection, take 50 drops every three hours diluted in a glass of water. The ION goes into the stomach and fights the bacteria or virus.

To purchase ION go to my website Click on ION water purification. Double click on the picture of the ION and all the information will come up on the many medicinal uses as well as water treatment. If you purchase 10 bottles at a time, you can get a discount. If you purchase 25 or more bottles, you can buy it wholesale.

Water Tanks For Emergency Water Storage


Water is king. Water storage is actually more important than food. Without good, clean, potable water, you won’t be able to eat the dehydrated food you are storing, keep yourself hydrated, wash dishes or clean yourself.

I keep water in several locations. I have a 185-gallon water storage tank that sits in the corner of my camping-equipment room. It needs to be located in an area that won’t freeze or overheat. The ideal temperature to store water is room temperature or below (65-45 degrees Fahrenheit). This water tank can be purchased on my website

I also keep smaller 5-gallon containers filled with water and ready to grab if needed. Any food-grade plastic container can be used to store water. The bottles that apple, cranberry or grape juices come in are ideal for water storage. Never use milk jug type containers because they are made to break down after about six months, and they will start to collapse and leak.

Food Storage And Self-Sufficiency Products Available

If you are interested in any of the seven books I have written (such as Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook, or Cookin’ with Home Storage), water storage tanks, ION water treatment, dehydrated or freeze-dried food storage sealed in gallon-sized cans with a shelf life of 15 years, wheat grinders, Bio-Clean sewage treatment, 72-hour packs or emergency medical supplies, click here.


Prepackaged Food Storage Meals With A 15-Year Shelf Life

I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day. I make the eFoods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping or hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient, and you don’t waste food that way.

This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on Take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out here.

— Peggy Layton

Peggy Layton

a home economist and licensed nutritionist, holds a B.S. in Home Economics Education with a minor in Food Science and Nutrition from Brigham Young University. Peggy lives in Manti, Utah with her husband Scott. Together they have raised seven children. Peggy owns and operates two businesses: One called "The Therapy Center", where she is a licensed massage therapist and hypnotherapist, and the other an online cookbook and preparedness products business. She is nationally known for publishing a series of seven books on the subject of food storage and also lectures and teaches seminars about preparedness and using food storage products. Peggy practices what she preaches, has no debt, grows a huge garden, lives off the land, raises chickens, bottles and dehydrates food and has time left over to operate her businesses. To check out Peggy's cookbooks and self sufficiency products go to her website To get a free sample of three different storable meals that have a 15-year shelf life go here.

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  • Joyce from Loris

    Thank goodness, there are still lots of people around who remember life before indoor plumbing came along. They can teach the younger folks about out houses, using well water (which I still use, only with a pump), etc. They were clean and most of the people that used out door toilets were never sick, my grandparents had no indoor plumbing. My grandmother thought she was “rich”, because she had a hand pump right there on the back porch, and could pump all the water she needed without going to the well and pull the water up with a bucket! Times, they have changed, and will always change.

    • eddie47d

      I’ll admit I’m not prepared on this issue and it probably isn’t important for short term emergencies (2-3 days). After that the issue becomes extremely urgent and very relevant to ones health and well being. So I look at this as another fine article by Peggy Layton.

  • Lastmanstanding

    Many of the answers to the complex problems that Americans will face in the near future will be found by looking into the past.

    The biggest problem will be converting the mind to dealing with it.

    You had better get started.

  • Stunned at sunset

    I’m just curious. These “survival” scenarios have implications that, if a social downfall should occur, it may have serious consequences…for example, “…You will be setting up a makeshift bathroom somewhere secluded outside. If your house is still intact but the sewer system is backed up,…”

    So, I’m wondering, what does Ms. Layton and this publisher know that we don’t? What kind of “National Catastrophe” might occur that would create a sanitary condition for communities across the U.S.

    Just asking…

    • wandamurline

      everything runs on electricity and if you water supply’s electrical system shuts down, it will not pump water to your home. However, if you have a lake close, as I do, you can used a couple gallon bucket and pour it into the toilet bowl quickly and it will flush on its own…used to be a plumber’s wife.

    • Ted Crawford

      It could be, Stunned, that she has observed the way the last several administratios have mishandled and that there seems to be a growing number of people, lead by folks like, Ron Paul, who are unconcerned about Nuclear Proliferation!

    • Jibbs

      Think like a Boy Scout, be preapared. Waiting until something happens, will be too late. Just look how the store’s are depleted when people know a storm in comming.

      When I ran a milk route, the shelfs would get wiped out when a bad snowstorm was on it’s way.

    • texastwin827

      If you ever lived in a Hurricane prone area, you wouldn’t ask. LOL

      When large hurricanes hit, the major cities are worked on, first, then the rural areas. My sister (lives in the country in East TX) went through Rita & Ike. After Rita, the city water was down for about 2-3 weeks because there was no electricity. Her neighbor has a well but there was no electricity for the pump, for 4 weeks, after Rita. Fortunately for them (and the neighbor)her son found a large generator, in Dallas, and brought it to them and the neighbor shared his water since they had the generator to pump it. Ike was either a little kinder or the city was up to speed by the time he came in as the water was only off about a week.

      The difference in when a hurricane comes in and a “surprise” cessation of the water supply is you have warning. Standard procedure is to wash your bathtub out and fill it with water so you can flush your toliets and have water that you can sanitize.

  • peter

    A pity that there are only 4 responses to this great advice from Peggy. Shows that the general readership is solidly of the opinion that such measures will never be required. The difference between surviving and perishing is pure common sense, not how much money one has. Can anyone picture any of our esteemed elites hauling a bucket?

    • libertytrain

      Since the article just came out today, give it a few hours and come back and see… :)

    • ruralgeek

      heh! Hard to picture, that’s for sure. Observe the debacle in OWS – what’s the first and biggest complaint? Sanitation problems. They lost the edge as soon as they let those folks squat in that private park. But even in this day, sanitation is a major problem.

      The elites will find few people wanting to haul their buckets if we have a major disaster. And if the grid goes down, it will be all over the world, not just the US. Our power lines are part of the North American grid which includes Canada and Mexico. A blast from the sun would last long enough to take down the European and Asian grids also.

      If the economy tanks even more than it has, money will be useless. We need to remember how to barter goods and services.

  • VGF

    MY Best guess is that Peggy is just some better at observation of the world than the average person…and has the motto” better to be safe than sorry’. That means ..”being as prepared as one possibly can be in case of emergency situations. After all, someone has to Teach and prepare those who can`t-won`t think and prepare…..for something that “might ”never come to pass’. Like a parent does for their children ?

  • Clint

    Good article Peggy! I just wish I could convince my family of the importance of preparing for the coming days. Most people are only concerned with entertainment and mock me if I bring up anything that doesn’t adhere to mainstream media memes.

  • OldSully

    When I was a Boy Scout back in the 1960′s we were taught and practiced survival techniques. These included first aid, finding edible plants, water purification, and sanitation. My Air Force survival training also taught me some of the same things and more. I don’t know what their teaching today but various parts of the training have come in handy from time to time in everyday neighborhood life. My family has come through heavy snowstorms in upstate NY and Hurricanes in Florida.

  • ruralgeek

    It is a very timely and interesting article. Save it in a survival folder and be prepared. If our sun has a huge CME that is on the side where it will envelop earth and it’s satellites, we might just loose the entire grid of electrical lines. If the government is preparing for that, we should be thinking along the lines of how well can I and the family can get along off grid with no groceries or anything else available in the local stores?

    Be prepared for anything. Google for those articles that talk about the 37 items that go first and will not be available. Have them on hand. You will never be sorry.

  • Carlee

    We live ‘way’ out in the country and don’t just run to the corner store when we need something. So, we are used to being prepared, especially living in tornado alley. However, friends and relatives think I’m nuts to be ‘hoarding’! They just don’t realize I have always done this to a certain extent. My parents went through the ‘great depression’ and Mom taught us to be frugal and always have supplies and enough to eat in case of a disaster. Thank you Mom, in heaven!

  • Peggy

    I really liked this article and when it came, I had already begun to wonder how to handle human waste realistically if need be. Lie another comment, my family thinks i am nuts for trying to be ready if anything happens. I have decided not to tell most people of my (mostly meager at this point) preparations but increasingly have felt more anxious about food supply, food safety snd cost increases as supply dwindles. I plan on implementing many of Peggy’s plan starting today.

  • GrayLion54

    I know the feeling. If I happen to mention the possibility of even a short term loss of modern conveniences, the wife will just wave her hand and talk about the latest episode of “Dancing With the Stars”,and the kids won’t even slow down playing their favorite computer games. I don’t know for sure that western civilization is going down the pipes, but I can see signs everwhere that it’s definitely circling the old porcelain bowl. Good luck to all who also suspect it’s coming.

    • http://?? Joe H.

      If a large enough CME ocurrs, the kids won’t be playing their games, they’ll be yellin!!! Bet they ALL listen, then!!!

  • rmauersr

    A Low Cost Option Another very simple and inexpensive composting toilet option is the Sawdust toilet or “The $25 (or less) Hinged-Top Humanure Toilet” used all over the world. This system has three necessary components: the sawdust toilet, cover material (peat moss, sawdust, etc.) and the compost bins. Two compost bins are needed because composted waste must sit for at least one year without fresh manure being added before it is safe to use on your garden. If the compost pile is too small to get hot then wait two years. The entire award winning Humanure Handbook is available as free download online. Hard copies can also be purchased in several languages. No one should be without an inexpensive simple composting Sawdust toilet during periods when potable water is scarce. Free download of Joseph Jenkins book “The Humanure Handbook” at

  • Ron

    Thank you for this very informative article. Many articles only deal with survival and not waste. Excellent ideas.

    • http://?? Joe H.

      I guess this is one time you can look at your neighbors and say “you don’t know sh..!!

  • Twocentsworth

    All of us need all the info and help we can find now as the majority of us are not prepared for any crisis. The crisis happens suddenly with no notice.

  • Joe DuBois

    Answer for “Stunned at sunset”: A large EMP from a high altitude “Nuke”, or a solar flare event could not only kill the world’s power grids, but could also destroy almost every electrical device on the planet! No T.V., cable, radio, cars, trucks, phones,computers, trains, ships (except sail), pumps, generators, solar electrical systems, etc. Hand water pumps, bicycles, and gardens, and guns would be necessities!

    • http://?? Joe H.

      Joe D.
      The cars made before 1970 would still be good. they still ran on good ole points and condensor. no electronics in the ignition.

  • wsa

    Great advice up to the point of the marketing blurb for ION Water Treatment. If you convince people rely on this to disinfect water you have put them at risk as it is pure snake oil just like the easywater electronic water softener scams and magnets you put on your fuel line for better gas mileage. There is no such thing as stabilized oxygen… it is a made up term! Please do a scam check of these things before you recomend or sell them!

  • Susan

    Could someone elaborate a little more or send me to a website confirm the ION water treatment is a scam?

  • FreedomFighter

    Excellent artical Peggy!

    Last winter my family experianced a 6 day power outage due to ice and snow storms, it was miserable, and very unusual for my area. We live in a semi-remote area with a private road, snow was 3-4 feet deep or more with drifting, no plows came. Our wood stove kept us mostly warm, cooked our food and melted snow for drinking water.

    Not so bad you think?

    Without power the wells water pump did not operate, after the 1st flush, it piled up quick and melting gallons of water from snow was tedious at best. The threat of piping of toilet freezing up was very high, so we flushed as little as possible using hot water, it was a freekin nightmare and the stink would build up fast from some people.

    Water on hand, and alternate waste removal will make you situation safer and far more pleasent.

    Be preped, piles pile up.

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi


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