More people die in the weeks following a disaster than during. Without good hygiene and sanitation, diseases like diarrhea and typhoid bloom. Cases of malaria are increased, as a result of mosquitoes breeding in the disaster-environment. Plus, you’ve probably heard about the outbreak of cholera in Haiti and the raw sewage, industrial chemicals and floating debris in waterways around New York City after Hurricane Sandy. Having supplies on hand for emergency sanitation will help your family remain healthy following any disaster.
Inspiration for my original kit came from “Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook” by Peggy Layton. I gathered items from the list in the book and Hubby and I committed to using the kit – and only the kit – for one weekend. We found that it covered the basics, but the experience pointed up additional items we’d like to have. Practice with your preps, right? What follows is my existing setup.
First, Plan to Store Everything in Buckets
You’ll need one 6-gallon with lid and one 2 ½-gallon bucket. During the disaster, the large bucket will be your emergency potty and the smaller one will be used for sponge baths and other general cleaning. Attach an emergency potty seat lid to the larger bucket. The 6-gallon bucket is the same height as the modern, chair-height toilets. It’s more comfortable for the elderly and disabled but you could just as easily use a 5-gallon bucket and sit a bit lower. The smaller bucket fits neatly inside the larger, along with everything listed below.
Into the buckets, put:
- A cheap plastic shower curtain, shower rings and line to make a simple privacy enclosure for your potty.
- 12-gallon trash bags: used to line the bucket when doing your business.
- A folding shovel to bury waste until you are able to dispose of it properly.
- A lighter to burn waste if you are unable to bury it.
- Toilet paper and Scott’s Shop Towels. Hubby convinced me that shop towels were thirstier than regular paper towels and they’re reusable. I used my vacuum food sealer to suck the air from the rolls, saving space in my bucket.
- Medaphene is an aerosol that kills staff, herpes, tuberculosis, salmonella, HIV and other germs. Think of it as Lysol on steroids.
- Super Sorb is an instant absorbent: sprinkle a bit into the potty after use to eliminate odors, kill germs and turn liquids into a gel. You could also use kitty litter, saw dust or other items, but it is heavy and you’d have to store more of it. Find them both on Amazon or where janitorial supplies are sold.
- Pool Shock and an eyedropper. Bleach looses its strength in long term storage and is bulky. A small amount of Shock, mixed with water will make fresh bleach. Find it in the pool section.
- Tide detergent: for washing clothes.
- Dishwashing detergent for general cleaning.
- Add 33-gallon trash bags with twisties for other general trash. Again, the vacuum sealer sucked the air from the plastic bags, saving space in the bucket.
- Gloves: the long-cuff latex type is best, if you’re not allergic.
- Safety glasses.
- Several N95 masks. Don’t under estimate the need for personal protection (gloves, mask and eye). If someone in your family becomes ill, you’ll need to protect yourself. In a disaster situation you may be cleaning up urine, diarrhea, blood or who-knows-what.
- If space permits, add N100 masks–In the paint department. N100 blocks all of the germs and odors plus, the small ventilator makes it more comfortable to wear.
Personal Hygiene and Body Care
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and floss
- Bar soap
- Face cloth and camp towel
- Baby wipes as an alternative when water is scarce
- Chap stick
- Bug spray
- Razor and shaving cream (To fit it all in the bucket, stick to small or travel sizes)
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- Scrunchies: if you have long-hair, (else you probably don’t even know what these are.)
- Nail file and clippers
- Camp shower: this is one of those black bags that you hang in the sun. It works pretty well specially if you use it with the shower curtain. A knee-high stocking: makes a convenient soap-on-a-rope that can be tied nearby.
- Poly Tarp: Make a floor for your shower. Don’t waste shower water, you might be able to reuse it elsewhere. Many items have multiple uses, as an example the shower curtain and tarp can be used to catch rain water.
- Don’t underestimate the need for pleasant smells after a disaster. But also, don’t buy products with overbearing scents that conflict with one another. Keep smells light and fresh.
- Collapsible water carrier to transport water from a local source.
- Coffee filters
- Water purification tablets
- Several 1-gallon ziplock bags to use with purification tablets
- a Katadyn water filter–I want to have several methods to assure clean water in addition to boiling.
- A mini, foldable cook stove
- Fuel tabs
- Small stainless steel cook pot: for food or to boil water
- A general purpose knife and sharpening stone
- Sporks: a combined fork and spoon
- Heavy duty aluminum foil.
- Matches, BIC lighters and a magnesium fire starter, and other fire starting supplies.
Other Stuff That Might Be Useful
- LED Flashlight and/or headlamp: who wants to potty in the dark?
- A canvas fanny-pack
- Sharpie, pencils and a small tablet of paper
- Small first aid kit with triple antibiotic ointment, alcohol, peroxide and various bandages and pain meds.
- Last but not least – Duck tape: just because there are a million uses.
Aggressively vacuum seal and carefully pack anything that can be compressed and it will all fit neatly into one 6-gallon bucket. Print an inventory list and maybe instructions your family may need and toss it in as well. Put the lid on it and label the bucket. You’re done. Of course you can buy emergency sanitation kits, but expect to pay a lot for a basic unit.
Note: I didn’t include water in my kit as I have water stored elsewhere. Depending on your situation, you may wish to include some water.
OK – this part is not included in your bucket but it may be useful if you live in an older home. If the sewer system in your town becomes overloaded, either because of flood or because people are flushing toilets when the system is not able to process it, water and/or raw sewage may backup into your home thru toilets, drains, washer hookup and sinks. Newer homes install a device called a Backflow Preventer on the mainline to prevent backflow. A plumber can easily retrofit an older home. My final invoice was $300 installed. Expensive but worth it.