This is the second post in a three-part series on survival sanitation.
In a SHTF situation, proper sanitation is of utmost importance if you want to keep your family from getting seriously sick. When you add to that a lack of medical facilities due to grid-down issues, staying healthy becomes even more crucial.
In this series I discuss the skills you need to avoid getting and spreading disease, and how to deal with waste and trash when your town and city services are no longer working.
When the grid goes down it doesn’t take long for serious sanitation problems to erupt. Take Auckland New Zealand for example:
In 1998, Auckland suffered a 5-week long power outage that halted water supplies, causing a large part of the city’s apartment dwellers and office workers to lose the ability to flush. Since the average person did not know how to properly deal with human waste, after only three days the resulting lack of wastewater services quickly escalated into a sanitation nightmare.
Here are two accounts of that time (please see footnotes for full articles):
Since water and sewage rely on electrically-driven pumps to get them into office blocks and towers, these services often aren’t available either. What little power is available is being used by emergency and civil services as far as possible, with other services like traffic lights being run if there’s anything to spare. Many office blocks have no power, water, or sewage services available. Combine the lack of sanitation with abscence of airconditioning and you can imagine what conditions are like in parts of these buildings.
And here is an account from someone who was tasked in writing up a white paper for the New Zealand government on the effects caused by no running water:
People in general are not smart. Rather than try and conserve or make a plan once the water stopped flowing, they would flush their toilets. Without power from the force of water pressure the tank doesn’t refill. The domino effect is not only gross but staggering, what human beings that have never lived beyond modern conveniences will do is unimaginable.
What I researched and wrote about blew my own mind…when people were actually confronted with such a situation, they went where ever they could – they filled the toilet, the toilet tank, the tub, the shower, the sink – when the bathrooms became uninhabitable, they went in corners, boxes, bags, closets…most however left by the time they were using the tub. Guess how long that took? That’s right, three days!.
How to Dispose of Human Waste in a Grid-Down Situation
If you’re in a situation where the grid goes down and the water stops flowing, you’ll want to be sure you’re correctly dealing with human waste.