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By March 28, 2012 Read More →

Going Poop in A Disaster

What do you do if there is a disaster in your community?  Natural and Man-made disasters such as floods, hurricanes, warfare or something else that floods the sewer system cause additional personal and community disasters. Finding yourself unable to flush the toilets or run water down the drains put us all in a very stinky situtation? Disasters often disrupt public services for weeks, and sometimes months. We would be on our own if the sewer system backs up or is unusable. This can 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 eminent 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 it. It is like glorified camping, be creative and do like the pioneers did.


Hugh Vail 1999

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 11 the soldiers used their rocket boxes as toilets. They sat on them and got grooves in their behind. 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 the rafts each day and taken with us so no trace was ever left behind. We had a separate Porta-Potty 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 every one to get their groove on.

You can easily make your own sanitation Porta-Potty by utilizing a standard 5-gallon bucket, and in the meantime, the bucket can store supplies inside, making this a great DIY grab n’ go product. Most would rather avoid the hassle, and have a Luggable Loo shipped to their doors.


DIY | Grab N’ Go Bucket

Buckets w/ Toilet Seat…creative


  • 2 (5-gallon buckets with lids) one for urine and one for solid human waste.
  • 2 plastic portable toilet seats.
  • Several rolls of toilet paper.
  • Paper towels, wash clothes and hand towels.
  • 2-litre bottle of water for washing hands.
  • Hand or baby wipes large size (2 packages).
  • Sanitary napkins and personal hygiene items.
  • Biodegradable (if possible) heavy-duty (13-gallon) trash bag 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.
  • Home Dusk masks.
  • Small collapsible shovel.
  • Plastic quart jar of laundry detergent, borax, lime, or a jar of


  • 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 with.
  • Spray bottle to clean the body.
  • Soap, hand-held mirror, toothbrush, 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 it.

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 in 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.

Use A Spray Bottle To Clean The Body

Keeping the body clean in an emergency is very important.  Us 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 if 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.

I use a product called ION Stabilized Oxygen in all liquid to kill bacteria. It will keep the water safe for up to 5 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.

Water Tanks For Emergency Water Storage

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

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 in 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 in. 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.

About the Author:

Co-Owner of the APN. Hugh specializes in preparedness product knowledge and the principles of preparedness. Hugh is an avid reader and fly fisherman. Above all things, Hugh prefers to spend his time with his two children, Afton and Hugh Jr. The best way to contact Hugh is on Twitter @hughvail or by visiting

4 Comments on "Going Poop in A Disaster"

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  1. Zach Ball says:

    This article is exactly what I’m looking for.  I need some type of portable toilet system for this summer (due to my wife complaining).  Thanks so much for the info.  Now I know what I need.

  2. Caroline says:

    We purchased a composting toilet (Nature’s Head). Absolutely no odor. We don’t use (or have to buy or store) any chemicals or enzymes at all. Requires only a battery to power its little fan. Much easier and more sanitary than recommended in this article.

  3. Great article!! I do have to say one thing thought. For women, do not use anti bacterial soap on your female southern region. It will cause an infection. We have a certain amount of good bacteria down there that balances the Ph and if you kill the good bacteria then the bad bacteria gets in and causes infection. Stick with something like dial or even a soap made for down there.