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emergency sanitation

 
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There is a fair bit on the web about disaster emergency sanitation, how to make a porcelain toilet a temporary dry toilet and other fairly icky alternatives, but I am thinking that having a usable alternative would be a good idea for non apocalyptic events. ( ever notice that the post apocalyptic movies never talk about sanitation? )

I do a fair bit of household repair that includes toilet maintenance so I hear about failures quite a bit and the latest story got me thinking about back ups. A couple with two youngish children and friends in tow drove the two and a half hours to their cottage for the first time this year. Part way through the weekend the toilet plugged and despite repeated attempts to clear it they were not successful, so unable to get a service person on a summer Saturday they drove home early.

I am going to start promoting a basic Jenkins sawdust toilet as either a stored backup or as an outhouse alternative that can be moved indoors in the event of a flush failure due to blockage, septic failure or water loss. Longer duration power outages are not unusual in cottage areas here and certainly other failures are common as well.
 
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I would like to see Jenkins, as well as other dry options be shown.   UDDT, Jenkins, squat, pit toilets, wipers vs. washers, etc.  What works for one might not work for others.   I agree with you though, sanitation is hardly mentioned despite its importance.   Food preservation is more socially acceptable to talk about I guess.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Now that was odd, this morning I wrote this post about emergency facilities and slightly later my wife received a link to a post from a blogger she follows who deals mostly with food storage. Today she was talking about how to make an emergency toilet.
 
Nancy Troutman
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Other subjects rarely mentioned is laundry, how to bathe without wasting water, etc.   What I love about permies.com is that the "ER" lifestyle is the preferred lifestyle amongst the readers, or at least the posters.   You don't get highfalutin ideas that just do not work in real life.   You get rubber meets the road, tried & true methods that work.
 
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Wyatt Barnes wrote:
I am going to start promoting a basic Jenkins sawdust toilet as either a stored backup or as an outhouse alternative that can be moved indoors in the event of a flush failure due to blockage, septic failure or water loss. Longer duration power outages are not unusual in cottage areas here and certainly other failures are common as well.



I would propose a worm farm composting toilet. Composting with worms is odorless and does not require much ventilation. In fact, the opposite is true: Worms do only thrieve in and with high humidity levels.
Maintenance is minimal: The worm farm should be filled (used) a couple of weekends per year. That prevents the worms from starving.  
(Urine separation is mandatory, of course)
 
Wyatt Barnes
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The Jenkins system fits emergency criteria better than anything else that I have heard of.  It stores indefinitely without any maintenance, is easy to build, use, move and set up and requires very little instruction or skill for longer use. What I am proposing is aimed at people who have had a localized infrastructure failure, possibly as small as one household. I have read about one household who had such a failure, brought in a sawdust toilet that was in use in an outbuilding and never went back to the flush toilet. In a post on this site I read about a spare sawdust toilet and all its components being delivered to a friends household by bicycle for a week long loan while a septic system was repaired.
 
Mother Tree
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Let's face it, in an emergency situation, you can set up the basics of a jenkin's style humanure system with just a lidded bucket and some sort of compostable cover material, which I bet most people could find without leaving their property.  If the 'emergency' continues, then they can add more buckets, find better cover material, and start thinking about how to actually do the hot-composting, but for most people a lidded bucket and a few shovelfuls of earth will get them through an emergency.

I've been known to recommend such things via facebook to old schoolfriends who are in a panic because their water supply is frozen solid.  They need a fast solution, and ideally one that encourages them to experiment further when their emergency is over.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I totally agree that the bucket with a lid or even a piece of plywood on top will get you by but I worry that a tipping accident would put people off further experimentation. A frame makes the bucket system as stable as a porcelain toilet and should eliminate any potential tipping problems as well as making the system more aesthetically pleasing and familiar seeming.
 
pollinator
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For stability purposes, I picked up one of the bedside toilet frames at a thrift store. Ya know, the kind that an elderly parent might use when they spend much of their time bed bound and can't walk to the bathroom. I think the thrift store called it a handicapped bedside commode. Instead of using the small plastic bowl that comes with the seat & frame, I put a five gallon bucket underneath. I have a piece of plywood cut to fit over the top of the bucket because it is far easier to get off in a hurry than the normal bucket lid when I'm in urgent need to use the toilet. Very little urine goes into this bucket and a sawdust/soil (or fine compost) mix is used for covering up. Once filled, the bucket lid snaps on, the lid gets dated (so that I know when it was filled and began aging), and it is stored away. I find that five gallon buckets are far, far easier for me to handle than something larger.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Hey Su, I have heard of the bedside commode being used, as well as a wooden chair, wooden chair commode and a few others. At least one of the wooden commode chairs had an easily removed lid to air seal the container. Whatever works for an individual is good in my books. I am interested in your aging compost in the pail. Have you done this for long and do you have any results to share?
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