Let’s Talk About Poop

In a disaster situation, knowing how to dispose of waste is essential. Depending on how severe the circumstances are, you may not have access to running water, which means toilets are no longer an option. Now for those of you near a water source, this may not necessarily be true. It would be possible to transport water from the lake or river and use it to manually flush your toilets as needed; a difficult task, but not an impossible one.

On the other hand, not everyone is so lucky to be located in such a convenient area, or maybe it simply isn’t safe to leave your home and the luxury isn’t worth the risk. In this situation, you’ll have to come up with a different solution.

Catholes
This method is about as simple as it gets, and is what would you would need to use if you’re out in the middle of nowhere or traveling daily. Dig a hole about four inches wide and six inches deep to relieve yourself in. Fill the hole back up with dirt when you’re finished and mark it somehow; a stick in the ground, a heavy rock, anything that will be recognized on sight. The last thing you want is someone else in your group digging up a cathole by mistake.

Portable Toilet
In this case, you would use this for whenever someone needs to go number 1, and simply dispose of the contents in a low-lying area as needed. Purchasing a seperate toilet is recommended in regards to number 2; here you would a use plastic bag of some kind for a liner, and then tie it up and dispose of it when you’re finished. It is extremely important that you take the proper precautions when disposing of the liners. You’ll take these a good distance from your home and bury them in a deep hole, covering them with dirt every time you throw in a new bag. If a well or stream is your main water source, make absolutely sure to bury the waste about 70 steps (two hundred feet) downstream and downhill from that point. I cannot stress how important it is to follow these steps. Ingestion of feces-contaminated water will bring on countless infections and illnesses such as E. Coli.

DIY Latrine
Constructing your own latrine is the prime option for someone camping out at home or in the same place for a long/indefinite period of time. Any of the other options will soon leave you with little to no available space at your disposal. Your trench will need to be deeper depending on how long you plan to remain in an area, but begin by digging it at least four feet long, one foot wide, and one foot deep. Plant a few posts in the ground to help balance yourself while taking care of your business, and lay a bottomless tent or a tarp over them for the sake of privacy (though this is obviously not a necessary step). Cover any and all waste with a thin layer of dirt, and keep in mind that depending on the duration of your off-grid lifestyle, you may find it necessary to fill in your latrine and dig a new one somewhere down the road.

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Emma C

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