Not only is it completely dispiriting to have no way to dispose of waste, it is also a serious health hazard. The good news is that with a little preparedness, you can efficiently and safely deal with waste.
If you’re on a septic system, you’ll still be able to flush your toilet if you have water to put in the tank. Simply pour water into the toilet tank until it touches the float and then flush. Or, you can pour water quickly and forcefully into the bowl itself, which causes the water to siphon and flush on its own.
However, if your area has experienced a great deal of rain or flooding, it’s not a good idea to use your septic system. If the water table is too high, your septic will not work and waste will quickly spill out into your yard, causing a serious health hazard.
If you have a yard, you can also dispose of waste by digging holes in the ground that are six to eight inches deep. Make sure each hole is at least 200 feet from any water source, and try to dig holes in sunny spots; the sun will aid decomposition.
If you’re on a municipal system, the toilets will not work if the main sewer is out of power. If you’re sure the main sewer system is down, do not flush your toilet. Everyone in your neighborhood will be flushing, and without power to keep this waste moving, the lines will quickly become blocked and start to back up into people’s homes. Instead, you’ll need to rely on a temporary toilet.
Make a Temporary Toilet
To make a temporary toilet, you’ll need the following supplies:
- At least two five-gallon buckets with lids
- Several boxes of heavy-duty black garbage bags; the best are contractor garbage bags, sold at most home improvement stores
- Duct tape
- Wood ash, kitty litter, sawdust, quicklime, or portable toilet chemical decomposers (like the kind used in RVs)
- Twist ties
- Several gallons of household bleach
- Several boxes of rubber gloves
The easiest way to make a temporary toilet is to use your existing toilet. Take as much water out of the bowl as possible and then line the bowl with two heavy-duty black garbage bags. Tape the garbage bags to the bowl, under the seat.
After each use, pour in a cup of your disinfectant (the wood ash, kitty litter, etc.) and then spray with bleach. When the bag is half- to two-thirds full, spray again with bleach and remove it, making sure to wear rubber gloves.
Seal the bag, put the waste in the five-gallon bucket, and put on the lid. You can then dispose of the waste when services are restored or you’re able to find an appropriate site. If you have the space, you can also consider buying a portable toilet.