Prepare Every Needful Thing

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Emergency and Disaster Response–March 2014

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Sanitation in Emergencies


Adequate sanitation is one the least-prepared-for and yet most critical areas of preparation.  Natural disasters will often take a great initial toll on life and health, but these impacts may be dwarfed by the spread of illness that occurs in the aftermath, especially when essential sanitation (access to clean water, means of human waste disposal, abatement of floodwaters, etc) is not restored after a 72-hour period.  As with water storage, by all means, get what you’ll need to carry you through those first three days, but then move forward to make longer-term preparations.

  • Review or complete your long-term water storage preparations.  Make sure that you have adequate clean water in storage and then print and keep handy guidelines for water purification, such as these at the Church website.
  • Consider how you will handle handwashing in an emergency.  See the Equipment and Supplies section of this month’s newsletter for ideas.  Buy a large package of bar soap.
  • Consider your household’s toileting needs in an emergency.  Purchase or prepare a backup.  This may include:
  • A camping toilet (as in the photo on the left)
  • A portable folding toilet (as in the center photo)
  • A bucket toilet (as in the photo on the right)
  • If you do not need to evacuate, you can set up bags in your home’s toilets as described under subheading “In a short-term emergency situation” at this website (the entire article is really good and worth reading)
  • Purchase heavy duty bags that will fit your toilet option, rubber gloves for cleaning and handling bagged waste, cat litter for moisture absorption/deodorizing and camp toilet enzyme packets (optional) to break down/deodorize.
  • Consider purchasing and installing a backwater valve  if you live in an area where sewage or septic backup may be an issue.  An inflatable plumbing test plug may work in some toilets, but is far less reliable.
  • Keep track of how many rolls of toilet paper your family uses this month.  Purchase and keep on hand at least twice that many.
  • If you have babies, purchase and keep on hand sufficient diapers and wipes for at least two months.
  • Review sanitary handwashing and toileting with all family members.  This document may be helpful.  It was prepared as a teaching tool for Third World-type environments and is very thorough.

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