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Disaster Tip of the Week: Don’t Forget to Incorporate Sanitation into Your Disaster Preparation

Let's face it, sanitation is one of those subjects we are never likely to discuss during our daily conversations. It is also something we take for granted, since we typically never have to worry about it. Even when it does become an issue, we just pick up the phone and call out friendly local plumber.

Yet during a disaster it is something that becomes very important. Where are you going to go? Is water available to flush? Will you be taking precious potable water for your sanitation purposes? Can you keep it away from your food supplies? What about the smell?

Again, not the most pleasant subject matter, but extremely important since this is something if not done properly can quickly spread disease compounding an already difficult situation.

Another important factor to consider is how many people you have, especially if you are in the workplace or anywhere you have a large number of people. For instance a good rule of thumb is one portable toilet for every seventy-five occupants.

If you are in a location such as your home, or small office and you do not have enough water to both sustain your daily water intake needs and your sanitation needs consider setting up the following type system.

Convert a 5 gallon bucket fitted with toilet lid. Use heavy duty garbage bags and double bag for each use. After using, if available add a chemical agent to both reduce smells and aid in braking down the waste to the bag, and close the bags to avoid spillage. Remove tha bags and place them into either a metal (preferred) garbage can with tight fitting lid or a heavy duty plastic barrel with a tight fitting lid. This will keep the smell levels low, and reduce insect and rodent issues.

Clearly mark the garbage cans human waste so that anyone tasked with removal can readily identify them without having to open the containers.

If you are in a workplace environment, or apartment complex they should as part of their contingency planning have a vendor lined up to bring portable sanitation in, and provide for its removal. This should be done ahead of time so that it makes for fast and easy response from the vendor.

One last thing. Make sure you get all these supplies and vendors lined up ahead of time, otherwise it will be too late if you need them and don't have them if a disaster strikes.