Three Steps to Stay Healthy
If Toilets Aren't Working
After a major disaster, toilets and sinks may not work. You will need:
- Plenty of clean water.
- Good hand-washing practices.
- An emergency toilet, which is a way to safely store and dispose of human waste (poo).
Which Emergency Toilet Method Is Right For You?
The emergency toilet method you should use depends on where you live and what you can access. Keep reading to learn more about these three great methods: Twin Buckets, Latrines, and Septic Systems.
Method 1: Twin Buckets
When to Use Buckets
If you live in a city and don't have a working septic system or space for a latrine, its best to use the Twin Bucket System. It's also a good option if you live in an area with a high water table (like many parts of the Portland metro area). The buckets keep poo and pee separate. This minimizes volume and odor. It also makes it safer and easier to store and dispose of poo.
Label Your Buckets
Print bucket labels and use packing tape to secure them to your pee and poo buckets. During an emergency, refer to the instructions and help others understand how it works. If you live in the Portland-Vancouver Metro Region, you may be able to get water-resistant bucket stickers. Contact your city or county emergency management office to see if they have them in stock.
After Using Your Buckets
Stay informed! Public agencies will provide info about how to get rid of solid waste (poo) bags safely.
Method 2: Latrine
When to Use a Latrine
A latrine (or pit toilet) is a hole in the ground that collects human waste in an emergency. It's an option if a) you don't have supplies for a Twin Bucket System, b) you have enough space in your yard, and c) you don't live on a high water table. Learn How (and When) to Build a Latrine.
After Using Your Latrine
Stay informed! Public agencies will provide info about how to make sure your latrine remains safe.
Method 3: Septic System
When to Use a Septic System
Home septic systems are in the ground and can be damaged by earthquakes. If you have one, learn How to Check Your Septic System to ensure it's safe to use. Do this before a pipe-breaking disaster occurs!
After Using Your Septic System
Stay informed! Public agencies will provide info about public health risks.
Emergency Toilet Guidebook
Want to know more about these options? Read the Emergency Toilet Guidebook to find answers to common questions and learn more about septic systems, latrines, and the Twin Bucket System.
Visit the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) website to learn more about the Emergency Toilet Project. Learn about the project background and how to access materials for public outreach and post-disaster messaging.
Reproduction of Materials
These materials are not to be used for commercial purposes. Anyone may use them for non-commercial purposes, as long as they site the source: "Produced by the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) of the Portland Metropolitan Region, with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant program."