Disaster Sanitation

Disease is spread when human waste is not disposed of correctly

toiletHave you ever thought about where you’ll “go” when there is nowhere to "go"? After a major earthquake, we may need to live without running water and working toilets for weeks or months. Having a plan of where to go pee and poo can prevent potentially deadly diseases.

The Twin bucket system

In densely populated or urban areas, using the twin bucket system for pee and poo can solve the problem because it reduces the risk of disease (like cholera) and keeps pee separate from poo, reducing the amount of waste and odor.

Fecal waste (poo) bucket

  • Line bucket with heavy-duty 13-gallon garbage bag.
  • Use POO bucket.
  • Cover each use with shredded paper, bark chips or similar carbon-based material to help dry the waste and control the odor.
  • Fill bucket no more than half full of waste.
  • Double-bag and store the waste separate from other garbage and away from food and water.
  • Secure waste from pets, flies and rats.

Liquid waste (pee) bucket

  • Place toilet paper in POO bucket.
  • Add non-drinking water to contents if possible.
  • Pour on lawn, garden or ground.

Three Steps to Stay Healthy

  • Five Gallon Water Jug Icon
    Have clean drinking water available.
  • Hand Washing Icon
    Always clean your hands after toileting and before eating.
  • garbage bags icon
    Store POO safely, using double-bagged garbage bags and keeping away from food and water.

Digging a latrine

If you live in a rural area, a latrine (or pit toilet) may be an emergency toilet. Learn how to dig a latrine, check out Rack Card #1 at www.EmergencyToilet.org.

Septic systems

Do you have a septic system? Check out Rack Card #2 at www.EmergencyToilet.org to determine if it is still working after an earthquake.

If you need assistance locating your septic system before a disaster, contact Washington County Environmental Health.


Why are these methods recommended?

  • It can prevent outbreaks of disease, like cholera.
  • This process was used very effectively in Christchurch, New Zealand for several years after a major earthquake in 2011.
  • It could be months or years before our sewage systems are restored.

What do I do with the poo bags?

  • Find a secure location to store the double-bagged poo, away from food, kids and animals.
  • Listen for more information from your local waste disposal haulers.

For more information on Disaster Sanitation visit www.emergencytoilet.org.

Important Supplies

For all methods

  • toilet paper icon
    Toilet paper or wipes
  • disposable plastic gloves icon
    Disposable pastic gloves
  • garbage bags icon
    Plastic garbage bags (for disposing of gloves)
  • soap and sanitizer icon
    Soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60%+ concentration)

For the twin bucket system

  • Buckets icon
    Two 5-gallon buckets
  • toilet seat icon
    A toilet seat (optional but comfortable)
  • Dry material icon
    Dry, carbon-based materials like straw, leaves, grass, shredded paper, sawdust, etc.
  • garbage bags icon
    Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags

For a latrine

  • shovel icon

Learn more on related flyers:

  • Emergency water
  • Emergency supplies