In the aftermath of an emergency trash pick and garbage disposal may not be available. It is very important that each individual takes the responsibility of proper sanitation and hygiene.
Especially after a disaster trash and garbage can lead to the spread of disease, causing a major problem when medical support may not be available, or over worked.

For this paper TRASH is defined as: Burnable (paper, wood, cardboard) or Non Burnable (metal cans, foil, styrofoam, plastic).
GARBAGE is defined as: Human and Biological Waste, Disposable Diapers, Food Waste, and Liquids.

Burn what you can.
Save the ashes to cover layers of buried or stored garbage and waste.
Crush cans to as small volume as possible.
Store non burnable in sealed garbage bags, in an out of the way place
away from living areas, until normal services are resumed.

Depending on the emergency, but especially after an earthquake, the water lines may be damaged or the water contaminated.
Shut off your Water Main to isolate your house from any contamination.
Outgoing sewer pipes could also be damaged.
DO NOT flush or put anything down the drains until you know the sewer pipes are safe.

S0 ---What do you do when you gotta go?

There are many possible alternatives:
TOILET - Empty water from the tank and the bowl - DO NOT flush it. Line the bowl with double garbage bags. The toilet can be used in that way. Then remove the bags, carry them outside and bury them in a temporary hole in the yard.
COMMERCIAL "DOODIE" BAGS can be purchased for a one time use, then disposed of, again in that hole in your yard.
TRASH CAN, BUCKET, OR CAN may be used, then emptied again in that hole dug in your yard.
RV CHEMICAL TOILET can be purchased at most RV or Outdoor Supply stores. It must also be dumped in that hole in your yard.
SANITATION PORTA POTTY can be made from a bucket with a toilet seat attached (see our Kit 20). This is strong enough to hold body weight, easy to transport, safe to use for short term use, can have chemical added to help with odor and disposal. Dump it in the hole in your yard.

HOLE IN THE YARD is a temporary solution for dumping and safely taking care of human waste and garbage.

  • Local laws and sanitation safety need to be considered when deciding where or if you will have an outside "latrine".
  • Use a shovel and dig a hole deep enough to be able to dump your waste and garbage in it.
  • After each dump, cover the garbage with dirt, to keep insects and animals out of it, and to help with the odor.
  • Sprinkle cold ashes from your campfire, or charcoal cooking over your latrine to help keep the odor controlled.
  • Food scraps and any other garbage can also be dumped in this hole.
  • The hole is full when it is within 1 foot of the ground surface. Fill with dirt and an ash layer, and move to a new hole.


  • Must be a minimum of 200 feet away from any water supply, or drainage area.
  • NEVER leave waste on the surface. Add a layer of dirt every time you empty into the hole.
  • Carry your porta potty to the hole to dump it. DO NOT carry a bag that may break or leak along the way.
  • Keep a shovel at the site to use for filling dirt into the hole.
  • Dispose of any food scraps, diapers or other garbage that my draw insects or animals. Cover them with a layer of dirt.

    What if you don't have space or availability of digging a hole in the back yard?

  • Use a large garbage can with a tight fitting lid
  • Line the can with a Large Garbage Bag, then torn newspaper, then another garbage bag.
  • Place can outside or away from living area, and secure in place, so it can't tip over.
  • Dump your garbage in it, and cover each "dump" with newspaper or ashes.
  • Use disinfectant on the outside of the can and around the area.

    REMEMBER: Taking care of your own needs during an emergency helps everyone recover, keep germs and disease at a minimum and get back to normal sooner.

    Hygiene is very important also to keep up morale and to keep germs and disease down.

  • Hand washing stops the spread of germs
  • Bathing, care of teeth and hair helps with morale and can be done with small amounts of water use.
  • Do Not dip into a pitcher or bucket of water, but instead pour a small amount out to use, keeping the rest of the water clean.
  • Learn to do laundry and dishes by hand. A little soap and a little water can do a lot!