Be Prepared for a Man-Made or Natural Emergency




Keep different types of waste products separated.

Paper Waste

Most paper waste can be burned to start a wood fire. To save on trashbag use, you can burn paper goods that are coated with a little plastic after your meal cooks. Stay away from the fire while these are burning. These shouldn't be used to start the fire because the vapors might get into your food, which is not healthy. Heavily coated paper goods should not be burned at all.

Food Waste

Your pets may be able to get rid of most of your food scraps. The rest of the food waste should be tightly sealed to keep bugs away. Or, you can put this to good use by starting a compost pile in the far corner of the backyard.

If you have an orange tree, lemon tree, or lime tree in your yard, keep the rinds separated. You are lucky to have a great food source of your own. And, the rinds can be used to remove odors from your hands, grated into recipes for extra flavor, or just in an empty container to give the air a nice scent and keep bugs away.

Pet Waste

Pet waste should be picked up with a shovel and put into a plastic barrel with a tight lid or into plastic bags that can be tied tightly to prevent keep odor, germs and bugs. Even so, the waste should be kept as far from your home as possible.

Human Waste

If you lose the water supply to your toilet, you can use your waste water (from cooking or bathing) to flush the toilet once or twice a day (only as needed). Keeping the lid closed between flushings will help avoid odors and germs.

To use the toilet without any flushing, you can line the toilet with a medium size trash bag for easy disposal. These bags will need to be tied tightly and stored as far from the home as possible.

You can also make a "toilet" outdoors with a bucket or by digging a hole or trench. Lime or powdered bleach can be used to cover the waste to keep odors down. Or, you can use a product like Dometic Granulated Holding Tank Treatment, which eliminates odor and digests waste with good bacteria (and is all natural and biodegradable) from toilets of all kinds or from holes. Your toilet hole could be very deep, and you could throw a layer of dirt in after each use in place of or addition to lime, bleach, or bacterial additive. A good precaution is to dig the hole at least two feet deep and to cover it completely when the waste is one foot from the top. A bucket toilet could be sealed with its own lid. They also make self-contained camping toilets, or folding toilets that hold bags.

Human Being Waste

A disaster can sometimes result in the death of a person or pet. If you don't have hope of help arriving very quickly, you will need to take care of things yourself. If you have a suitable place far enough away, you could bury the body. Or you could put the body into a very large trash bag. A double layer might even be better. The bag would have to be tightly tied and stored in a place as far from your home as possible. If one of your bags is not long enough, use one bag from the top and one from the bottom, and tie the middles up as good as you can. Odor, bugs, and germs are all of major concern after a death.

Before handling any sick or deceased person or animal, it is best to put on disposable gloves. Wash your hands afterwards, too.

Flammable Waste

If you are a smoker, cigarette butts should be put out in an ashtray. You can make an ashtray with a can of sand or dirt. A second ashtray or a metal can could be when you empty the ashtray. Ashes from the barbecue or a fire should be put into a metal can, even if they seem cool, and even if they cooled overnight. The metal can of ashes should then be stored away from the home to prevent a fire.

Any fuel that must be disposed of should be put into a metal container with a lid and kept in a cool place out of direct sunlight. If fuel spills onto dirt, the contaminated dirt should also be put into a sealable metal container.


Paper napkins or paper towels are good for wiping your hands and face in most situations. And, you can use moist towelettes after messier meals.

Before preparing food, hands should be washed with soap and water. Soap and water should also be used after handling any raw meat, poultry or eggs; and after using the toilet (or bucket, hole or ditch) or handling waste. You can save on water and protect yourself more by using disposable gloves, and waterless hand sanitizers are better than nothing.

In the event of any disease or death, use disposable gloves. After removing the gloves and putting them into a tightly sealed trashbag, you can also have someone pour alcohol or hydrogen peroxide over your hands as an extra precaution against germs. Then wash your hands with soap and water, which will also remove any alcohol smell.

You may be tempted to wear disposable gloves when building a campfire or barbecue. If you do, you should remove the gloves before using a match since the gloves could catch on fire.

If you don't have enough water to wash your hands properly, first do the best you can and then use an antibacterial gel. A little of this is simply squeezed into your hand, then you rub both hands together over and over until it dries.


Obviously, you can hang clothes on the line to dry in the sun. Washing them is a different story. You can still get pretty good agitation from a plunger. Get a brand new plunger, not the used one from the bathroom. Put water in a clean bucket, add the clothes and soap, and plunge the water to move it through the clothes - over and over. In a pinch, you can use a bar of soap to clean spots, then plunge to spread the soap everywhere. Use only enough soap necessary to clean because the more soap you use, the more rinsing must be done.

NEXT: Survival Essentials - Pet Care, Surviving In Style
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