Hygiene and Sanitation

Keep yourself and your immediate environment CLEAN.

The second emergency after an initial disaster is disease outbreak. Improper hygiene and sanitation lead to deadly diseases like typhoid, dysentery, and cholera. Prevent disease and illness by keeping clean.


Proper hygiene is important for personal comfort, mental health, and a feeling of normalcy. When you feel dirty, itchy, and smelly, it’s hard to maintain a positive attitude.

Hand washing with soap and water is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of disease. A good alcohol based hand sanitizer is an effective alternative means of cleaning hands if soap and water are unavailable.

Effective Hand Washing

  1. Wet hands with clean running water. Use warm water if available.
  2. Use bar or liquid soap to create a lather.
  3. Scrub all surfaces for at least 20 seconds (Slowly sing the “ABC song”).
  4. Rinse well with clean water.
  5. Dry with paper towel.

Wash Hands

  • Before eating or preparing food
  • After using the toilet or helping someone else use the toilet
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • After handling an animal
  • Before and after helping someone who is sick or wounded
  • After handling trash, garbage, or other waste
  • After coming in contact with flood or any other contaminated water

After an emergency like an earthquake, DO NOT flush or put anything down drains until you know sewer pipes are safe. You can damage your home and increase problems for the utility company. NEVER leave waste on the surface. It attracts insects and rodents. NEVER dispose of waste in streams, canals, or other areas with potential flowing water.

A two bucket system, separating liquid and solid
waste, is an effective and sanitary means of taking care of human waste in an emergency. Urine and fecal matter must be separated since they are disposed of in different ways.

Bucket #1 does not need a bag and is used exclusively for liquid urine. Empty after each use in the yard or over gravel where it will harmlessly evaporate. Rinse the bucket to be used again.

Bucket #2 is for solid fecal waste only. Line this bucket with two heavy duty plastic bags and put a layer of kitty litter in the bottom. As waste is deposited, cover with more kitty litter to absorb moisture and reduce odors. Once full, put on disposable gloves, securely tie off the double bags with twist ties, and carry outside, still in the bucket, to prevent spills.

Temporary storage is a short-term option. Store it outside in a concealed area. Use a large garbage can with a tight lid, no more than 30 gallons. Secure it to a strong post or a tree. Strap down the lid with rope or bungee cords. Double bag the can with heavy duty garbage bags. Open the bag of waste and empty the kitty litter and waste into the can, then put the empty bag in the can as well. After dumping in the waste, throw in the disposable gloves you’ve worn to carry it outside, and cover it all with a layer of ash. Keep a bucket full of cold ash or another kind of powder disinfectant like lime near the can. It creates a barrier that pests don’t like to dig through. After closing the lid, spray the outer surface of the can with disinfectant. Repeat this process each time you empty the bucket into the garbage can. Contact your local health department for instructions on further disposal.

Burying the waste is the best option, if you have a safe location a minimum of 200 feet from any water supply or living area. Dig a hole 2.5 to 3 feet deep. Open the bag and empty the kitty litter and waste into the hole, then put the empty bag in the hole as well. The waste must be out of the bag for proper decomposition. Cover with ash and dirt after each “dump”. Cover the hole with weighted boards or another barrier between dumps. Stop adding waste to this hole when the waste is about a foot from the surface. Then, to finish burying the waste, continue filling the hole with dirt almost to the top, packing it down. Cover the dirt with more ash, top with dirt and pack it down once again.

“Port-a-Potty” Kit

  • Two 5-gallon buckets with handles
  • Two bucket style toilet seat lids (find at emergency supply stores)
  • Two boxes of heavy duty plastic bags for buckets
  • Twist ties to close bags
  • 8 rolls of toilet tissue
  • Bucket of kitty litter
  • Scoop
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Air freshener
  • Box of disposable gloves

Additional supplies

  • Additional kitty litter
  • 30-gallon garbage can with tight fitting lid
  • Heavy duty bags for garbage can
  • Spray disinfectant
  • Digging tools
  • Rope to secure garbage can
  • Bucket of wood ash or lime (Use caution)

Make a Plan, Get a Kit, Be Informed, Get Involved
For more preparedness information: BeReady.Utah.gov

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