Thursday, June 3, 2010

Survival Sanitation - Part One - Taking Out the Trash

In a survival situation, a buildup of garbage or trash can become a hazard of its own that could lead to a significant health problem, problems with pests or quite possibly a fire. Most short term survival situations can be easily handled by simply bagging your trash or garbage. This may not be a viable solution during a long term crisis. There are several different alternatives that can be used during an extended crisis to avoid potential problems.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to eliminate garbage and waste is by burning. While it is a common practice in rural areas (except when “burn bans” are in place), this may not be an option in more suburban areas. When using the burning method to help control the buildup of garbage a number of safety factors will need to be followed. Avoid burning on windy days, make sure your burn pit, barrel, etc. has sufficient ventilation and make an effort to burn your trash completely. Incompletely burned piles of refuse can become breeding grounds for rodents (rats, mice) and other pests (flies, etc.). If you do plan to burn your trash, make sure to keep your garbage dry as this will allow it to burn more efficiently.

If you can’t burn your trash, the next viable option that can be implemented is burying your garbage. When using this option, it is important to remember that your trash will need to be buried deep enough to prevent animals from digging up the waste materials. It should also be done in a location that will not contaminate any ground or surface water (rivers, lakes, streams, etc.). This will require a great deal of effort on your part to do properly.

Food wastes should be kept separate from dry waste and then added to your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, it will be a good time to start one. If possible, rinse empty containers and cans to prevent rodent and insect problems. This will require an adequate supply of water available for this purpose. If an adequate supply of water isn’t available this step will need to be skipped. Boxes and cans can be flattened to save space and always keep all waste securely stored in bags or buckets that can be securely sealed. Store your trash in an area safe from animals, rodents or insects and away from any living areas until it can be properly disposed of in the necessary manner.

One final item you need to remember. Be careful about the items you throw away. Some things may be able to be used at a later date. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and realize you buried it with the rest of the trash.

Staying above the water line!



Marie said...

Thanks for posting this--sanitation (or lack thereof) could turn into such a big problem if/when no one knows what to do in an emergency. Looking forward to future posts on the subject!

Anonymous said...

In the rurals here, a backhoe dug trash pit is very often in the back. If drought allows no burn permit, these pits are pretty efficient - just make sure you keep a water hose with sufficient pressure closeby, and wet down the downwind grass before lighting up.

idahobob said...

Gotta love my burn barrel!

You can also burn your cans prior to flattening. It totally removes any attractive debris in them, just make you have a good, hot, fire, and stir, stir, stir.


Bitmap said...

One thing about burning - EVERYONE knows when you do it. The smell can carry for a long distance so keep that in mind if you want to keep a low profile.

riverwalker said...

To: Marie

Part Two coming soon!

Thanks Marie!


riverwalker said...

To: anon 12:30

It's nice when you have the option for a big burn pit...probably wouldn't work too well in the city.

Thanks anon!


riverwalker said...

To: idahobob

Great idea to burn the cans before burying them...speeds up the decay process.

Thanks idahobob!


riverwalker said...

To: Bitmap

Another good point to remember is the smoke from a fire can be easily seen.

Thanks bitmap!


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