Most of our readers don’t live in an underdeveloped country, so they might assume that their infrastructure will stay intact even after a disaster; Also, they might continue to count on clean drinking water and safely prepared food. Likewise, they think there will always be ways to easily flush waste from our immediate surroundings so that it goes far, far away to a treatment facility.
When our infrastructure is damaged, however, we become easy prey for infectious disease. You only have to look back a few years to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the subsequent Cholera epidemic there to know this is true.
Earthquake Tent City in Haiti 2010
We’ve discussed problems related to food and water often in the past, so let’s talk about waste. If you can safely dispose of waste, you will have the best chance to stay healthy.
When electrical power is lost for a significant period due to a storm or other disaster, water utilities cannot operate the pumps that maintain water pressure in the pipes of your home. This pressure is one way that utilities ensure that your waste goes to a facility that can eliminate harmful bacteria. Without it, a “boil-water” order is often issued by the authorities.
Harsh lessons learned as a result of disasters have led to the outfitting of waste treatment facilities with generators. Generator power is helpful, but only while you have fuel.
Therefore, we must realize that human sewage will be a big problem not only in the aftermath of a storm but also in a long-term disaster. If the water isn’t running, a community without a ready supply of it will have a nightmare on their hands after as little as three days.
There are various examples of this in the recent past. In the grand majority, people were clueless as to how a flush toilet worked. After filling whatever porcelain options were available, they proceeded to pick rooms where they would relieve themselves and, as a result, their homes were uninhabitable in less than a week…