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The City of Portland, Oregon

Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization

Unified. Prepared. Resilient.

Phone: 503-823-5386

FAX: 503-823-3903

Emergency Toilet Project

After a strong earthquake, we may need to know how to live without running water and working toilets for weeks or months. This is critically important, as diseases like cholera can spread when human waste is not handled and stored safely.

The materials below provide information about the basics of personal hygiene and the safe handling of human waste after a disaster. We hope these materials will be used by individuals and disaster preparedness agencies in the Portland Metropolitan Region and beyond. They may not be used for commercial purposes. See below for information about proper source attribution. Questions? Contact us at

Bucket Stickers

After a disaster, you'll need to clearly communicate the Twin Bucket System to anyone who isn't familiar with it. These documents were designed to be printed as stickers and placed on buckets. You can also print them on cardstock or regular paper and use packing tape to affix them.

Info Cards

These materials can be printed for personal use or distribution at preparedness outreach events.

Social Media Materials

Please help spread these messages via social media.

Additional Outreach Materials

These can be printed and wrapped around a toilet seat or roll of toilet paper.

Post-Disaster Public Messaging

This is recommended messaging for Emergency Managers and Public Health officials.

Project Background

Due to recent disasters, especially hurricanes, several major metropolitan areas of the U.S. have seen portions of their water and wastewater systems rendered inoperable for prolonged periods. Emergency managers, among others, have recognized a need to improve post-disaster sanitation management and educate communities on how best to manage human waste.

In 2016, Sue Mohnkern of Washington County Public Health (in Oregon) led a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional task force to develop guidelines for disaster sanitation following a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. In 2017, the technical content created by that task force was passed to the RDPO’s Regional Disaster Preparedness Messaging (RDPM) task force under the initial leadership of Felicia Heaton, formerly of Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, and then Cynthia Valdivia, a bilingual outreach and multicultural public educator with Washington County Public Health.

With a small U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant, the RDPO hired Portland-based consulting firm Barney and Worth to work with the RDPM in transforming the disaster sanitation guidelines into pre- and post- event education campaign tools (see below).

Reproduction of Materials

These materials are not to be used for commercial purposes. While these materials were developed for use by RDPO partners in their public disaster preparedness education, all disaster preparedness outreach practitioners outside the region may reproduce the materials for their own use as long as they properly attribute the source: Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization of the Portland Metropolitan Region, with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant program.