After a strong earthquake, we may need know how to live without running water and working toilets for weeks or months. This is critically important, as disease is 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.
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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).
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.