The Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) created the Emergency Toilet Project to provide information to the public about how to stay healthy after a disaster. Funding was provided, in part, by the Urban Areas Security Initiative grant program through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. See below for information about proper source attribution.
After a strong earthquake, we may need to know how to live without running water and working toilets for weeks or months. Diseases like cholera can spread when human feces (poo) are not handled and stored safely. Read our guidebook to learn about safe post-disaster toileting options.
These materials provide basic information about the twin bucket system, latrines (pit toilets), and septic systems. Before a disaster, distribute the materials widely. After a disaster, post them in public areas to help spread the word about safe toileting practices.
These documents were designed to be printed as stickers and placed on poo and pee buckets. You can also print them on card stock or regular paper and use packing tape to affix them. You can use any 5-6 gallon bucket to separate your pee and poo. You can even use an old paint bucket. Read the Emergency Toilet Guidebook for suggestions about where to find free buckets in your community.
Several recent disasters in the United States have caused damage to portions of water and wastewater systems, leaving major metropolitan areas without access to clean water and flushable toilets 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).
These materials are not to be used for commercial purposes. Anyone may use the materials, as long as they site 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."