Please pardon me, but the subject really can’t be avoided. In an emergency such as an earthquake, sanitation services may be interrupted, leaving residents without water for up to two weeks, so let ‘s consider how we’ll cope.
You do have your water supply of one gallon per day per person for cooking, drinking, and washing, right? And some for the pets? Good.
Now let’s add on. If there’s a baby in your house, you are going to want to sequester what the baby produces every day. Use trash bags for diapers. You’ll want to do the same with all household trash. Make sure you have a good supply of trash bags.
If the tap water is of uncertain quality, one of two chemicals can be used to purify it, iodine or chlorine. Each carries some risks. Iodine is not recommended for pregnant women or those with thyroid conditions. Also, iodine is not effective against cryptosporidium, a common cause of water-borne illness in Northern California.
FEMA and the Red Cross recommend chlorine in the form of Clorox bleach for rendering poor water safe for use. Be prepared to add unscented bleach, at a concentration of 16 drops per gallon, then let the water stand for 30 minutes to render it safe for human or animal use. If you have a lemon tree in the neighborhood, add a few slices of lemon to improve the flavor just before drinking.
Water may also be purified by boiling for three minutes, which will kill bacteria and protozoa, but boiling uses a lot of fuel, which may be scarce. Let boiled water cool, then filter it through a clean cloth.
If you are an avid back-country camper, you no doubt already know ways to treat and purify water, and you may own a small solar, ceramic, or other filtration system. Great! Your neighbors will welcome your expertise.
For purposes of sanitation, add these supplies to your emergency stash:
- large, heavy trash bags
- large trash cans
- a large painter’s bucket with a tight-fitting lid, to line with a garbage bag and use as a loo if necessary
- toilet paper
- unscented, plain bleach
- liquid soap
- toothpaste and tooth brushes
- feminine hygiene supplies, if needed
- diapers, if needed