Sanitation After A Disaster

During a disaster taking a "number two" can be a real pain.

No longer to we have access to those nice clean toilets that we take for granted. No longer to we have that nice soft toilet paper, and no longer do we have the luxury to leave the problem of waste management to someone else.

If you do, and enough of your neighbors do, you are going to have a real health problem on your hands. A health problem that can sometimes be worse than the disaster its self.

So what are you going to do if your bathroom gets wiped out?

If you have planned for such an event, life goes on and you don't have to squat behind a tree; that is, if there is a tree left to squat behind.

Take the time today and learn how to build an outhouse or composting toilet.

If disaster strikes, you will be glad you did.

Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems are human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic wastewater (sewage, sullage, greywater), industrial wastes, and agricultural wastes. 

An outhouse is a type of toilet in a small structure separate from the main building which does not have a flush and is not attached to a sewer.

In North American English, an outhouse (sometimes also called a backhouse or a privy) is a small enclosure around a pit that is used as a toilet.

Most outhouses have one or two holes. One well-built example had four large holes and one small hole, for a child.

An outhouse operates differently from a septic tank in that the pit is not normally filled with standing water. The solids act as a sponge to retain moisture but also are exposed to open air, allowing for insects and earthworms to feed on the wastes which would not be possible within a septic tank. Septic tanks also tend to contain only organisms that can survive anaerobic conditions, while the open outhouse pit can both aerobic and anaerobic organisms.

Eventually over a period of many years, the solid wastes form a growing pile will fill the pit. A new pit is dug somewhere nearby, and soil is used from the new pit to cover and cap off the old pit. Underground organisms such as earthworms continue decomposition of the old pit until the material is indistinguishable from other ground soils.

composting toilet is an aerobic processing system that treats excreta, typically with no water or small volumes of flush water, viacomposting or managed aerobic decomposition. This is usually a faster process than the anaerobic decomposition at work in most wastewater systems, such as septic systems.

Composting toilets are often used as an alternative to central wastewater treatment plants (sewers) or septic systems. Typically they are chosen (1) to alleviate the need for water to flush toilets, (2) to avoid discharging nutrients and/or potential pathogens into environmentally sensitive areas, or (3) to capture nutrients in human excreta. Several manufactured composting toilet models are on the market, and construct-it-yourself systems are also popular.

How To Build A Outhouse

So you want to build an outhouse? Well, here's how to do it.


  1. Dig a hole. Make sure that it's at least 200 ft from all water supplies and steams, lakes, etc.
  2. Build a floor. Put planks over the hole so you have something to stand on.
  3. Build the sides. Use 2 x 4 lumber and cover it with plywood panels to make a fast, easy structure.
  4. Build the roof. Put plywood on top, and cover it with rool roofing. If the slope is over 2 in 12, you can use asphalt shingles. If it's over 4 in 12, you can use metal panels over some 2 x 4s.
  5. Decide if you want a sit or squat outhouse. If you want to sit, build a seat out of wood or get a commercial seat and just cut a hole in the wood. If you want to build a seat, you can make one out of 2 x 4 lumber and plywood.
  6. If you want a squatty, just cut a hole in the floor. 
    • You can also make a two-holer by cutting more holes in the floor or the seat.
  7. Add extras, such as a hand sanitizer rack, windows, etc.


  • Don't make it too complicated if you are inexperienced.
  • The old saying goes "Anyone can build an outhouse, but not everyone can build a good outhouse."

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make an Outhouse. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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