Why This Is Important

We take garbage pickup and sewage disposal for granted. If these services are disrupted and waste is not properly handled and disposed of, it will attract pests and bring potential for disease.
Trash Containers


1. Separate trash and throw less stuff away.
  • Keep disposable diapers in a separate bag.
  • Keep toxic materials such as spray cans separate.
2. Recycle what you can. Reuse bottles and cans.

3. Create mulch of what you can. Compost wet trash EXCEPT meats and fats. Put shredded paper materials over wet trash and add dirt on top of the paper.


4. DO NOT burn trash unless approved by local officials.

  • Contact your fire department to get information on whether burning is allowed at that time.

  • Locate the burn area near water and away from power lines and tree limbs.

  • Create a firebreak by scraping the ground around the burn area.

  • Do NOT compact trash or add trash over several days to a burn barrel. Doing so will result in incomplete burns.

    Burn Barrel
  • Do not start a fire until hoses, buckets of water or sand, and fire extinguishers are on site and fire extinguishers have been tested. If the water is cut off, do not burn.

  • Burn trash and debris in a burn barrel covered by a metal grate. NEVER burn household trash on the ground.

  • Stay with the fire. Do NOT leave your fire until it is all burned down and the ashes are wet.

  • NEVER allow children to be around the burn site. Have one adult responsible for the fire and a separate adult responsible for supervising the children in another area.

  • NEVER burn anything when the weather is dry or windy. If you have doubts, DO NOT BURN. Waiting a few days is better than accidentally burning your house down.

  • Add material to the burn barrel slowly. This will result in a more thorough burn and less risk of a fire escaping.

  • As the fire dies, follow instructions for campfires. Wet the ashes thoroughly, STIR, then wet again. Keep doing this until all of the ashes are wet and cold. Look around the area to make sure there are no smoldering embers that have escaped the burn barrel.

Sewage Disposal

Portable Potty
1. If the sewer works, but there is no water, save water that has been used for cleaning or washing to flush toilets.

2. Chemical toilets (Porta-Potties, RV Toilets, Camping Toilets) may provide a temporary solution. These chemical toilets are only a temporary solution because they need to be emptied into special dump stations, which may not be operating in an emergency.

3. Devise an Emergency indoor toilet (How to Create an Emergency Toilet)
  • Line the inside of a toilet bowl, 5 gallon pail or another appropriately sized waste container with two heavy-duty plastic garbage bags.
    Trash bags and Kitty Litter
  • Place kitty litter, fireplace ashes, or sawdust into the bottom of the bags.

  • At the end of each day, the bagged waste should be securely tied and removed to a protected location such as a garage, basement, or outbuilding until a safe disposal option is available.
    1. Wear disposable gloves.
    2. Use a tight-lidded garbage can for the sewage.
  • Instead of bagging and disposing of this waste, you may collect it (for example in a bucket), and dispose of it in either a properly functioning public sewer or septic system. You may even bury the waste on your own property in a trench or hole about a foot deep. If you don't use a plastic bag, the waste should decompose as long as you are disposing of it properly. Do NOT put sewage waste into your compost heap.
    Bury Waste
  • If you bury waste, check with your local health department first. Many require the disposal hole or trench be at least 100 feet away from a source of water such as a well, pond or stream.
4. If your house has a septic tank, be sure to have it pumped regularly so that it will not fail you during a pandemic.


Toilet paperLOTS of toilet paper and plastic garbage bags. You may stock plastic grocery store shopping bags as 'toilet/potty liners,' keeping in mind that you need to use 2 at a time (doubling them) for 'toilet/potty liners.'