The thirty-first capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must [be able to] properly dispose of (or store if necessary) human waste. In it I state that:
You must “properly dispose of (or store if necessary) human waste, especially fecal waste. This is a big one! Do you know how to use greywater to flush your toilets if running water is not available? Do you know how and where to properly bury fecal waste or dig a cat-hole? If nothing else, can you safely store your waste in buckets or containers for later disposal?”
Dealing with human fecal waste, above all other contaminants, is the most important thing you can understand when the sewer system stops working. I shutter to think what my neighbors–and yours–will be doing with their human excrement only a week or two after a major event. It will be a problem.
After all, there a number of nasty fecal-oral diseases that are quite avoidable if you only take the time to properly dispose of human waste, including Cholera, Giardis, Hepatitis A, and others. Understand that it’s not just about avoiding direct contact with human waste as the bacteria which cause these problems can migrate hundreds of feet, even when buried! In addition, insects, especially flies, WILL be a huge problem anywhere unburied fecal waste is present. Flies can transport diseases and will be a nuisance to your sanity at the very least.
As such, the first and best course of action is to immediately bury all human waste (or as soon as possible). Learn what a simple cathole is, a slit trench, a makeshift urinal, and so on. This YouTube Video by SoutherPrepper1 is a good place to start and demos these options. If you’re thinking longer term then perhaps an outhouse would be in order. If you’re feeling really environmentally-friendly, you might be interested in an assortment of humanure videos that actually came from this humanure headquarters site.
Above all else, the most important thing to do is to keep your fecal waste (and that of your neighbors) from contaminating your water sources (e.g., well water, river or stream, etc) as well as any nearby food sources (e.g., garden, perennials, etc). As such, all fecal waste should be buried at least a few hundred feet away from anything that may be consumed by humans and preferably downhill. This means taking a bit of a stroll from the house when it’s time to “do your business.” Consider where would be a good location near your home and designate that the official “bathroom” when necessary. Also understand that it could easily take a year or two for human fecal waste to be considered safe for compost or, at least, not be harmful.
I also mentioned being able to store human waste if you’re unable to bury it for some time. While not the preferred option, it may be all that’s available to someone riding out the emergency in a high-rise apartment, for instance. If that’s the case then investing in several buckets with tight-fitting lids is a good idea. Including several bags of cat litter (or even dirt) or anything to cut down on the smell is useful. In fact, it may be a good idea to separate urine from fecal waste to start with to reduce the smell as well.
Last, if your sewer system is still functioning, then understand that you can use greywater (water not fit for human consumption) to easily flush your toilets if there isn’t sufficient water pressure–or simply no water–to flush them. Just fill a gallon pail with greywater and quickly pour it into the toilet bowl, which should be enough to cause the toilets to flush. If not, it turns into a giant mess on the bathroom floor. ;) Oh, and don’t waste precious clean water for this purpose, even if it seems you have enough on hand. Dig a hole.
Remember, it’s not hard to properly deal with human waste so long as you understand a few basic principles and choose to do so from the start. On the other hand, it’s a nightmare to deal with the effects of diseases causes by oral-fecal contamination. The choice is yours.