After an earthquake you should assume that there could be damage to sewer lines. The sewer line to your home could be intact, but, it could be broken three blocks away. If you were to flush your toilet raw sewage could end up in your neighbour’s yard. Some diseases are spread through unsanitary conditions and following an earthquake is no time to become seriously ill.

Toilet Options

There are several different options for creating an alternate toilet:
  • Empty the water in your toilet and line with 2 heavy garbage bags;
  • Purchase a portable emergency toilet;
  • Utilize a plastic pail with a tight fitting lid.

Important Information on Solid Waste

It is necessary to separate your liquid and solid waste. Liquid waste is not considered a serious health problem and can be disposed of in a corner of your yard if necessary. Solid waste however is a source of many disease causing bacteria (like cholera) and needs to be disinfected and disposed of properly. To separate punch holes in one of the garbage bags lining your toilet or use two separate pails.


Add disinfectant to the waste to help prevent the spread of disease. You can use the following as disinfectants:
  • Packets of portable toilet chemicals;
  • Household chlorine bleach;
  • Powdered chlorinated lime. (available at most nurseries and gardening supply stores – use caution when using, follow the directions) Hydrated lime reduces the odour, fights bacteria and dries out waste for easier disposal later. Use liberally but, be careful when using as it can cause skin irritation and dryness. We recommend using a dust mask and rubber gloves.
If using heavy plastic bags – tie bag loosely, when it is half full to allow it to dry out. Store the bag in a tightly covered garbage can away from living areas, nursing mothers and food preparation areas. Once the sanitary sewer system is operational again you can dispose of the waste into the system again.