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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Survival Sanitation - Part One - Taking Out the Trash

A dumpster full of waste awaiting disposal.Image via Wikipedia
In a survival situation, a buildup of garbage or trash can become a hazard of its own that could lead to a significant health problem, problems with pests or quite possibly a fire. Most short term survival situations can be easily handled by simply bagging your trash or garbage. This may not be a viable solution during a long term crisis. There are several different alternatives that can be used during an extended crisis to avoid potential problems.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to eliminate garbage and waste is by burning. While it is a common practice in rural areas (except when “burn bans” are in place), this may not be an option in more suburban areas. When using the burning method to help control the buildup of garbage a number of safety factors will need to be followed. Avoid burning on windy days, make sure your burn pit, barrel, etc. has sufficient ventilation and make an effort to burn your trash completely. Incompletely burned piles of refuse can become breeding grounds for rodents (rats, mice) and other pests (flies, etc.). If you do plan to burn your trash, make sure to keep your garbage dry as this will allow it to burn more efficiently.
If you can’t burn your trash, the next viable option that can be implemented is burying your garbage. When using this option, it is important to remember that your trash will need to be buried deep enough to prevent animals from digging up the waste materials. It should also be done in a location that will not contaminate any ground or surface water (rivers, lakes, streams, etc.). This will require a great deal of effort on your part to do properly.
Food wastes should be kept separate from dry waste and then added to your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, it will be a good time to start one. If possible, rinse empty containers and cans to prevent rodent and insect problems. This will require an adequate supply of water available for this purpose. If an adequate supply of water isn’t available this step will need to be skipped. Boxes and cans can be flattened to save space and always keep all waste securely stored in bags or buckets that can be securely sealed. Store your trash in an area safe from animals, rodents or insects and away from any living areas until it can be properly disposed of in the necessary manner.
One final item you need to remember. Be careful about the items you throw away. Some things may be able to be used at a later date. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and realize you buried it with the rest of the trash.

Staying above the water line!

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