Top Emergency Toilet Options

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Though no one really likes to talk about it, relieving ourselves of bodily waste is something that we all have to do several times each day. Every single one of us takes for granted just how good we have it, with the porcelain thrones that not only provide us with comfort, but also a cleaner and safer way to keep our business sanitary. But think of what it would be like if one day you woke up and your modern luxurious toilet was no longer an option. With useless toilets in your home that could no longer flush, things would get real messy and smelly in a hurry. What would you do? 

Top Emergency Toilet Options

This is one of my Emergency Toilet Options

My nephew, Dane R. built this for me, it uses a six-gallon bucket, lined with a 10-gallon bag, with a layer of cat litter. You can use sawdust or any filler that will absorb liquid. The cheapest place to buy the 10-Gallon Bags is at Costco. I like to buy the Cat Litter in buckets because I can reuse them and I store them as-is on my prepping shelves.

Dane basically took a six-gallon bucket and built a toilet frame around it. He added a regular toilet seat and a toilet paper holder for a roll to have ready when needed. You can store the kitty litter and the box of 10-gallon bags inside the homemade toilet. He used scraps of wood, it’s super awesome.

Now, we need to be prepared to dispose of the waste. In case you missed this post, How to Deal With Human Waste When the Power Goes Out

Top Emergency Toilet Options

My Emergency Toilet Options

Top Emergency Toilet Options

If your family is ever faced with a long-term survival situation, having toilets available would definitely be something that you would have to figure out. It’s not like you can go just wherever you want or dig up spots in your backyard when you have to go #2. Failing to deal with your family’s waste properly could end up getting you and your clan seriously sick, even to the point of death. You’re going to need to know about the different types of toilet alternatives that would work in the meantime. Here are some of the top emergency toilet options that would keep your situation sanitary.         

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1. The Cathole 

The cathole is the easiest and quickest way to dispose of human waste, but it’s certainly the least comfortable and sustainable of all of the options I’m going to share with you. That’s because you’re literally squatting over a hole without anything to support you. You will also have to dig a hole each time someone in your family has to go. 

In order to build one, you simply use a shovel and dig a hole that’s about 6 inches deep. Once you’re done, bury and pack it down with dirt. Keep in mind that the cathole is not a long-term solution, but it will work if you’re ever in a pinch. Using this method for a longer period of time could cause serious problems for the environment, as well as for your family’s health. It’s meant to be used when you’re out hiking in the backcountry, not for families that continue to live in one place. 

2. The Latrine Trench    

The latrine trench is similar to the cathole, but instead of a hole, you are digging a trench that should be 4 to 6 ft long, 1 to 2 feet wide, and 2 to 2.5 feet deep to work as a makeshift bathroom. You can also build a lean-to toilet seat directly over the trench with an A-frame design made of strong branches and whatever type of cordage you can come up with.  

The latrine trench can work for your family for a much longer period of time than the cathole, but it too, is still considered to be a short-term solution for waste management. Once it’s reached capacity, you will need to cover it with dirt and then move on to a new location.   

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3. The Portable Camping Toilet

The portable camping toilet offers you a little more comfort and a safer way to contain your waste. All you need is a bucket with a makeshift toilet seat placed on top. Once you’re finished, simply dump the waste in a latrine trench and you’re done. Many people prefer to place a plastic bag liner on the inside of their toilets so that there’s less mess to deal with. This is fine, but keep in mind that this can create a serious issue for the environment if you do this for a long period of time. This is because it takes plastic an incredibly long amount of time to decompose and you have to determine the best location to take the bags for disposal.    

4. The Outhouse

With a little more planning and effort on your part, the old-fashioned outhouse is a great emergency toilet option. It will provide your family with privacy and help to somewhat contain the unpleasant odors of fecal matter. For this one, you will need to dig a very deep and wide enough hole in the ground, and then build a privacy shed over it with a toilet seat that you install.   

But even an outhouse will eventually fill up at some point, leaving you with only two options. One, you can cover up the hole and relocate your outhouse someplace else. Or two, you will need the right equipment in order to pump out the waste so that you can continue using it where it’s currently located. 

Final Word

During a survival situation, keeping your family safe and healthy should be your number one concern. This is why you need to be sure that you have an emergency toilet alternative already in place if your toilet is no longer functioning. Which of these emergency toilet options do you think would work best for you and your family? Can you think of any other toilet options that could be used? May God Bless this world, Linda.   

32 thoughts on “Top Emergency Toilet Options

  • May 25, 2021 at 6:34 am
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    I’m on purposely on septic. As things ramped up on covid we had it cleaned out to support the possible coming extra load.
    Make sure you’ve got dedicated tarps for your outdoor plan B n C cause most neighbors aren’t on the good a terms lol.
    Don’t forget hand wash stations.
    Long term y’all are gonna need to block them city pipes to keep them from backing up into the house as folks just continue to try to use it. A bag of quickcrete in the clean out should do it. Or since you might be digging then dig out the pipe and disconnect it.
    Outdoor toilets are fine till weather hits. Anything below single digits leaves a lot to be desired. You gotta watch camper toilets in those conditions too cause it quits flowing out the pipe but will freeze and climb and back up. The wind here is another consideration as it blows hard. That means not only smell but it’ll tear down your tarps.
    At the start of an event many will still be in denial and those precious busy body HOAs will be in your business so apply a modified version of the three Ss. Normally it’s Shoot Shovel and Shutup
    You can figured it out from there.
    It’s not that they’ll have any power in an event but it’s that it’ll create tensions that’ll lead to other things.

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    • May 25, 2021 at 6:45 am
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      Hi Matt! Although we don’t live in a town or development & have well water, we are connected to public sewer. The possibility of it backing up into the house during a crisis haunts me. Do you know where to look to locate the clean out? And would we just plug that with prepared quickcrete? Thanks for any advice.

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      • May 25, 2021 at 6:27 pm
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        Usually in the backyard there will be a white pvc pipe sticking up. That’s your clean out. If you don’t have one then you’ll need to locate the pipe, dig it and cut it.
        I think and only think that most places the water will shut down too. If that happens you’ll be ok without messing with it because folks will run out and stop being able to flush.

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        • May 26, 2021 at 9:45 am
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          Great info, thank you Matt!

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    • May 25, 2021 at 7:20 am
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      Hi Matt, oh my gosh, I always LOVE your comments. The three Ss. I have the giggles so bad! Oh my gosh, you nailed it! Great tips as always, you are the best Matt! Linda

      Reply
  • May 25, 2021 at 6:39 am
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    Ideally, the best option for our family would be the outhouse. We’re accustomed to using one since this is what we have at our cabin. Unfortunately, we don’t have an outhouse at home so we’d need to figure out a different solution here! I think the portable camping toilet is a decent option.

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    • May 25, 2021 at 7:33 am
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      Hi Amy, it’s something to think about before you need one, that’s for sure. Our sewer cleanout is on our driveway. I will take some pictures, it’s a metal circle about 11-inches in diameter. I called the city after our neighborhood had a power outage for several hours. I asked them what they do when the power goes out with the sewer lines. They have a backup generator, but when that runs out of fuel, we are all out of luck. The people down the small hill had the sewer backups, my house is above the sewer lines, sewage flows down. You may want to call your city and find out where in your subdivision the main sewer line is. Linda

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      • May 25, 2021 at 6:12 pm
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        Thanks for the advice Linda, much appreciated! We’re not in a subdivision or development but still have public sewer. I will definitely call to find out what’s up!

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  • May 25, 2021 at 7:24 am
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    We are on a septic system. The only water that goes in it is from the toilets. The other water goes to the garden area. Well, that’s not totally true. The kitchen sink goes to a grease trap. If needed, I have a 5 gallon bucket, some plastic bags and some kitty litter. I used a pool noodle cut on on side and placed on the rim of the bucket.

    I’ve also used a 5 gallon bucket to sit on while harvesting the garden. Wish I’d known about the pool noodle for it.

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    • May 25, 2021 at 9:25 am
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      Hi Deborah, you and Matt are lucky to have a septic system. We need something to sit on while gardening these days!! Linda

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      • May 25, 2021 at 10:50 am
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        The 5 gallon bucket with a pool noodle would work. Or if you get one with a lid, put the lid on.

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  • May 25, 2021 at 7:29 pm
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    We, also, have septic. I was taught years ago to feed the septic a packet of yeast once a month. It helps with the decomposition. Never, ever, use bleach in water that goes to it (surprise to this city gal). After living with our own septic and well, we have never gone back to depending on others for these matters. 😉 I will look into a composting toilet though….
    And speaking of these issues, my doctor once told me to always have miralax in the house. Backing up can happen in other ways 😉

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    • May 25, 2021 at 7:53 pm
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      Hi Janette, I would love to have a septic tank and a well, but it won’t happen where I live now. Great tips, on the yeast! The Miralax!! Best comment, ever! Linda

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  • May 25, 2021 at 10:34 pm
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    For those unable to have an outhouse….I believe a shed that either has a bucket toilet in it or even an outhouse hole dug with a wooden box over it with a hinged lid–and the outhouse hole for one’s bottom cut out–a seat could be hung or beside it and then put in place in emergencies…and no one would be wiser. The tarp/tent affair is actually quite visible if the sun is just right. We had a garden shed that was used as an outhouse before I arrived on the scene to the family’s homestead cabin here in Alaska. I had quite a laugh when I cleaned the shed and discovered that it was indeed an old outhouse! They had filled in the hole but the disguised seating was still there. (Not that we needed to disguise anything as the family taught me that an outhouse in use has the door open!)

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    • May 26, 2021 at 6:57 am
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      Hi Donna, I have a shed, great idea!! The garden shed formerly the outhouse story is the best! We really do need to make a plan before we need an outhouse!! Linda

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      • May 26, 2021 at 7:56 am
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        When the stuff hits the fan we will need to look at things differently. See not what it is, but what else can it be used for. We have a very limited vision. We’ve been to comfortable for too long. Life has been easy.
        One thing that has me concerned is where to bury the dead. Can’t just drag them to the street and wait for garbage pick up. Not good. This is when acreage will come in handy, a city park, a graveyard, the neighbors back yard. We will probably be on our own. Pre-think through different scenarios. Easier to do when you don’t have the stress of the time. I think we are coming into a time of anything goes. Probably a lot sooner than we think. We are just one or two idiots away from some big trouble. Yikes!
        Just need to remember that God is good and He’s there to see us through.

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        • May 26, 2021 at 9:00 am
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          Hi Mary, yes, the dead concerns me as well. Mark and I took CERT classes and it discussed how to bag the dead and label them. I hope it never comes to that, but I believe we are closer than we may think. God help us, we will need it. Linda

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    • May 26, 2021 at 9:49 am
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      Great idea to use our shed, very smart! Thanks!

      Reply
  • May 26, 2021 at 8:03 am
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    When I cared for my grandmom, she had a commode next to her bed. It was a chair with arms that had a toilet seat over a plastic removable bin. I’m wondering if this would work as an emergency toilet as well? I’m sure it’s more expensive than making one though. Thoughts on this?

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  • May 26, 2021 at 9:03 am
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    Hi Linda, great info as usual. A small camp shower tent will do for an emergency cover for outdoor hole in ground toilet. If you wanted too, you could have a plumber install a Sewage Backflow Valve onto your existing plumbing! These can be as simple or elaborate as your finances can afford. Possibly you could do this yourself if you know Code or pull a permit if needed. Yes, they do work and are designed for pressure buildup or flooding events!
    Stay safe and God Bless…

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    • May 26, 2021 at 9:53 am
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      Good advice about a sewage backflow valve, thanks Bill! You mentioned a camp shower tent. I think everyone should have a couple solar camp showers in their preps. Very handy!

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    • May 26, 2021 at 9:58 am
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      Hi Bill, oh I like this, I will do this for sure. Thank you!! Linda

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  • May 26, 2021 at 2:00 pm
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    Linda, I really enjoy your work and posts. I do bit of this and that on prepping. Your help is great on so many areas. Thanks Carolyn

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    • May 26, 2021 at 5:04 pm
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      Hi Carolyn, thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me. Linda

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  • May 29, 2021 at 9:58 pm
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    This morning I watched a Youtube video on how to make a composting toilet with urine diverter out of a 6 or 6 1/2 gallon bucket and a small stainless steel bowl with a coupling and hose for the diverter. It looked simple enough and something that I may actually have the tools capable of making it.

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    • May 30, 2021 at 6:46 am
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      Hi Leanne, oh, I will go look for that YouTube! I have plenty of six-gallon buckets from my wheat! I love this! Linda

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  • June 27, 2021 at 4:24 am
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    Hi Linda:

    We had a bad period when our septic tank was overfilled (the people who owned the house before us flushed baby diapers and sanitary napkins down it UG). We took a 5 gallon bucket and a old chair and cut a hole in the chair and used that until we could afford to get the septic tank cleaned out. We live in the country so my husband was able to take the waste out and dump it in a hole a good ways away from the house and put about 12-15:” of dirt of top of it. Thats one thing for living in the country.

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    • June 27, 2021 at 5:42 am
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      Hi Jackie, oh my gosh, what were those people thinking!! Baby diapers and sanitary napkins will “swell up”, what a mess for you guys. Country living would be my dream! Great comment and emergency toilet idea! Linda

      Reply

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