Homesteading · Prepping

Prepping: Flushing Toilets In Power Outages

The dreaded power outage.

We get those a few times a year on average, living rural, on an island. For one, our power is carried over not one, but TWO islands, on extremely tall poles, that sweep across the water. A good wind storm, like we had Tuesday night this week, can take out the power in a blink. All you need are trees falling. And in our area, we have far too much forest that isn’t healthy, so the wind does the work the humans should have done.

So when the power goes out, so does the water, if one has a well. In town and cities, the water is pressurized in tanks, but you only have the water pulled up, unless the water company (or PUD) has generators to pull more. And while towns/cities you might have water to flush toilets, if the power fails at the sewage treatment plant, eventually sewage can back up, so beware. Long-term power outages can go bad, even in populated areas.

If you are like us, and have your own well and septic system, you have options. We have a gravity septic, meaning we don’t need power to use it. This is good. We can keep pouring water into it and it functions. (What is called a Chamber Septic) If you have a Mound Septic, this can be an issue if yours has a pump. If so, read up on how to use it with no power. Tread carefully!

The biggest thing is to have a water supply on hand, outside, at all times. We run water tanks off our roof, to ensure we have backup water, as well as using it for irrigation in summer for our garden beds.

With that, we go outside, fill up clean buckets with water and come back inside, and pour the water into the tank, then flush, and refill it up, for the next use. Having said that, I highly encourage everyone to pee outside during the day. Save the water hauling for shall we say, other needs, and for at night. Problem with using a toilet to pee in, is within a day the bathroom reeks of urine, and it gets worse quickly. So keep it flushed.

Even if you live in an urban area, having back up water is essential. Have at least a 55 gallon barrel of rain water. A toilet flush will take 1 to 3 gallons water, and plan for each person once a day, at minimum, will need a bucket of water. For us, that means 5 people times 2 gallons, well, that is 10 gallons a day. I plan for 15 gallons, as I like to flush the toilets clean of urine in the morning as well.

I prefer a 2 gallon bucket over a 5 gallon bucket, as it is light enough to haul by most people (though that is still over 16 pounds!), where as a 5 gallon bucket is over 40 pounds! The small 2 gallon buckets we have, we found at The Home Depot. It is easy to tip it to pour, where as a 5 gallon isn’t.

There is something satisfying listening to water running……

House rule is once you have used the water, you go refill the bucket and leave it on the front porch for the next person.

This method lets you have a sanitary bathroom, no unpleasant brewing in the toilet and no need to go dig a latrine in your back yard. And you get a bonus workout.

Looking for how to do water tanks? I have written a couple articles in the past years on it here.