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  • Mike L

Getting It Done

In the last post, I spoke about some of the deficiencies in my preparations as well as the limitations of living in a space in which I can’t change the layout of the space. I want to pick up where I left off, specifically, I’ve addressed some of those deficiencies. I also plan to unpack the physical space issue as it’s hugely relevant. Just a heads up that I’m going to talk about one of the messier, but essential facts of life; managing human waste.   

That said, I addressed the issue of using the bathroom. I already had a couple of urinals on hand from when I injured my back roughly two years ago. Getting out of bed unaided was beyond painful and the thought of relieving myself where I lay was appealing. In my time as an EMT, I saw many nasty rashes which led to serious infection because of people being left to lie in their own waste. So yeah, I got up and went to the bathroom, even though the activity created tear-inducing pain. I made sure at least one of the urinals was close by and could be accessed with minimal effort.

I often joke that as men, the world is our urinal. As I said, I’m joking; however, there is more than a smidgen of truth in this crass statement. Of course, surreptitious public urination is one thing. Bowel movements are another matter entirely and require privacy as well as supplies. A side note here. Stress and illness wreak havoc on the human body and psyche. You may be unable to have a bowel movement in times of crisis or, you may develop diarrhea after consuming something that has started to go off. Be prepared by ensuring that you have toiilet paper and personal wipes at the ready.

We don’t think about toilets until they overflow or don’t flush. In the event of a power outage, there’s no electricity to pump water into homes. No water means once flushed, the toilet’s cistern will not refill with water; problem!

My solution was to buy an emergency toilet kit. It’s a five-gallon bucket with a toilet seat for a lid. That’s it. It came with a roll of toilet paper, personal wipes, biohazard bags, collection bags for the waste material and a chemical deodorizer. The instructions state that this is a kit for one to four people. I’m highly suspicious of that claim but that’s not the point here. I simply needed to address the issue. I will fine tune it later.    


I’m going to stop here for a rant. In all but a few instances, I strongly encourage you to build your own kit rather than buy one. Not only will you save money, but you can also more specifically tailor the kit to your needs. This is huge because you’re able to dial up the comfort factor with respect to your personal preferences and whatever other considerations you may have. In my case, I just needed a bucket.

Camping toilets are usually pressed into service in emergency situations. One of the central tenets of prepping and preparedness is things should serve more than one function. So, if you already have a camping toilet, great! Sawdust, sand, shredded newspaper, or any paper for that matter all work as a means of clumping the waste material. Rather than buying expensive deodorizers and sawdust, I’m opting for kitty litter as the collection medium for my bucket toilet. Think about it for a second, you’ll see the logic in what I’m advising! If I were in an area where I could get my hands on sand or dirt, I’d use it, but as a city slicker where cats abound, litter it is.

The primary ingredient in cat litter is clay. It has been engineered to be super absorbent and to form clumps. The deodorizers handle the important task of masking odors. Baking soda and charcoal are relatively inexpensive and can also be used to reduce the odor. The thin plastic bags used in most grocery stores aren’t going to work for this application. The bags generally have holes in them and that’s the last thing you want when dealing with any sort of waste material.

I recommend a double-bagging approach where you place the bag containing the waste inside of a red biohazard bag. Given the critical tasks they perform, these bags are designed to be leak-proof and puncture-resistant. The bright color and warning label make it clear to everyone the bag’s contents are dangerous. Under no circumstances should you store waste material, human or otherwise, in your home. Dispose of it properly as soon as possible.  

Next, I picked up three flashlights online. One lives in the living room and the other two in my bedroom and second bedroom, respectively. The key here is to be able to get to it in the dark when you need it.

From there, I moved on to the issue of communications. A buddy and I discussed buying two-way radios. No decision has been made but we’re moving in the right direction.

I’ve already stated my intention to exercise my second amendment rights at my earliest convenience. This segues into the big one of community building.

I’m still not there yet. Reuniting with my family, that’s only the first step. Other people are essential for a host of reasons. As I said before, I talk to my neighbors almost daily. I don’t think that the cultural and religious differences are enough to preclude them from helping me or vice versa. I’ve not identified what help I’d be willing to provide to them, nor do I know what I’d ask for from them. I’m confident, though, that in a crisis, either I’d approach them, or they’d approach me for help if it was necessary.

I'm stressing the importance of community becasuse it's more important than a gallon of water, a 100 rounds of ammunition, or a few ounces of gold. In normal times, even our loved ones can be difficult to deal with. In the words of the immortal bard, "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." Building a community is hard, but it's somewhat easier to exercise discernment and an abundance of caution when the lights are still on and the fridge and your belly are both full. Decisions made out of convenience rarely work out and, equally, desperation and fear doom relationships.

You'd be surprised where you can store extra food and water. In my case, I have a small grocery store in my bedroom. A shelf is stacked from floor-to-ceiling with canned meat, fruit, veggies, as well as paper towels. Remember, the elements and direct sunlight are the enemy when it comes to stocking your long term pantry so I rarely open the curtain more than a crack. The closet holds more food as well as my toilet paper. My closest friends know about my alter ego as a prepper so there's no shame associated with them coming over and seeing boxes of food stacked in the corners of my living room.

The chest freezer in the dining room didn't even illicit a cocked eyebrow! The plethora of supplies under my bed are neatly organized in bins. The roughly two feet of space between the bed and window is home to cases of water that I rotate into circulation. The linen closet is another pantry stuffed full of food and also stores a couple of small solar generators. The hall closet stores a combination stove and heater and boxes of fuel it requires.

The closet in my second bedroom is overflowing with backpacks, other preps and equipment. The bathroom in the hall has also been pressed into service as a storage area. Under the sink is full of OTC and personal care products. What about the bathtub, you ask? Full of boots and coolers which can be easily removed in the event the tub needs to be used for its intended purpose. The only viable space remaining is behind the door. I'll get to that in time!

That’s about all I’ve got for this one. Don't allow the fact that you live in a small apartment or condo deter you from preparing. As always, feel free to sound off in the comments below. Your input helps.

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Randy Cramer
Randy Cramer
May 23

Do you have any precautionary measures to avoid household pets from getting into food storage? Aside from conventional methods of baging and boxing, of course.


Randy Cramer
Randy Cramer
May 23

The idea of a vast amount of supplies appeals to me but so does staying mobile.

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