Matt Springer has been giving presentations around San Francisco about home earthquake preparedness since 2008 (for more information about the presentation, go to his earthquake preparedness website). This Quaketips blog is devoted to posts ranging from technical "how-to" articles to more philosophical "should-you" topics. New articles will be posted at most about once a month, so people who subscribe won't be subjected to lots of e-mail.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Hmm, your plumbing might be out for a while (or, “Quaketips descends into bathroom humor”)

(WARNING: This article contains graphic mentions of bodily functions and should not be read while eating lunch)

I’ve got some uncomfortable news for you.  One of the first shortages in the US during the COVID-19 crisis was toilet paper, so suddenly TP is the must-have emergency supply.  However, in the aftermath of a major earthquake, if your plumbing is out of commission for a while, having emergency toilet paper may not cut it.  I mean, we have needs, if you get my drift.  Without working toilets, what are we going to do, put poop in a bag like our dogs or use litterboxes like our cats?

Well actually, yeah, that pretty much describes what we are going to do!  This is the perfect use for compact foldable camping toilets, which are basically a seat that empties into a bag that contains chemicals that disinfect and deodorize your waste.  If you think that sounds distressing, compare it to the alternatives: NOT having a foldable camping toilet, or not pooping.

I must admit that it took me over 13 years of giving talks and over 9 years of writing this blog before realizing that I hadn’t provided for such eventualities, and I did a bit of research about it.  There are a few different kinds of camping toilets out there, and I was able to glean quite a bit of information about them from simply reading Amazon reviews.

It seems some of them have a high risk of collapsing or falling over as you are sitting on them.  I can’t even… let’s not even go there.

Another distressing feature that should be avoided: Something that reached out and grabbed me in these reviews was that some of these toilets reach out and grab you, and this is not the kind of earthquake-induced injury that sounds impressive to relate to people years later.

(There’s one review in particular that had me absolutely on the floor laughing hysterically.  At the risk of turning this family-friendly blog into a PG-13 feature, I’ll link to it assuming the link is permanent.)

I ended up ordering the GO anywhere portable toilet by Cleanwaste.  (This is not intended to be a product endorsement and I have had no contact with the company, nor do I have any relevant financial interests.)  I’m not suggesting this as part of the portable kit, but it could come in really handy if stuck at home with a bunch of TP.


I think the only disadvantage I can see is that after unfolding the legs, it’s really hard to fold them back into position unless you use a screwdriver or some other similar tool to help you push some plastic tabs into their positions.

Now, longtime readers of this blog will know that I typically like to end articles on a light note with some attempted humor.  It seems like a no-brainer that an article about portable toilets would have some great endings, but actually, I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t just too obvious (like flushing jokes).  And then I was listening to a radio ad about some short term assistance loan program or something, and heard the announcer say, “There are relief programs available.”  I don’t think I can top that…


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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Should I stay or should I go?...the inevitable dilemma about staying in the building during an earthquake

This month, we are taking a break from the actual preparedness issues and will instead delve further into this annoyingly counter-intuitive recommendation to not run out of buildings during earthquakes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An amazing story from the past, AND more about hanging pictures that won’t come crashing down (the wired and non-wired varieties)

Even though I don’t plan on posting very often so  I don’t add to the e-mail overload of people who subscribe, it just makes sense to post something on April 18th, the anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  There are two items on today’s plate: first a link to a then-young woman’s amazing description of what she experienced in the 1906 quake, and then I wanted to discuss a bit more about hanging pictures on the walls safely.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Important information about the recurring "Triangle of Life" e-mail spam


Thoughts about the much-publicized North American earthquake prediction for late March 2011

"Why the heck do you live in that place with earthquakes??"

A blog is launched; opening thoughts

This is my first experience authoring a blog, and there will probably be a few technical bumps along the way.  Earthquake safety is an important topic in a place like the San Francisco Bay Area, and I hope that the information and occasional thoughts and tips here will be of interest to people who are trying to maximize their safety in our occasionally moving region.

It's important to remember that even though we live in a place that is subject to earthquakes, which are occasionally pretty big, most of the risks associated with California earthquakes can be minimized by taking some precautions ahead of time.  Just like one knows not to go jogging alone in the middle of the night in a dark park in a dangerous part of town, one should know what to do and not to do in regions subject to natural disasters.

I'm kick-starting this blog with a few entries in a row, first introductory and then a few entries that have already been on my website.  After that, I'll post occasionally; perhaps even relatively rarely so that I don't add to people's e-mail burdens.  I've got no idea about how many people will be signing on to this, but welcome to those that do!

-Matt Springer

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