Emergency & Disaster Preparedness – Bedside Commode / Toilet

Bedside commodes, a cost effective, multi-use way to collect human waste.  I’ve tried many different portable commodes from the ones that contain fresh water for flushing to the 5 gallon buckets with a toilet seat adapter.  I didn’t like any of them.

The water filled commodes require one to find a place to dump the liquid waste and resupply with fresh water plus the blue chemicals required.  The 5 gallon bucket type seat is too small and are prone to tipping over while in use.  Neither of them seem to account for men using them.  In order for the number two the reach the container the number one will be pressed onto and touching the collection bowl.  Not a good sanitary situation.  Simply, gross and nasty.

Those experiences led me to the bedside commodes typically used for medical purposes.  To start off, although the space is limited I don’t end up touching the bowl with my private parts.  A big plus for me.  The commodes have different features that make them very useful.

IMG_6504

Bedside commode over in house toilet

The commode is designed to use bedside for those who are convalescing in the home so they don’t have to travel far for relief.  The legs are height adjustable to make it easier to move onto it from a bed or place it over a bathroom toilet so that one can benefit from the arm rest.  Some arm rest are movable so that it will make it easier to move from a bed or wheelchair.

BUCKET BOWL

Covered bucket bowl with lid and liner.

They all have a covered bowl that uses disposable bags to collect waste and a splash shield.  The splash shield is used when the commode is placed over a toilet to funnel the waste into the bowl below.  This same configuration can also be used in combination with a lined 5 gallon bucket or in-ground hole or trench latrine.

SPLASH SHIELD

Splash shield

There are many types of bowl liners available.  I usually get the kit form that has the waste collection bag that contains the powder that causes the liquids to gel that once full can be placed into the included zip closed containment pouch.  I also use the bulk packaged liners designed for the bedside commodes then add the gelatin powder for the liquids.

FIVE GALLON

Splash shield, 5 gallon bucket combination

Currently we have  5 of these commodes.  One for each tent so one doesn’t have to travel through cold or rain soaked late night calls of nature.  Also one for each of our designated latrine tents.  Mostly they’ve been used for camping.  We have had one occasion to use them in the home when the main sewer drain line was broken by a tree root.  It took less that 10 minutes to get them out of storage and put in place where we used them for three days until the pipe was repaired.  Fortunately no one has had to use them for medical issues.

IMG_6492

Commode in our pop-up latrine tent

They are available at any home medical supply store, Freecycle Network, or from Craigslist.  They can be priced, depending on features, from little over $100.00 to free.  Whatever the price paid they are well worth having on hand.  On the topic of camp sanitation a good reference to have on hand is the military field manual FM MED 593 on field sanitation.  It has lots of good information for setting up different camp latrines.

I made a short video that shows set ups and features of the different commodes we use.  Let me know how you set up and what your experience has been with camp and emergency sanitation.  -13

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