Sanitary: Are You Ready for Cholera? Privy Vault

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Are You Ready for Cholera ?

    Cholera last year [1884] ravaged portions of the OldWorld. Judging from former visitations of the epidemic, it is probable that itwill appear in this country during the coming summer. Large cities are alreadytheir sanitary conditions, and Congress has established a National Board ofHealth to aid the States in repelling an invasion of the cholera from abroad.Not only should ports of entry and crowded populations be in a defensivecondition, but small communities ought to protect themselves. Indeed, this is amatter that interests every householder in the land. The question, “Are youready for the cholera?” appeals to “you” on the farm, as well asto “you” in the paved and sewered streets of the city. While we do notknow all about the cholera, one fact is definitely fixed: It is encouraged bydecomposing animal and vegetable matter—everything comprised in the elegantbut expressive term—filth.

The first step, in city or country, is to look to thehouse and its surroundings, and place them in complete order. It is the wastesof our daily lives that constitute the source of danger. Outside of well orderedcities, there is rarely complete provision for disposing of the wastes of thefamily. On the farm, the arrangements for getting rid of these wastes, notmerely covering them out of sight, but depositing them where they can do noharm, are usually most inadequate. it is not rare to see an expensive house,with an open sink drain leading from the kitchen at the rear, a constant menaceof typhoid and other diseases, and offering an open welcome to cholera. Thehouse itself may have its damp cellars and unhealthy rooms. Air, sunshine andthe white-wash brush will soon cure these.

The surroundings of the house are of more importance asthe family wastes are removed from the house with usually little care as to whatbecomes of them afterwards. The wastes are of three sorts. First, garbage—thekitchen solid refuse, including ashes. Second, liquid waste–kitchen slops,washing water, etc. Third, the waste of the human body. Leaving the other wastesto another time, we call attention to the wastes of our bodies as the mostdangerous of all, and at the same time the most readily disposed of.

Nothing can be more inadequate for the purpose than theordinary privy vault. It is not only a constant offence, but a continuous sourceof danger, its contents often contaminating wells at the distance of a hundredfeet or more, and bringing disease and death into the family. There is but onething to be done with a privy vault—abolish it! Do this at once, before thehot weather. It is impossible to mend, improve or make it tolerable. fill it upand be done with it. The substitute for the vault is the earth closet, use it.Such buildings are usually eye-sores, and the filling up of the vault removesall excuse for the unsightly presence.

An earth closet may be placed in any convenient room; onemay be partitioned off in a shed; in a barn, or other out-building, or thecloset may occupy a small room in the house without unpleasant results. Thematerial required is dry loam, not sand, but good soil, the stiffer the better.Dry this earth thoroughly, by spreading it on a platform of boards in the sun.When dust dry, pass it through a sieve to removed lumps, stones, etc., and storein barrels or boxes in a dry place. Where coal is burned, sifted ashes willanswer in place of dry earth, but wood ashes must not be used. For the closet,self-acting ones, in which the weight of the person liberates the dry earth froma hopper, may be purchased if preferred, but a simple and inexpensive closet maybe made at a small cost, that will answer as well as the most costly affair.Source:  Waukesha Freeman, May 7, 1885.