The Little-Known Dangers Of Outhouses: Avoid This Disgusting Fate

Nobody prefers to do their business in an outhouse or porta-potty. However, if you love camping or enjoy outdoor concerts, these toilets become an unpleasant but necessary evil. Unfortunately, just like regular toilets, if you forget to empty your pockets before sitting down, you may drop your valuables (like your phone, wallet, or car keys) into the horrifying depths of dark blue liquid. While if this happens with a regular toilet, you may be able to simply reach into the clear water and pull the item out, with porta-potties, it gets much more complicated and dangerous.

The dangerous side of reaching into a porta-potty was discovered by an unnamed woman in Michigan who dropped her Apple watch inside an outhouse near a boat ramp. In a heroic attempt to retrieve her watch, the woman reached into the depths of the porta-potty and then fell in and got stuck. Per the New York Post, it took multiple state police and local conservation officers to rescue her from inside the toilet. While horrifying, this is not the only example of this disgusting fate. There are reports of multiple people falling into outhouses at both music festivals and campsites while trying to retrieve their dropped items. So, before reaching into an outhouse to rescue your valuables, it's important to evaluate the situation and decide if the item is worth falling in for.

Why you may not want to retrieve the item even if possible

Let's say your item is inside a porta-potty, and you aren't ready to give up on it just yet. You've evaluated the depth of the liquid and are pretty sure you can reach your phone or car keys with just your arm. If that's the case, even if you can do so safely, reaching into a porta-potty also comes with other dangers. Even though the blue liquid inside of a porta-potty is a chemical disinfectant, you will still likely come into contact with raw sewage, which contains pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella. On top of this, outhouses can contain unexpected and dangerous items like broken glass and used needles.

Therefore, if you feel the need to still reach in and grab your lost item, you should use some extra protection. One recommended solution is to wear waterproof gloves or wrap your arm in a plastic bag before reaching in to grab your item. The benefit of this is that you will give your skin some protection from the pathogens inside. However, for many, the best solution would be to fashion some type of tool that can grab your dropped item without the need to use your hands.

Using the tool retrieval method

If your dropped item is too far down for you to reach using just your hands, or if you are (understandably) opposed to reaching your bare arms into the toilet, you can try and make a tool out of a dog leash, stick, or other available items to help you. However, even if you have made the perfect retrievable tool, you still need to be careful about leaning too far over and accidentally falling in.

This was discovered by a woman in Washington who had dropped her phone into the outhouse and first tried to use her dog leash as a sling to retrieve it. When that didn't work, she made herself a safety harness from the leash and reached in. Per CNN, she unfortunately reached in too far and ended up inside the toilet but she luckily found her phone while inside and was able to call for help.

So, it seems that if you lose something in a porta-potty, the best option would be to consider it dead and gone. If this is not possible, you can try contacting the porta-potty company or local park service to ask them to keep an eye out for your valuables when the toilet is serviced and cleaned. Finally, if you decide to retrieve it yourself, make sure you have a friend with you who can hold onto you and prevent you from taking a tumble into a vat of raw sewage.