Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/479

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
463
SANITARY WORK IN GREAT DISASTERS.

applied for the same. In this way the population was largely reduced.

10. If the distress of the survivors is very great, it may be necessary for the sanitary officers to assist the inhabitants in the disinfecting and cleansing of their homes. At Johnstown some thirteen hundred cellars were cleansed by the State, and the débris was removed from the streets and lots, wherever it was found to contain the bodies of human beings and animals in numbers sufficient to endanger the public health. This work of cleansing the district can only be considered the work of the State so long as the district is in a condition to be denominated a public nuisance. When this ceases, the work of the State must also cease.

11. So soon as the disinfectants arrive, the sanitary officer must see to their proper distribution and instruct the people as to their proper use. At Johnstown, each sanitary inspector in charge of a district was authorized to open one or more depots, in places most convenient for the inhabitants of his district, in which depots disinfectants were stored. Large placards were then printed and posted over each district, telling the inhabitants where they could obtain disinfectants, and urging them to go and obtain supplies of the same. Circulars of information were given to all who applied, as also oral information, explaining how to use each disinfectant. The result was, that people came by the hundreds and carried the disinfectants to their homes, using them with good effect. These stations should be kept open just so long as the district is in a bad sanitary condition. Reference may be made here to the mode of using some of the more common disinfectants. The débris formed of the broken houses and forest trees, together with carpets, bedding, and household effects which had become worthless, were, at Johnstown, destroyed by fire, along with the bodies of the domestic animals. For fully three weeks immense fires were burning at Johnstown, formed of the débris and in these fires hundreds of animals were cremated. In the case of a great flood, those articles which it is desirable to burn may be water-soaked, as was the case at Johnstown. Cremation in such cases may be hastened by the addition of petroleum, though at Johnstown a large donation of tar and rosin, made by the citizens of Wilmington, K C, was used to aid in the combustion of these wet substances. The rosin was found to have very advantageous properties when applied to the cremation of carcasses. It appeared to destroy the unpleasant odors arising from the burning flesh, and in place gave out an agreeable balsamic fragrance. It also burned with great heat, hastening combustion, and could not be extinguished by heavy rains. By using rosin liberally, and adding driftwood, there was no trouble in entirely destroying the domestic animals with a single firing. The