With many Americans having trouble finding toilet paper amid coronavirus panic buying, sewer officials have issued a plea: Use whatever alternatives you want, but please don't flush them afterward. "Bag it, don't flush it," say officials in Redding, Calif., where somebody almost caused a spill Wednesday night by flushing cut-up T-shirts they had used instead of toilet paper, the Record Searchlight reports. Authorities say the T-shirts clogged pumps at a sewer station, causing a pump to back up. Officials warn that sewer backups can cause fecal matter to back up into toilets, sinks, and tubs—and during the coronavirus outbreak, it could be tougher than usual to get the problem fixed immediately.
Officials say along with T-shirts, people should avoid flushing items like napkins, paper towels, and wet wipes, even the ones whose makers claim they are flushable, KRCR reports. "These materials do not break down in the waste stream and wreak havoc on the public wastewater system, causing line clogging, sanitary sewer overflows, and severe pump damage," Redding officials say. (Police have asked the public not to call 911 if they are out of toilet paper.)