In an emergency, public water supplies may become disrupted or polluted, making it unsafe to drink. Since water is more essential to sustaining life than food, properly storing or purifying water will prove vital to getting your family through the effects of an emergency.
The general guideline for the amount of water to store is at least one gallon of water per person, per day – two quarts for drinking and two quarts for food preparation and sanitation. It hotter weather, everyone may require more water than this.
Another recommendation is to have a minimum two-week supply for your home. Three day’s worth of water should be included in your 72-hour kit.
Water should be stored in plastic, food grade containers such as water and beverage bottles. Glass and cartons should be avoided, as one can break and the other decomposes easily. If you have a water bed, that water should only be used for sanitation purposes. It is also important to remember to NEVER store water in old bottles of chlorine bleach or milk cartons, regardless of how well you cleaned them out.
Multiple ways to purify water for drinking:
1. Boil water vigorously for 3-5 minutes. However, a WAter Pasteurization Indicator (or WAPI) can help you use less fuel and energy to heat the water to a temperature that will eliminate pathogens and make it safer to drink. If you are using a Sun Oven, the WAPI will indicate when the water has been heated long enough for it to be pasteurized. See WAPI article on Page 3.
2. Add unscented household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) as per the chart below. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand for 15 minutes. Use fresh bleach.
3. Water purification tablets (Halizone or potable agua). Different types of tablets are available at drug stores or sporting goods stores. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Do not use tablets that are yellowish in color and/ or have a strong odor, and don’t use products that are past expiration dates.
4. Iodine: Use 2% tincture of iodine to purify small amounts of water. Add three drops per quart of clear water. Let stand for 30 minutes. NOTE: According to the Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, pregnant or nursing women or people with thyroid problems should not drink water with Iodine.
5. Water from swimming pools can be safely treated and used as drinking water. Let the pool water stand for at least 72 hours to reduce the chlorine level. Do not add chemicals to the pool during this time. Use a combination of ceramic and carbon filter purifying pump/filter to extract water from the pool. This type of filtration system is effective in removing organic contaminates and enough chlorine to render the water safe to drink. Most of these filter types can safely convert up to 13,000 gallons of water before the filtration system needs to be replaced.
Additional tips on water storage and purification
• Stored water goes flat. Aerate the water by pouring it between two containers.
• Immediately after a major disaster, prevent contamination of home water supply by shutting off the main incoming water valve. If water from the tap looks cloudy or has an unpleasant odor, don’t chance it – PURIFY IT.
• Clearly label and date all storage containers, especially those reused from other products.
• Consider canned soups, juice from canned fruits and vegetables, bottled soft drinks, bottled juice, etc., as sources of liquid.
• Use water stored in the hot water tank, ice cube trays and toilet tank (not bowl)
• Dirty water can be strained through paper towels or clean cloth to remove particulates. Boil and treat with chlorine bleach as directed.
• There is no effective way for home decontamination of water which contains radioactive or chemical contamination
September 2011, Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton