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
Don’t Leave Home Without Your SunOven®
Evacuating with you Sun Oven® makes sense. Here’s why. You can pack it full of cold items to eat and drink in the shelter. They will stay cool for some time because of its insulated design. When the storm passes, you will be able to set up outside and make a welcomed hot meal. Don’t forget to take your WAPI kit to be able to pasteurize water, too.
October 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson, editor
Water is the most critical of basic needs
65% of the human body is water. It flows through the blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells and flushing wastes out of the body. It cushions our joints and soft tissues. Without water intake, we cannot digest or absorb food. In hot conditions, dehydration will set in within an hour. Depending on our physical condition, we can survive for only 3–5 days without it.
Even though 780 million people in the world are without access to clean water, we expect it to flow from our taps when we turn the spigot. Any disaster that interrupts the electricity may interrupt water flow. It is better to store some water while you have access to a safe water supply. FEMA recommends storing a two weeks supply, at one gallon per person per day, that’s fourteen gallons. You can store this much water in two 7-gallon plastic “Aqua-Tainer” jugs per family member. They are designed for this purpose and are available at WalMart for about $11 each. With a molded handle and a recessed spout, they are stackable. When you fill the containers, rinse them first and then fill about half way. Add 7-8 drops per gallon (1/8 tsp) of detergent-free bleach. Shake it up to mix the bleach and then fill the container all the way to the top. Screw the cap on tight. Store more water than this if you live in a hot climate or plan to use dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. 55-gallon food grade plastic drums are also useful.
Should your water source run out, you will want to learn at least two ways to collect and disinfect water from other sources, like nearby ponds, a hot water tank, and rainwater collection barrels. The SunOven® is a excellent way to pasteurize filtered water using the WAPI kit. (See July, 2013 – Every Needful Thing). Coffee filters are a valuable item to take the sediment out of water.
September 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson