About 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 only survive for only 3–5 days without it.
In the United States, water is regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and distributed by local water treatment companies. They often deliver water and take away sanitary waste through an underground water/sewer system to homes in a community or city. Homes outside the delivery area need to provide their own water source from a well or spring and dispose of waste water into a septic tank. These systems generally rely on electricity to pump and move the water. In the event of an emergency disrupting the electricity, available water will generally be limited to what you have on hand.
Preparedness authorities like FEMA recommend storing at least 14 gallons of water per person. Each person will be allowed one gallon of water a day, so these 14 gallons will last two weeks. A family of 4 would want to store about 56 gallons of water. Some should be stored stationary, like in a large drum and some should be portable, in case you need to move. Three days worth of water should be included in your 72 hour kit. This is just enough for a minimum amount of water – just enough for drinking and light sanitation. To use water for cooking, bathing, or other needs, you’ll want to store more.
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.
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.
Where can I purchase water storage containers?
An internet search will provide an abundance of sources from which to order water storage containers including
- Emergency Essentials: Offers several sizes of large storage containers from 5 gallon to 55 gallon barrels. (From time to time, they offer storage containers at special prices)
- The Ready Store: Also has containers from 2.5 gallon portable jugs to one fitting a 65 gallon emergency bathtub
- Local stores like Wal-Mart, Lowes and Home Depot all contain variety of water storage devices in assorted sizes to fit your storage space.
Water aquifers around the world are lower than ever. We should all be concentrating on conserving water. Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water shortage rules in effect in your community.
Every drop counts.
Billie Nicholson, Editor