Water Emergency Procedures
What to do and How to do it
During an emergency or disaster, the water supply to your home may be cut off or undrinkable due to contamination from broken pipes. If water service has been interrupted or an announcement has been made stating that the water supply is contaminated and not safe to drink, your water should be shut off at your ball valve. Make sure everyone in your home knows where this valve is located. It is normally located near the water meter. The ball valve should be operated from time to time to provide water, if available, for sanitary services only. Under such circumstances, you and your family may be on your own to provide a safe and adequate water supply for consumption until service can be restored.
Good Water Sources
Water may be obtained from: ice cubes, your hot water tank, your toilet tank (not bowl) and canned goods. Be sure to turn off gas or electricity, if not already off, to the hot water tank before draining off water for emergency use. The water valve to the hot water tank should also be turned off. Rainwater can be collected and purified as outlined below.
How to Purify Water
|Boiling||Boil vigorously for 3 to 5 minutes.|
|Purification Tablets||Purchase from drug store and follow directions.|
|Hypochlorite Bleach||Liquid household bleach can be used. It must contain Hypochlorite, preferably 5.25%. (Do not use granular bleach, it is poisonous!) Bleach should not be over 6 months old. Use 8 drops per gallon of water and let stand for a minimum of 30 minutes before using.|
|Tincture of Iodine||Same as bleach. If you must use toilet tank water, boil before using. Do not use chemically treated “blue” water. (Be careful! Most gadgets that claim they purify water are designed for microbiologically safe water only.) If water contains solids, strain water through paper towels, coffee filters or several layers of clean cloth into a container to remove any sediment or floating matter, then boil.|
Storing Purified Water
To keep water safe from contamination, it should be stored in clean, non-corrosive, tightly covered containers. Use ½ gallon or 1 gallon containers, preferably made of heavy opaque plastic with screw on caps. Clearly mark containers with current date and use or discard within one year. Empty household bleach bottles are good if clearly labelled, to contain water. There is usually enough bleach left in an empty bleach bottle to purify the water when you fill and store it. CAUTION: Children should not identify bottles which normally contain a hazardous substance as a container for pure drinking water. Plastic milk bottles are another alternative, but this type of container should not be your first choice. They are very difficult to wash clean.
Store Containers in a Cool, Dark Location
To increase shelf life of water, group bottles in dark plastic trash bags to keep light out. Prepare two quarts of water per day for each family member and any family pets. A family of four will need at least 28 gallons of pure water for a two-week supply. Inspect containers every six weeks for leaks or any other undesirable conditions that may have developed. If stored water tastes flat, it probably lacks air. To aerate, simply pour the water from one container to another, three or four times. NOTE: Do not use swimming pool water for drinking purposes unless boiled, as it can cause diarrhea. Use only after and if other sources of pure water are exhausted. Do not use water stored in waterbeds. Vinyl plastic releases undesirable chemicals into the stored water. Keep a battery-powered radio with spare batteries on hand for use in case of a general power outage for information about the availability of water in your area.