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Emergency Drinking Water - Sources, Disinfection, and Storage
By Jeffrey Hamilton

Having safe drinking water in the event of an emergency is essential for survival and should be a vital part of your emergency preparedness and your disaster supplies. We take fresh water for granted every day, but in the case of an major emergency, such as a flood or earthquake, safe drinking water becomes a scarce commodity. Above all, knowledge in the care and mechanics of producing safe water can avoid the unpleasant side effects that can even result in a life threatening situation. By far the easiest way is to be prepared with commercially available emergency water that typically has a five year shelf life. Always have at least a 72 hour supply with your emergency supplies and don't forget to include enough for you're your pets. You should have at least one gallon per person and pet per day.

Sources Of Water

In the event that you run out of your emergency supplies or need to prepare for an event that is longer than 72 hours, there are several sources to consider and they all need to be treated for safe drinking. Don't forget the following:

  • Rainwater, streams, rivers, etc
  • Water heater
  • Toilet tanks (not bowls) if the water has not been chemically treated
  • Canned and/or bottled beverages and make sure that the seals have not been compromised.
  • Residual in household pipes - learn how to shut off the commercial water supply to avoid highly contaminated water getting into your home. Open the highest faucet in your home to let air into the system so you can remove from the lowest faucet
  • Ice cubes

Disinfection Methods

Above all, never assume that water is safe based on its source (unless from your emergency water supplies within date code) and take the proper steps to disinfect. Extreme care must be taken as to not cross contaminate containers and hoses from questionable sources to those where you are storing and using your disinfected water. Disinfection is to kill disease-causing micro-organisms like Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium. As outlined by the EPA, there are several methods of disinfection.

  • Boiling - the best method is to boil your water. Boil water at a rolling boil at least one minute. Cool it and pour it back and forth between two containers to improve the taste after boiling. At high altitudes, boil at least three minutes.
  • Chemical Treatment - there are several commercially available chlorine or iodine treatments available that should be a part of your emergency kits. However, if not available, household chlorine bleach (not non-chlorine bleach) typically has 5.25% available chlorine. Treat and wait at least 30 minutes (double when cold) with the container covered. There should be a slight chlorine odor, if not, repeat the procedure and let stand an additional 15 minutes. Be sure to check the bottle and use the following guidelines based on the bottles information:
     
    • 1% available chlorine, use 40 drops per gallon of water
    • 4-6% available chlorine, use 8 drops per gallon
    • 7-10% available chlorine, use 4 drops per gallon
  • Filtration - there are many commercially available filtration systems that are capable of filtering out micro-organism down to the Giardia level. When using filtration, it is very important to not cross contaminate the components that are in contact with the unfiltered water and that of the filtered water. It never hurts to filter and do the above chemical treatments just to be sure.

Summary

As outlined above, be sure to have plenty of emergency water on hand as well as methods to treat water should additional supplies be needed. Be sure to be very methodical and strict with procedures when it comes to handling and sanitizing your water supplies. Contaminated water can have life threatening effects, especially on young children, the elderly, or people with poor immune systems. Follow recommended procedures and, above all, don't cross contaminate.

Be sure to maintain your supply of emergency water in case the emergency extends longer than expected and don't forget the pets. Water is just one part of the equation so be sure to have a well stocked emergency survival kit on hand.

Kits 4 Disaster Survival is your online source for disaster and emergency preparedness supplies as well as CERT, Triage & Trauma, and Serach and Resuce needs. Please visit us at http://www.kits4disastersurvival.com/ to see our large selection of kits, supplies, emergency food and water, and first aid kits.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jeffrey_Hamilton

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