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Item of the Week: Water

Jun 5, 2019

How do you create and store an emergency water supply?

1. Calculate the amount of water you need. You’ll want at least 1 gallon per day per person or pet for at least 3 days. This water will be for both drinking and hygiene.

  • 1 person = 1 gallon X 1 (person) X 3 (days) = 3 gallons total
  • 4 people = 1 gallon X 4 (person) X 3 (days) = 12 gallons total

Note: The average person performing normal amounts of physical activity requires about ¾ a gallon of water per day, leaving ¼ a gallon for hygiene. If you are in a hot climate, are pregnant, and/or have any medical conditions, you may want to store more than one gallon per person or pet per day.

2. Get your water. You can buy water in bottles, jugs, or even pouches. You can also purchase containers and fill them with water yourself. Be sure to purchase food-grade water storage containers and to clean them with dishwashing soap and water before filling them with chlorinated water.

Additionally, you can fill bottles with screw tops (like milk jugs and plastic soda bottles) with chlorinated water. Be sure to clean the bottles with warm, soapy water and then fill them with a bleach solution (one teaspoon of household liquid bleach with 5.25 to 6% sodium hypochlorite in one gallon of water). Leave the solution in the bottles for two minutes, then empty the bottles and rinse them with water. You can fill bottles or jugs directly from the faucet.

3. Store the water safely. Keep store-bought water in its original, sealed container. For any containers or bottles you filled with water yourself, make sure the caps/lids are tightly secured. Also be sure to label your containers or bottles with the date of storage, so you know when it’s time to replace the water.

Keep all your water in a cool, dry, and dark place.

4. Replace the water, as needed. Check the expiration date for store-bought water and replace when expired. For water that was not commercially packaged/bottled, you’ll want to replace it every 6 months.

What should you do if your water gets contaminated?

If you think your water supply has been contaminated, you’ll want to treat all the water before using it for anything, including drinking, preparing food, washing dishes, brushing your teeth or even making ice.

Before disinfecting your water, you’ll want to filter it. If there are any particles floating in the water, either let them settle to the bottom or strain them through a filter (like a coffee filter or layers of clean cloth).

To disinfect your water, you can:

1. Boil -- In a kettle or pot, bring water to a rolling boil for a full minute. Be sure to let the water cool down before drinking it.

Note: Boiling is the safest way of treat water.

2. Chlorinate -- Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach (should contain between 5.25 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Stir the bleach into the water, and then let the water stand for 30 minutes. The water should smell a little like bleach/chlorine. If it doesn’t, then add another 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water and let stand another 15 minutes. If the water still does not smell like bleach/chlorine, get rid of that water, and try to find another water source.

Note: There are other water treatment products that are sold in stores, that use other chemicals (such as iodine) to disinfect water. These products are not recommended for use if they do not contain 5.25 to 6% sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient.

3. Distill -- Fill a pot halfway full with water. You will be placing the pot lid on the pot upside-down, but before you do that, tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid. You want the cup to hang right-side-up when the lid is placed upside-down on the pot. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled. Just make sure the cup is not dangling into the boiling water. Boil the water for 20 minutes.

Note: Distillation allows you to remove microorganism that resist boiling and chlorination. It also removes heavy metals, salts and other chemicals.

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