Emergency Preparedness Essentials


Managing Your Emergency Water Supply

Allocate water according to individual need.
A lot of people need more than the average one gallon of water per day. This need depends on time of year, age, physical activity and condition, etc.

Donít ration drinking water unless required to.
You should try to drink what you need today and then find water for tomorrow. A person must always have at least four cups of water a day. You can try to minimize how much water you need by staying cool and reducing your activity.

Don't drink water that may be contaminated.
If it becomes necessary, suspicious water can be used after it is treated. If treatment is not possible, put off drinking the suspicious water as long as you can but donít become dehydrated.

Donít drink carbonated drinks (i.e., Soda) instead of water.
Caffeinated drinks and alcohol actually dehydrate the body. Carbonated drinks also donít meet your water requirements.

Turn off all the main water lines to your home.
Make sure you and your family know how to turn off incoming water to your home. You may need to protect your water sources if local officials warn you of contamination or a break in the water or sewage lines.

Sources of Water

Where you get you water during a disaster can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the safety of you and your family.

Reliable Sources of Water

  • Melted cubes of ice.
  • Canned fruit or vegetable liquids.
  • Water from pipe drainage. In order to gain the water from your pipes, allow air in the plumbing by going to the highest level of your home and turning on the faucet. Small traces of water will trickle out. Then go to the lowest faucet in the house to obtain water.
  • You can use water that you drain from your water heater. Turn off the electricity or gas and open the drain found at the bottom of the hot water tank. Turn off the water intake valve on the tank and turn on the hot water faucet in order to start the water flowing. Once clean water is restored, youíll need to refill this tank. If the gas is off, a professional will need to turn it on again.
Unreliable Sources of Water

  • Home heating radiators or hot water boilers.
  • Water found in the flush tank or toilet bowl.
  • Water from water beds. The chemicals and fungicides added to them make them unsafe for use.
  • Water found from spas and swimming pools. The chemicals that are used to kill the germs are too concentrated to be safe for drinking. However, it can be used for personal hygiene, cleaning, etc.

Water Treatment and Purification

If you have already used the clean stored water and there is no other reliable water sources, you may have to treat contaminated water. Treat any suspicious water before you drink it, use it for dishes, brushing teeth, preparing food, making ice, etc. It will have a bad odor and taste if it is contaminated and may also have the germs that cause diseases like dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera.

There are several ways to treat water. Because none of them are perfect, often a combination of methods will be best. Let suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them before you treat the water. Make sure you have all you need in your disaster supply kit for your chosen method.


Boiling will be the safest option. Let the water come to a rolling boil for at least one full minute. Some water will become evaporated. Allow to cool before drinking.

The water will taste better if you pour it back and forth between clean containers in order to put the oxygen back in it. This also works for stored water.


You can also use household bleach to kill germs. Use only the bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.o% sodium hypochlorite. Donít use the bleaches that are scented, color safe, or have added cleaners. Youíll want the newest opened or unopened bottle because time diminishes the potency of the bleach.

For each gallon of water, add 16 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon), stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. It will have a small bleach odor. If it doesnít, add the same dosage and repeat and let stand for another 15 minutes. If it still doesnít smell of chlorine, throw it away and find another source of water.

Other chemicals that donít have at least 5.25-6.0% sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient should not be used no matter where it was sold.


Distillation will get rid of germs that resist boiling and chlorination. It will also get rid of heavy metals, salts, and chemicals. The distillation process requires boiling water and then collection of the condensed vapors. The condensed vapor wonít have the salt or other impurities.

Fill a pot halfway with water in order to distill. Then, tie a cup to the handle of the potís lid so the cup will be hanging right side up when the lid is upside down. You donít want the cup to be dangling in the water though. Boil the water for 20 minutes and the water that is distilled will be the water that drips from the lid into the cup.

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