Safe Water Storage and Treatment Tips

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When a disaster hits, the worst could happen. We will never know the reach of a disaster until it is upon us.  A plethora of things could arise that make the aftermath more dangerous than the event.

One of the most severe situations is the lack of safe drinking water.  If your normal and dependable water source is no longer available or suspected unsafe, you’ll need water.

Prepare yourself and your family, and all of your safety, by building an emergency, safe water storage supply.

Once you have treated, potable water then you need a safe place to store that water so that it stays potable and avoids contamination or re-contamination.

Determine Your Water Needs

The basic formula goes like this:

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.

Normal activity in a normal human will require 3/4 of a gallon of water per day for consumption.

Each individual is different and more water is always better than not enough, so stock up.

Who Needs How Much Water?

  • Nursing mothers, children, and sick individuals may need up to two gallons per day.
  • Medical situations may require additional water.
  • The hotter and drier your climate, the more water per person you’ll need.  In very hot climates, the formula should be doubled.

Tips for Water Emergencies and Water Usage

  • Drink and disperse the water that you and others need unless ordered to start rationing by authorities. In the absence of authorities, you should determine on your own.
  • Find or treat new water daily.  Drink what you need daily.
  • Minimize activity and stay cool to reduce the amount of water needed.
  • Drink water that is KNOWN to be not contaminated first. Then treat suspicious water.
  • Avoid carbonated and caffeinated beverages. Do not drink them in place of water.

Water Treatment Options

If you’ve used your stored safe water or if you need to treat water for storage during a water emergency, then you can use the below techniques.

Ensure that you treat all suspicious water as long as you have a treatment option available.  Contaminated water can be cloudy, have a foul taste or smell and can contain microorganisms that cause cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and dysentery.

Before treating water, make sure all floaters and large debris are removed as much as possible by straining the water through a clean cloth or even coffee filters.

Methods

  • Boiling

One of the easiest and safest methods of treating water.  Bring a large pot or kettle of water to a boil for at least a full-minute.  You’ll lose some water through evaporation but it is safer to let the boil go for 60 seconds.  Let cool before use or consumption.

To make boiled water taste better you can put oxygen back into it by transferring it back and forth from one safe storage container to another.

  • Chlorination

Household liquid bleach can kill microorganisms, as well.  Only use basic household bleach that contains 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite.  Don’t use scented, color safe or bleach with additives.

  • 1/8 of a teaspoon or 16 drops of bleach per gallon.
  • Stir.
  • Let stand for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, the water should have a slight bleach smell. If it does not then you should repeat and let stand for 15 more minutes.

IMPORTANT: If after the 2nd treatment the water still does not have a slight bleach smell then discard and do not use the water.

Do not use other chemicals such as iodine or water treatment tablets or drops that are sold in camping or outdoor stores.  They usually don’t have the recommended sodium hypochlorite content to properly treat the water.

  • Distillation

Some germs will resist the boiling and chlorination process of water treatment.  Water distillation will remove those stubborn germs as well as heavy metals, most chemicals, and salts.

Distillation involves boiling water and collecting only the condensed vapor.

What Makes a Container Safe for Water Storage?

Preferably, you’ll want to store water in metal, ceramic, or plastic containers. These containers should have the following features that will serve as physical barriers to contamination:

  • The container should have a small opening that is equipped with a lid or a cover. This avoids contaminants such as hands, cups, or utensils from coming in contact with the water.
  • The small opening should allow for easy and safe access to the water that doesn’t require objects or hands from coming in contact with the water. A spigot works great in this situation.
  • The container should be appropriate in size to the household water treatment method’s capacity to treat. It should also have instructions on use of the water treatment method and for keeping the container clean.

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For note, if you don’t have any containers with the above characteristics than it’s of paramount importance to educate the household.  They should be taught the proper method for treating water and TO NOT use their hands and other objects to handle the water.

These water storage containers can also be used to hold or transport non-treated water to prevent further contamination.  Obviously, these containers DO NOT remove contaminants.  NOTE:  These containers should be evidently marked as non-potable and kept in a different place than the safe containers.

Options for Safe Water Storage

There are three general categories for safe water storage:

  1. Existing water containers in home.
  2. Safe water storage in the community as part of a program.
  3. Commercial safe storage water containers that you can purchase

You’ll most importantly want NEVER PREVIOUSLY USED water containers for safe storage. You should never take used water containers and use them for safe storage as the control of how they were previously used and with what care. Unless it is a controlled, community storage program WE NEVER recommend using old or “used” storage containers.