Water is an absolute necessity for your survival. Stocking water reserves and knowing how to purify contaminated water should be one of your first priorities for emergency preparedness. You should have stored at least a three-day supply of water for every member of your family. Three litres per person per day should cover drinking and cleaning demands. Children, nursing mothers and the ill will require more water than the average person.
Even if your supplies run low, water should never be rationed. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
Water can be stored in clean plastic, glass, metal, fibreglass or enamel-lined containers. Never use a container that previously held a toxic substance.
Before water is stored it needs to be treated with a preservative such as chlorine bleach to prevent growth of micro-organisms. Chlorine bleach with 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite (and no soap) can be used. Stir in four drops of bleach per quart of water, seal water containers very tightly and store in a cool, dark place.
Hidden Water Sources
If an emergency strikes and you are left without a stored supply of clean water to drink, there are some other indoor water alternatives. If your water supply is questionable, boil it for a minimum of six minutes or purify it with iodine or chlorine bleach.
- Ice cube trays can hold several glasses of potable water.
- Hot Water Tank: Water contained in your hot water tank can be used in an emergency. However, first make sure that the electricity or gas is shut off. Open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot water faucet. Remember: Do not turn the electricity or gas back on when the tank is empty. Also, know the location of your incoming water valve. If there are reports of broken water and sewage lines you will need to turn this valve off to prevent contaminated water from entering your home.
- Plumbing Water: To use this source of water, let air into the plumbing by opening the highest faucet in your home and draining the water from the lowest one. As with using the hot water tank, be sure you know the location of your incoming water valve. Turning this valve off protects your reserve from being contaminated by breaks in the lines outside your home.
- Toilet Reservoir Tank (A Last Resort): Water stored in the reservoir tank must be purified first before drinking.
- Waterbeds (Also a Last Resort): A waterbed can hold up to 400 gallons of water. However, some may contain toxic chemicals that cannot be removed by many purifiers. If your waterbed is a designated source of emergency drinking water, drain it annually and refill it with fresh water containing 2 ounces of bleach for every 120 gallons.