You should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking. That’s 3 gallons per person for your 72hour kit.Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:
- Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
- Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
- Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
- A medical emergency might require additional water.
How Do I Store Water?
Store water in the commercial packaging whenever possible. This is the safest and most reliable container to prevent loss or contamination. Remember to observe the ‘use by’ or expiration date.
If you choose to fill containers with tap water, two options are recommended for storage containers.
- Purchase containers specifically designed for long term water storage – this is a link to a great water storage option – the SureWater system
- Use 2 liter plastic soda bottles.
DO NOT USE Plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.
Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dish washing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
Filling Water Containers
Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water(See purification below). Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so that you know when you filled it. Store in a cool, dark place.Replace the water every six months if not using commercially bottled water.
Emergency Water Sources
So you ran out of water, or forgot to change out your expired bottles. What do you do now? You need safe drinking water!
This is a two step process. 1) FIND the water 2) Make it safe for drinking.
Sources of water in your home:
- Ice cubes
- Hot Water Tank- To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.
- Water Pipes – To use the water in your pipes, first shut off the water supply valve to your house. This will prevent contaminated water from entering the home. Next open a faucet valve in the highest part of your home to allow air into the pipes. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the house.
Sources of water outside:
- Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
- Ponds and lakes
- Natural springs
Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Saltwater can only be used if you distill it first. You should not drink flood water.
- Water Filtration Systems: When purchasing a portable water filtration system look for some key features. Portable, chemical-free and certified to meet EPA Guide standards for microbiological purification. It should remove cysts like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, and viruses like polio. Some added features to consider would be removal of chemicals like chlorine, pesticides and herbicides. (See our Katadyn Hiker Pro Rewiew – Here)
- Distilling: Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
- Boiling: Vigorous boiling for 3-5 minutes will kill any disease-causing microorganisms present in water. The flat taste of boiled water can be improved by pouring it back and forth from one container to another (called aeration), by allowing it to stand for a few hours, or by adding a small pinch of salt for each quart of water boiled. Let the water cool before drinking. The downside to boiling – it does not remove heavy metals, salts, or other chemical impurities.
- Chemical Treatment:While many types of chemical treatment exist it is recommended by FEMA to use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
The only agent used to purify water should be household liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used. While chemical treatment will kill most microbes in water, purification and distillation will remove microbes that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.SAFE DRINKING!!