Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Storing Water

My 55 gallon drum and bottled water storage

The crisis in Japan has been making me think about emergency preparedness a lot. Now, on top of everything else, the Japanese government has warned its citizens that there are high levels of radiation in the drinking water.

The radiation levels in the water aren't dangerous to adults but infants and pregnant women are being told not to drink tap water. Of course, after that anouncement there wasn't a water bottle left in a store and there were many people who needed clean water to make formula for their babies.

It made me think about how nice it would be if some of those families had their own supply of clean water stored. Imagine the peace they would feel not to have to rely on the government to bring them enough water to keep their kids alive or to not have to wait in long lines at a store with only a small hope that there would be some left.

One gallon of water per person per day for two weeks is the minimum reccomendation to store. Pregnant and nursing women, children and ill people will need more.

Storing Water
You can buy commercially filled bottles but they should be used before the "best used by" date because the plastic bottles will start breaking down.

Water does not need to be disinfected before it's stored if it comes from a good, pretreated source. If you decide to fill your own containers follow these guidelines:
  • Use only food-grade containers (There are special gallon drums that come in a range of sizes. I use a 55 gallon drum but there are some in 33, 15 and 5 gallons too.
  • Avoid plastic containers that are not embossed with the "PETE" symbol
  • Do not use plastic milk jugs. the do not have a good seal and can become brittle
  • Plastic soda bottles (like 2 liter soda pop bottles) are safe to use
  • Never use containers that were previously used to store non-food products
  • Wash containers with warm soapy water and rinse. Before rinsing, sanitize the container by adding water and then 1 tablespoon bleach for each gallon of water. Shake well, turn bottle upside down and let stand for 1 minute, then pour out the bleach water and let the container air-dry.
  • Rotate your water by periodically emptying and refilling containers
  • Store containers in a dry clean place, away form direct sunlight and heat sources
  • Do not store water near gasoline, pesticides, or similar products, or anything that emits odors
  • If there is a concrete floor, place containers on top of a peice of wood/plywood that has been placed on the floor. (A wooden pallet is a great option- as you can see above that's what I use)
If for some reason you haven't stored water or you find yourself away from your supply and in an emergency situation there are a few ways to disinfect unclean water sources. (Not if it has radiation though)

How to Purify Water
If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water before using ONE of the following methods to disinfect the water:
  • Boil at a rolling boil for 10 minutes
  • Add 8 drops of liquid chlorine bleach (regular, unscented and unexpired) per gallon of water. Let sit 30 minutes.
  • Add 20 drops of 2% iodine per gallon of clear water or 40 drops pergallon of cloudy water. Let sit 30 minutes
  • Add water purification tablets according to directions on the package
  • Alwys use clean or purified water to wash any parts of the body that have come in contact with surfaces contaminated by flood waters.
 Additionally, you may want to consider having a water filter in your disaster supplies grab bag. My husband and I are considering one these. It can filter 13,000 gallons of water and has a 20 year warranty. You can read more about it here.

I hope that we can all be inspired to prepare for the emergencies we will face before they happen so that we can keep our families healthy and help those around us as well.

My prayers go out to all those suffering from the Pacific tsunami and related events in Japan. If you feel you want to contribute to the efforts of the Red Cross in Japan you can do so here.

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