Home Safety and Maintenance

How to Ensure You Have Safe Drinking Water in a Disaster

In the past few years alone, many of us have witnessed the horrific aftermath of several natural disasters occurring in the modern world. At the same time, we’ve also seen many man-made disasters strike several countries. In both cases, the aftermath is quite grim, with many people being stripped of their homes and possessions.

It’s clear now that we need to be prepared for any kind of disaster, as they usually don’t strike with much warning. If a natural disaster should strike your community, you might not be able to get water, food, and electricity for days or even weeks. Water quickly becomes very important if you don’t have access to it.

Unfortunately, fresh and drinkable water is fast becoming a scarce commodity as it is. Many of us have some sort of survival kit on hand in case of a disaster, but do we have enough arrangements for water? If not, it’s high time we did something about that.

Below are a few ideas on how to ensure that you have a solid supply of water to carry you through the waiting period in case of a disaster. It’s important to have proper planning in advance in order to keep you and your family healthy in the worst of times:

Where to Find Clean Water During a Disaster

You can find sources at home to ensure that you and your family have water in times of an emergency, whether natural or man-made. First, you can fill containers with any available ice and water, which can then be placed in your refrigerator. By melting the ice slowly, you’ll be able to have clean drinking water. Even without electricity, the refrigerator would hopefully provide insulation to help the water stay cool for a longer period of time.

Other Sources For Clean Drinking Water

There are many other places in your home where you can find clean drinking water, including the following:

  •    The Toilet Tank: You might be able to get clean drinking water in your toilet tank. This obviously does not mean the water in the bowl! If the tank is cleaned regularly with chemical cleansing agents, then the water it contains is probably safe to drink.
  •    Water Pipes: You can also get clean drinking water from your water pipes, which might have some collected water that’s waiting be to run into your home. Drain this water out for use and store it in a safe place.
  •    Water Heater: Hopefully, it will also be possible for you to get safe drinking water from your hot water heater by shutting off the power and allowing the water to cool. You can do this by opening the drain valve which is situated at the bottom of the tank and letting the water flow into a large, clean container.

Outside Sources for Cleaning Drinking Water

Along with looking indoors, consider outside water sources which might be safe to consume in an emergency. Some of the most common options here might include:

  •    Rainwater which has accumulated in a clean container or on a piece of plastic
  •    Water that is still in your garden hose
  •    Melted snow
  •    Streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of water
  •    Natural springs
  •    Ponds and lakes

Water Contamination

During or just after a disaster, your main issue might not be that the water in your pipes is shut off. A disaster usually means that the water available gets contaminated very quickly. This could be a result of the pipes breaking or cracking, overflow from sewage gutters, or problems at the water treatment facilities. Even if your taps are running and the water seems clear, you should test or at least treat your water before drinking it.

It’s very dangerous to drink contaminated water, especially with the high risk of waterborne diseases. The resulting health problems could include cholera and dysentery. Even if you’re just washing your body or clothes with that water, skin contact with the contaminated liuid could lead to skin conditions, respiratory disorders, or gastrointestinal diseases.

Filtering

Before you start any water treatment, it’s necessary to filter the water manually. This is done in order to remove the large sediments from the liquid. Pouring the water through something like a paper towel, coffee filter, or cheesecloth is usually recommended.

Preparing and Treating Water

However, you should be careful to treat the water before drinking it. Simply drinking raw water can result in stomach infections and other diseases which will only make matters worse. Here are a few ways in which you can accomplish safe, clean, and drinkable water for yourself and your family:

  •    Boiling – If you have access to natural gas, a working electric stove, or good old firewood, you can boil the water.
  •    Purification Tablets – There are certain tablets available in the market which can purify the water they’re put into. You should stock up on these and have some in every survival kit. These tablets will release chemicals into the water to purify it, making the liquid safe to drink. Some might know these as iodine tablets.
  •    Water Purifier – Plan in advance and have a hand-powered water purifier handy. This will allow you to filter and purify any water source available, whether it’s a natural body of water or the water in your pipes
  •    Using Colloidal Silver-Many people might not be aware of this, but colloidal silver is actually a very easy technique that’s been proven to remove impurities in water. It’s even said that Alexander the Great used to keep his water fresh by storing it in a vessel lined with silver. The working here is that the suspended molecules of silver bind themselves to the germs and kill off the proteins that were feeding the bacteria. Even a tiny amount of colloidal silver could purify a large amount of water if you make the solution correctly.
  •    Chlorine Bleach—This might not be the most preferable choice due to the strange taste of chlorine, but it’s quite an effective and easy treatment. This kind of bleach is easily stored for emergencies and is also cheap. As long as it doesn’t have any other active ingredients, you can use one-eighth of a teaspoon to purify a whole gallon of water.

Water Testing

When you’ve been the victim of a disaster, the chances of getting pure water are quite limited. However, if you have discovered a body of water or managed to get some out of your pipes, you might not be sure whether it’s safe to drink. Even after going through some purification techniques, there might be some doubt. You may not even have the resources to perform any treatments in some cases.

This is where the JNW Direct Drinking Water Test Strips come in. These strips are a great way to test whether the water you have is fit for human consumption or not. You can get a small pack of 10 strips or a mega pack of 125 strips at the link below:

A small box of such testing strip will be quite compact, so you can easily slip some into your survival backpacks. They’ll test for iron, lead, copper, fluoride, pH level, and several other factors when it comes to your water. All you have to do is dip the strip into the water and compare it with the color chart provided. This testing could save you from dehydration as well as complications related to drinking unsafe water.

Storing Water

If you want to be prepared for any emergency, it’s recommended that you store a gallon of water per day for every person in the house. Some people might need more water, such as kids, nursing mothers, the elderly, or those living in tropical climates. Ideally, there should be enough water in your home to last for about three days at all times.

It’s also important to store water in a dark, cool place, keeping the containers away from high temperatures and light. You should also keep the water away from substances such as pesticides, kerosene, or gasoline. If you don’t the smell could get into the water and make it unpalatable.

It’s fine to use your own tap water for storage purposes in case a disaster occurs. However, it’s essential that you use soft plastic, fiberglass, metal, or enamel-lined container options. Choose clean containers that haven’t held any toxic substances or anything that could result in bacteria.

Milk jugs are not recommended for this purpose, as traces of milk could result in dangerous growths. Make sure to rinse every container out with a chlorine bleach solution before filling them with clean water. This goes for even brand-new containers.

Conclusion

In the end, the best piece of advice is to ensure that the water from all different types of sources is not contaminated. If the water is unsafe, you will have to do something to purify it or avoid it altogether. If you don’t take this extra step, you or someone else could get very sick. Depending on the contaminant, the resulting condition could even be fatal.

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