Monday, October 2, 2017

The Importance Of Water Storage

By Forest Puha

As of this writing, I’m watching the residents of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria and search around their areas for fresh water to drink. Federal aid workers and rescue squads of all types are gradually coming into the island, but with electrical power lines broken and roadways cluttered with debris, help is slow in coming. This article will cover some points about storing water that I think can be useful in your home.

Analyze how many people you have in your immediate family. You should have at least one gallon of water per person, more in hot weather or depending on personal needs. FEMA emergency guidelines say to have enough for three days at minimum, for both drinking and basic sanitation. I have a couple of clear five-gallon plastic jugs that supplies my family with the minimum amount of water. These jugs are available in your local grocery or retail store for relatively cheap, and to refill them in-store can be done for a couple of dollars.

These are common and found everywhere. Get ones with screw on caps.

It’s also a good idea to buy a pallet of commercially bottled water and store it in a cool and dark place.

These pallets are good for both storing in your car and at home, but not as reusable as a larger jug.

If you have your own containers to store water in, make sure you completely wash them out with regular dish washing soap, hot water, and a teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach. Seal and shake them up before emptying and rinsing out. This will help kill any bacteria growing inside the bottles and caps and keep you from getting sick.

When you run out of stored water, there are also a number of ways you can purify water around you. Make sure any water you intend to drink comes from a reasonably clean source. Sealed water heaters are your best bet for potable water with minimal treatment. Once that’s done, you can treat your water in the following ways:

Boiling: usually the safest and most common method of making drinking water. In a large stove pot or tea kettle (even better if it’s copper for additional antibacterial properties) cover the pot or kettle with a lid and bring the water to a boil for at least a minute. Let it cool to the touch before drinking or storing, as excess heat will burn skin and melt plastic.

A watched pot never creates Cryptosporidiosis.

Chlorinating: only unscented household liquid bleach with a minimum of 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite will kill organisms inside the water and make it safe to drink. The rule of thumb is to add 16 drops, or about 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach, per gallon of water. Shake well and let it work for half an hour. The water will smell slightly of bleach, and that’s perfectly normal. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let it stand for another 30 minutes. If you still don’t smell the bleach, it’s beyond the ability of bleach to sterilize it. And remember: ONLY unscented household liquid bleach will work for drinking. Don’t use scented bleach, sprays or any other substance that may harm you when ingested.

Chlorine tablets also work well too. Use as directed.

Distillation: this process involves collecting the water vapor that condenses from boiling. The condensed vapor is usually rid of bacteria through the process. A quick way to distill is to angle a metal or glass baking sheet above the spout of a tea kettle, so that the rising steam will collect and drip down the inside of the baking sheet into a bowl or cup below as the kettle whistles. There are many ways to distill water with a boiling method, and all are useable in a situation with no electricity.

 From the National Self Reliance Association. How to build a small water still. Salt water can be substituted with the cleanest water you can find for distilling.

In an emergency, water is life and the key to survival. Make sure you have enough on hand to last you for as long as the emergency lasts, and you’ll be able to think straight and tackle any other problems that come your way.