Monday, August 1, 2011

Water Water Everywhere...

When potable (drinkable) water is properly stored, it should have an indefinite shelf life
  • It’s still a good idea to use and replace the stored water every 6 – 12 months. 
    • Rotating water this way provides you with an opportunity to experiment and check the amount of stored water against what you require.
    • It also serves as an additional precaution against bacteria or viruses growing in containers which may not have been thoroughly or properly cleaned and sanitized.
  • If you have freezer space, storing some water in the freezer is a good idea.
    • If you lose electricity, the frozen water will help keep foods in your freezer frozen until the power is restored.
    • Make sure you leave 2 to 3 inches of space in containers because water expands as it freezes.
How much water should be stored?
The rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days. You will see government sites bouncing between this and 2 gallon recommendation.  Start with a 3 day supply, Then build to a 14 day supply, Next goal 30 days. How much more you stock is a personal choice. The Prepper and I, well we have 10 folks we’re prepping for and frankly bare minimum we would reccomend you to store is 2 gals per day per person. Factor in pets and livestock, its easier for us to round up to 3 gals per person per day this insures my pets are covered too, and if need be we have some water to barter.
Water for barter is good.
You can't barter what you don't have!

  • Use only food-grade containers. Smaller containers made of PETE plastic or heavier plastic buckets or drums work well.
  • Food-grade plastic or glass containers are suitable for storing water.
  • Canning Jars that you are storing to use later, put to good use fill them with water!
  • One-, three- and five-gallon water containers can be purchased from most outdoor or hardware stores.
  • Do not use plastic milk jugs, because they do not seal well and tend to become brittle over time.
  • Do not use containers previously used to store non-food products.
  • 55 gal drums, designed specifically for water storage can be difficult to transport, if the need arises, but are of a tremendous value in an emergency .
  • When looking for additional food grade containers, the bottom will be stamped with HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and coded with the recycle symbol and a “2″ inside. HDPE containers are FDA-approved for food. Containers without these designations ARE NOT OK because of possible chemical interactions between the water and the plastic.
  • Clearly mark all water bottles ~ “Drinkable Water”
  • Never use containers that previously held chemicals.

Water Storage -  Store water only where potential leakage would not damage your home or apartment.
  • Protect stored water from light and heat.
  • The taste of stored water can be improved by pouring it back and forth between two containers before use. This increases the oxygen level in the water which improves the taste considerably
  • Clean, sanitize, and thoroughly rinse all containers prior to use.
  • Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used.
  • Clearly label all water containers “drinking water” with the current date.
  • Do not store it near gasoline, kerosene, pesticides or similar substances

When and How to Treat Water for Storage

Do I Need to Treat Water?

Water from a chlorinated municipal water supply does not need further treatment when stored in clean, food-grade containers. Non-chlorinated water should be treated with bleach. Add 1/8 of a teaspoon (8 drops) of liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) for every gallon (4 liters) of water. Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used.

Once you properly clean containers, fill them with potable, or safe, drinking water.

In an emergency, if you do not have water that you know is safe, it’s possible to purify water for drinking. Start with the cleanest water you can find and treat with one of the following methods:

Boiling and chlorinating: Water can be purified by boiling. Boiling times may vary from state to state, depending on altitude. In Colorado, the water is safe to use once after it has been boiled for three to five minutes and has cooled. If you plan to store boiled water, pour it into clean, sanitized containers and let it cool to room temperature. Then add 5-7 drops, or 1/8 teaspoon, of chlorine bleach* per gallon of water (1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons). Stir or shake the solution to mix it. Cap the containers and store them in a cool, dry place.

Filtering and chlorinating: You can filter water if you have a commercial or backpack filter that filters to 1 micron. These are available in sporting good stores and are recommended for use when back-packing. They are not recommended to clean large volumes of water. Filtering eliminates parasites such as Guardia and cryptosporidium, but it may not eliminate all bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it’s recommended that 5-7 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach* be added per gallon of filtered water (1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons). Stir or shake the solution to mix it. Wait 30 minutes before using the water, or cap the containers and store them in a cool, dry place.

*Use liquid household bleach that contains 5.25 percent hypochlorite. Do not use bleaches with fresheners or scents as they may not be safe to consume. The above treatment methods use a two-step approach so less bleach is needed, yet Guardia and cryptosporidium are destroyed through boiling or eliminated by filtering. Chlorine may not be effective against these parasites. Since adding too much chlorine to water can be harmful, it’s important to be as accurate as possible when measuring.

· Distillation: 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.

Most water filtration devices are designed for use on micro-biologically safe water. Don’t assume they are safe to use on contaminated water. Check with the manufacturer to be sure.


Emergency Sources of Water

Hidden Water Sources in Your Home:
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water check these sources:
ICE Makers & trays: Check your freezer ~ melted ice is safe to drink
Canned fruits and veggies have water in the cans they are packed in, use this too!
Plumbing pipes: Do you know the location of your incoming water valve?  You’ll need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines
To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level.
A small amount of water will trickle out.
Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the house

Hot water Heaters: A typical water heater holds 30-60 gallons of water
    • 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.
    • Discard the first few gallons if they contain rust or sediment.
    • Let the water heater cool before draining it from the heater so it does not scald you.
    • Turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater to prevent the heater from operating without water.  
    • Once water has been drained into clean, sanitized containers, add 5-7 drops of chlorine bleach* per gallon of water, and stir or shake the solution to mix it.
    • Let it set 30 minutes before use.
Last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl). 

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources  If you need to find water outside your home, you can use these sources: remember to treat the water first!
  1. Rainwater
  2. Streams
  3. Rivers
  4. Ponds & lakes
  5. Natural springs
  6. Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color.
  7. Use saltwater only if you distill it first.
BTW: You should not ever drink flood water ~ why? there is too much risk with disease, chemicals, and Lord knows what else.

Using Swimming Pool Water: You should always view your pool as “backup” water
  • Keep the water treated; you never know when it will be needed!  
  • The maintenance of the free chlorine residual will prevent establishment of any microorganisms. 
  • The maintenance level should be kept about 3-5ppm free chlorine.
  • If other stored water stocks are not available, remove the necessary pool water and boil it or just treat with chlorine to the normal 5ppm.
  • Covering the pool at all times when not in use is a very good idea.
  • Try to keep the cover clean and wash the area you put it on when removing it from the pool.
Additional Information:


Diane @ The Paper Penny said...

Wow, I must say I love your blog! Very informative and actually cannot wait to show my husband (he believes in being prepared for anything as well). I will be back again and again for certain! Thanks for the work you've put in here! :)

Michele said...

Thanks for this detailed water info. I think with alittle work I should have enough water knowledge to make a difference now or at least I am much more comfortable in knowing how to be safer if I ever had to use the backup water sources. Thanks Again.

Ginger said...

I found out the hard way about storing water in old milk containers that I cleaned and sanitized. I had about 30 gallons I was checking the other day. Thank goodness there was no mess but the water had evaporated. I was wondering about using old bleach jugs?

Love your blog by the way can't wait to read more.

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