Water and Emergencies

Water is essential for survival. In an emergency, water may be limited or unavailable. For that reason, storing water is more important than storing food. Water should be stored in containers before it is needed; don't wait until an emergency.

For information on area water and wastewater service providers, please visit these web sites:

What You Need

  • Store one gallon of water per person per day for drinking. Additional water will be required for cooking, sanitary needs, and cooking. Hot weather and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill persons may require more.
  • Store water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, or enamel-lined metal containers (never use a container that has held toxic substances).
  • Recycle self-stored water every six months. Commercially bottled water (sealed and airtight) has a one-year shelf life. In either case, stored water should be dated and replaced at appropriate intervals. (Once expired, the water is sale to use on indoor or outdoor plants).

Sources of Drinking Water
For emergency purposes, you can use water already in your water heater tank, in your plumbing, and melted ice cubes. Do not use water from the reservoir tank of your toilet.

  • Use the water in your water heater by opening the spigot at the bottom of the tank. It will be easier if you attach a short section of garden hose first, then strain the water through a coffee filter or clean cloth to remove sediment.
  • To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the highest elevation faucet in your home and draining the water from the lowest one.
  • Locate the water inlet/shutoff valve for your location. Learn how to operate the valve properly and have the necessary tools nearby.
  • Pools, spas, waterbeds, and similar sources of water can be used for sanitary purposes only (toilet flushing and bathing), since they contain toxic chemicals which cannot be fully removed by purifiers.

Disinfecting Water

Water may be disinfected with a 5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution (unscented liquid household chlorine bleach). Do not use the granular form of household bleach or solutions that have active ingredients other than hypochlorite. See the chart below for exact proportions.

To Disinfect Water with Chlorine Bleach:

Water

Chlorine Bleach

If water is clear, use: If water is cloudy, use:
One quart 2 drops 4 drops
One gallon 8 drops 16 drops
Five gallons 1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon

Directions: Mix water and bleach thoroughly by stirring or shaking in a container. Let it stand for 30 minutes. A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water. If not, repeat the dosage and let stand for an additional 15 minutes before using.
  • Mix water and bleach thoroughly by stirring or shaking in a container. Let it stand for 30 minutes. A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water. If not, repeat the dosage and let stand for an additional 15 minutes before using.
  • Water may also be purified by bringing it to a rapid boil for 10 full minutes. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.
  • Water purification tablets.

The following agencies and organizations also provide additional information to help you and your family prepare for emergencies. For current updates on emergency preparation and other valuable information, please visit the links listed below:

Water Conservation
Click here to view water conservation information.