Keeping your water supply safe

Do you have a safe water supply on hand if you are faced with a disaster? It is important to be prepared in case of an emergency situation.

When the unexpected happens, are you ready? We all need to be prepared to meet the demands of a disaster whether it is a water shortage, cut off of our electricity or a snow storm that has us stranded. Disasters can happen in many ways and catch us by surprise. Michigan State University Extensions says that you can make some preparations ahead of time that will make these crisis situations a little less stressful on your family. What is needed in an emergency and how can I store it? In the case of a contaminated water supply, the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend having a three day to two week supply of safe food and water.

Water can be stored ahead for use in an emergency. According to Purdue University Cooperative Extension, to store drinking water it is recommended that purified water be stored in a sterilized container and kept in a cool dark place. Before storing your water, treat it with a preservative, such as chlorine bleach, to prevent the growth of microorganisms. Use liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Add four drops of bleach per quart of water and stir. Stored water can be kept from six months to one year on a shelf, but should be replaced after this extended period of time. Purified water can be stored in a freezer for longer periods of time. Store a total of at least one gallon per person per day. Needs may differ between people depending on their age and condition, but an average adult will consumer two quarts of water per day. The remaining two quarts of water will be used for hygiene purposes and food preparation.

If there is question of whether your water is contaminated, one needs to purify the water before drinking, food preparation or hygiene purposes. There are various ways to purify your water. The safest way is to boil the water. Boil the water at a rolling boil for 10 minutes to kill any disease-causing bacteria. Add a pinch of salt to each quart of boiled water to improve the taste. Another acceptable way to purify water is with chemicals. The most common chemical treatment is with the use of chlorine bleach. The only active ingredient in the bleach should be sodium hypochlorite. Do not use bleach that contains soap. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

Remember, it is always better to be prepared before you find yourself in a disaster.

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