BEFORE an Emergency
- Learn how to operate shut-off valves to water lines, water heater and how to remove any covers. Keep tools handy. Mark valves and covers with fluorescent paint or tape to locate in the dark.
- Brace, strap, or anchor the water heater.
- Store 3+ gallons of water per person and additional water for pets. Replace commercially bottled water by the expiration date. Any water treated with unscented bleach should be replaced after six months.
- KEEP — extra water in all vehicles — unscented chlorine bleach or water purification tablets on hand.
- Do not add coloring/disinfecting products to toilet tank (a source of emergency water).
- Store food and water away from household cleaners or contaminants.
AFTER an Emergency
- Check local news and this website to find out whether your tap water is safe before you drink or wash with it.
- Check pipes for leaks/breaks. If necessary, shut off main water valve to prevent contamination.
- Check if sewage lines are intact. If necessary, plug bathroom sink/drains to prevent backup.
- Avoid using food or water that may have been contaminated by untreated water (i.e. broken water/sewer/gas line, flood, etc.).
- Don’t use pool/spa water as drinking water.
Emergency Water Supply
Here are some recommendations for an emergency home water supply:
- Thoroughly wash your water container. If the container has been used, make sure it formerly contained only something that was safe for human consumption.
- Disinfect the container by filling it with a solution of tap water and a few drops of bleach. Let it stand for 20 minutes.
- Empty the container and rinse well with tap water.
- Fill the container with tap water and store in a cool, dark place.
- While this water can be safe indefinitely, it is good to change it yearly.
Here are three different methods for disinfecting tap water after an emergency “Boil Water Order”
- Bring water to a rolling boil and boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water and let stand for 30 minutes before using. If water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the treatment and let stand for another 15 minutes. Note: Use only regular bleach with 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do NOT use scented or color-safe bleach.
- Purchase disinfectant tablets at a sporting goods store. Use 1 tablet to disinfect one quart of water or 2 tablets for cloudy water.
Emergency Drinking Water Sources
- Stored drinking water.
- Hot water heaters hold 30 – 60 gallons of water. Turn off electricity or gas to water heater before draining into containers.
- Toilet reservoir tanks.
- Melted ice cubes or juices in canned vegetables.