Be Prepared for an Emergency!

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:
  1. Thoroughly wash your water container. If the container has been used, make sure it formerly contained only something that was safe for human consumption.
  2. Disinfect the container by filling it with a solution of tap water and a few drops of bleach. Let it stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Empty the container and rinse well with tap water.
  4. Fill the container with tap water and store in a cool, dark place.
  5. 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”
  1. Bring water to a rolling boil and boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.