It is always important to be prepared for unexpected emergencies. Emergency supplies, especially water, can be critical to help you survive until your situation stabilizes. Here are some ideas about sources of water and how to treat water to make it safe to drink.
How to Sterilize Water
Many people don’t give much thought to being prepared for unexpected emergencies, but preparing now can reduce the impact on you later. In the case of potentially life threatening emergencies, one of the most important things you need to survive is water.
We have been impacted by many unexpected emergencies in our lives, but if you haven’t, it is likely you will experience a disruption in your normal life from an emergency sometime in your lifetime. Floods, fires, tornadoes, ice storms and hurricanes are just some of the emergencies that commonly impact a large number of people.
I have been discussing the importance of emergency preparedness and being ready for a variety of unexpected emergencies. In this post, you’ll learn some ways to find and sterilize water if you find yourself without sufficient water for yourself or your family.
How To Sterilize Water By Boiling
- Boil water if you do not have bottled water. Boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
- If water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth or coffee filter.
- Bring water to a boil for at least one minute. Above 5,000 feet altitude, boil water for three minutes.
- Cool and store in containers with covers.
To improve the taste of boiled water, add one pinch of salt to each quart or liter of water.
How To Purify Water Using Bleach
Disinfect water using household bleach if you can’t boil water.
Only use regular, unscented chlorine bleach products that are suitable for disinfection and sanitization as indicated on the label. The label may say that the active ingredient contains 6 or 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite.
Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
If water is cloudy, first let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.
Use liquid chlorine bleach that is stored at room temperature for less than one year.
To decide the amount of bleach you should add to the water, refer to the table below. For example, 8 drops of 6% bleach, or 6 drops of 8.25% bleach to each gallon of water. Double the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy, colored or very cold.
Stir the water and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes before use.
If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use.
|Volume of Water||Amount of 6% Bleach to Add*||Amount of 8.25% Bleach to Add*|
|1 quart/liter||2 drops||2 drops|
|1 gallon||8 drops||6 drops|
|2 gallons||16 drops (1/4 tsp)||12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)|
|4 gallons||1/3 teaspoon||1/4 teaspoon|
|8 gallons||2/3 teaspoon||1/2 teaspoon|
*Bleach may contain 6 or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite.
Other Sources Of Water
- ice cubes
- hot water tank (water heater)
- river or lake water
- the upper tank on the back of a toilet (The upper tank is clean water.)
If you know you will be losing water, immediately fill up ANYTHING that will hold water, including:
- trash cans
- baby pools
- cooking pots
- plant vases
- Plug sinks and fill with water
It is generally better to use flowing water than still, stagnant water. However, do not use water with floating material in it or water that has a dark color or questionable odor. Regardless of the source, treat the water by following the instructions above.
If you have a well on your property that has been flooded, make sure to disinfect and test the well water after the flood.
Consider how the water looks and how to filter it if needed. Disinfection does not work as well when water is cloudy or colored. If water is cloudy, let it settle. Then filter the water through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter first. Store the settled and filtered water in clean containers with covers and mark them so you know which ones are clean.
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