Whether you get water from a municipal water system or your home has a private well, your water supply depends on having power to operate the system. During a power outage—or any disaster that can cause a power outage, such as high winds, earthquakes, or a flood—you may find yourself without drinkable water. In order to be self-sufficient regarding your water storage, your family needs to plan for one gallon of water per person, per day, for two weeks, according to state guidelines. Choose one of the following things to do this month to become better prepared:
Purchase and store two weeks of commercially bottled water for everyone in your household. During an emergency, you should drink at least two quarts (one half gallon) of water a day. Drink 3-4 quarts a day if you are in a hot climate, pregnant, sick, or a child. Some of your one gallon per day of water in your emergency supply will be used for cooking or washing. Also include an extra one gallon for a medium size pet. That one gallon should last three days, but plan for more or less if your pet is very large or very small. The Food and Drug Administration says that commercially bottled water has an unlimited safe shelf life when stored in an unopened, sealed container located in a cool, dry place. However, long term storage of water near items that have strong odors or fumes (kitty litter, gas), may result in the water having an off taste. Bottlers may voluntarily put expiration dates on their labels. However, this does not mean that water goes“bad” or becomes unhealthy. If properly stored, there is no need to rotate commercially bottled water. However, the water container itself may degrade over many years and should be checked periodically.
Bottle a two week supply of water at home. You can store water in food-grade bottles if you take some precautions. Thoroughly clean and rinse your bottle. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of one teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to one quart of water . Swirl the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water. Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water . If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water . Place a date on the outside of the bottle so you can know when you filled it. Store in a cool, dark place. Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months. Note: Try to use clear plastic bottles with tight sealing caps. Milk jugs don’t make good water storage containers, they don’t seal well, and water stored in them can sometimes develop a plastic taste. Only use bottles that originally had beverages in them (large plastic soft drink bottles work well). See the previous paragraph to find out how much water you should have for your family in an emergency.
Learn how to provide a safe supply of drinking water for your household in a disaster. How can you make this happen? Here are three options:
Water Heater—Do NOT use if the tank or fixtures have been submerged in floodwater!
1. Turn off the gas or electricity to water heater (turn off electricity at the fuse or breaker box, turn off gas by locating the valve supplying the hot water heater and turning the valve handle so that it crosses—is not lined up with—the gas line).
2. Turn off the water intake valve (should be located near the water heater).
3. Open the drain at the bottom of the tank.
4. Turn on a hot water faucet (water will drain from the tank, not the faucet). Discard the first few gallons if they contain rust of sediment. Do not turn the gas or electricity back on until the tank is refilled.
1. Turn off main water valve where the water comes into the house (usually near the water meter if you have city water).
2. Let air into the pipes by turning on the highest faucet in your house.
3. Get water from the lowest faucet in your house (never get water from faucets that have been submerged in floodwater).
If you have freezer space, consider freezing part of your water supply. This has the added advantage of keeping food in the freezer cold longer during a power outage.