When an emergency strikes, it’s not uncommon for your drinking water to become contaminated and unfit for you to drink. Depending upon the severity of the emergency, it could be several days before your water supply problem is fixed. That’s a problem considering you can only survive a few days without water. Would you know what to do if your local grocery store was completely out of stock of bottled water? In case you missed this post, Bottled Water: Is It Safe to Drink?
Beware Of Your Local Water Supply
Bruce, a reader reminded me about our water being contaminated. I sometimes forget the fact that I NEVER use our local water supply. I mean never. Yes, I use it to water my garden, but that’s it. Mark and I lived in a city called Farmington, Utah back in the 1980s. I started noticing the water was yellow. Then I grabbed a white coffee cup and filled it with water from the faucet in our kitchen.
It was yellow, and I couldn’t drink it or cook with it. I took the cup down to the city to ask why they thought the water was yellow. They said the water was fine. I showed my neighbors. We started to talk about the yellow water. AND then we started counting all the families that were affected by cancer. We calculated the people with cancer and who had died from the disease. It was every third home. A friend in South Farmington, Utah contacted the local news station. His wife had died from cancer. We all had questions, none were answered.
I started using water in the 5-gallon bottles. Then I learned the 5-gallon bottles of water were stored outside in the sun. WHAT? It’s not safe to store water in the heat outside. Good grief. Now, I only use Reverse Osmosis Water, period. Yes, you have to change the filters once a year and clean the tubes. I can handle that. I can’t handle tainted water.
How to Make Water Safe in an Emergency
If it comes down to it, you can still use that water for your drinking purposes. Sounds disgusting when you think about all the bacteria and viruses that may be floating around in it.
All you need to know how to do is to make it clean by killing those undesirables so that you’re left with water that’s safe to drink. I’ll cover with you several different methods, whether it’s boiling water, filtering, distilling, or using disinfectants to clean your drinking water. Continue reading on to find out how to make water safe in an emergency.
Boiling water is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways to make water safe to drink. That’s because extreme heat kills nearly all bacteria, viruses, and disease-causing parasites that may be lurking about undetected. Some people complain that water that’s been boiled has a flatter taste to it, but you can fix this problem by adding a pinch of salt to every quart of water that you boiled, or switch it to another container and allow it to sit for several hours.
What if the water is cloudy?
If there’s noticeable cloudiness to your water, you’re going to want to filter the water through a coffee filter or a tightly woven cheesecloth to remove any undesired particles and sediments. You may have to repeat this process one or two more times if the cloudiness persists.
Boiling clear water
Once the water is clear, move it to a pot on the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute. (For those living at an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, boil for a minimum of 3 minutes) Then allow the water to return to a cool temperature and then move it to a clean container that can be sealed tight.
Cleaning Water Using Disinfectants
When you don’t have the luxury of bottled water and boiling water is also not an option, using disinfectants is another method that you can use. Using disinfectants such as chlorine or bleach will kill most viruses and bacteria, though not all. Giardia and Cryptosporidium are two types of parasites that can resist and survive following a disinfectant treatment. You also shouldn’t use disinfectants to treat water that’s been contaminated with a chemical. It won’t make the water drinkable.
Using Chlorine Bleach
What if the water is cloudy?
First, pour the water through a coffee filter or paper towel to remove the cloudiness from the water. You may have to repeat this process one or two more times. If the cloudiness is still present, follow the steps below.
Adding disinfectants to your clear water
Follow the instructions for drinking water on the back of the label of your bleach. Be sure that you are using bleach that’s unscented and a concentration of 1% or 5% to 6% sodium hypochlorite. If there are no instructions for drinking water anywhere on the label you’ll need to follow these steps accordingly.
When using a 1 % concentration of sodium hypochlorite
For every quart of water, you’ll need ⅛ teaspoon of bleach. If you’re using a medicine dropper, you’ll need to add 10 drops of bleach. If you’re using a gallon of water, you’re going to need to add ½ teaspoon of bleach, or 40 drops of bleach when using a medicine dropper. Stir it well and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes.
If the water still has a murky or colored appearance or happens to be very cold, simply double the amount of what’s listed above.
When using 5%-6% Sodium Hypochlorite
If you’re using 5% to 6% sodium hypochlorite you’ll need to use the following guidelines. For every quart of water that you use, you’ll need only 2 drops of bleach added using a medicine dropper. When you’re purifying a gallon of water, you’ll need to measure out ⅛ of a teaspoon of bleach. Using a medicine dropper you’ll only need 8 drops of bleach added to the water. Mix it well and then allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes.
If you notice that the water is discolored or murky, or very cold, go ahead and double the amount of what’s recommended above.
Water filters are another option when you’re looking to make water safe to drink during an emergency. Make sure that you get one that has a filter pore size tiny enough to remove parasites. But you should be advised that most portable water filters out there do not remove all viruses and bacteria from the water. The Lifestraw Go Filter is amongst the best out there that won’t break the bank like some of the other water filters that are being sold.
Make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions before you use your water filter and then follow up by using a disinfectant such as chlorine, iodine, or chlorine dioxide to kill the remainder of bacteria and viruses that may still be present.
Distilling your water
There’s also the practice of distilling water to make it safe and drinkable. You do this by boiling the water and then gathering the steam in a separate clean container where it then turns back into the water. Here’s more on the process of distilling water.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can make water safe for drinking when you’re facing an emergency. I’d recommend boiling water above all the rest, but if that’s no longer an option because you’ve lost the fuel sources to heat the water to a high enough temperature, these other methods mentioned will also do the trick. How do you make water safe in an emergency? May God Bless this world, Linda.
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