Emergency Management

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Emergency Management

Director: Douglas J. ten Hoopen

HOW TO PURIFY AND STORE WATER

Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. By taking time now to store emergency water supplies, you can provide for your entire family.

Store water in thoroughly washed plastic containers. Containers with tight-fitting, screw-on caps, such as soft drink bottles, are best. Seal water in containers tightly, label them and store in a cool, dark place. Rotate water every six months.

How to Purify Water:

In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis. You should purify all water of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation, or hygiene. There are many ways to purify water. None is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods.  Purification will kill most microbes but will not remove other contaminates such as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals.

Boiling:

  1. Filter water to remove as many solids as possible.
  2. Bring water to a rolling boil for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Let water cool before drinking.

` NOTE: Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.

Disinfecting:

You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners.

1. Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.

How to Store Water:

If you are using tap water that is chemically treated (such as water provided from a local potable water purveyor or water utility):

  1. Store water in clean plastic containers with tight-fitting screw-caps.
  2. Do not add bleach or any other agent to the water.
  3. Date the containers and store in a dark, cool place.
  4. Rotate water every 6 months.

If you are using water from a well or spring that is not chemically treated:

  1. Store water in clean plastic containers with tight-fitting screw-caps.
  2. Add 2 drops of liquid household bleach per gallon of water. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners.
  3. Date the containers and store in a dark, cool place.
  4. Rotate water every 6 months.

If you are using commercially bottled water:

  1. Keep the water in its original sealed container.
  2. Date the containers and store in a dark, cool place.
  3. Rotate water every 6 months.

Additional Resources:

  • FEMA Publication L-210, Food and Water in an Emergency

For More Information Contact:

  • Skagit County Department of Emergency Management (360) 416-1850.
  • Anacortes-San Juan Chapter of the American Red Cross (360) 293-2911
  • Skagit Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross (360) 424-5291

Feel free to print and save any emergency preparedness information for your own use.