Water Storage and Purification
Emergency Water Supply
During times of serious emergency, the normal water supply to
your home may be cut off or become so polluted that it is
undrinkable. You and your family may be on your own to secure a
safe and adequate water supply, which may just be your most
precious survival item.
Required Amounts of Drinking Water Per Person
Rule of thumb: One gallon of water is needed per person per day.
A minimum of 14 gallons potable (drinkable) water per person
would be needed for a two-week survival supply. With careful
rationing, this amount would be sufficient for drinking, food
preparation, brushing teeth, etc. An additional 1/2 to 1 gallon
per person per day will allow for hygiene care. Individual needs
vary, so the following must also be taken into account:
Age, physical condition,
activity, diet, and climate (hot Arizona summers may double
the amount of water required per person)
Children, pregnant and nursing
mothers, and ill people require more water
Water Containers and Proper
5 to 55 gallon barrels are best
for long-term storage of water for non-potable uses. This
water can be made safe to drink by boiling or chlorine
addition before using.
Mylar bags or pouches can store
water indefinitely if properly stored in a cool, dark place.
Preparing and Storing Bottles for Drinking Water
Keep the drinking water safe from contamination by carefully
storing in clean, non-corrosive, tightly covered containers. Use
cleaned and sanitized 2-liter soda bottles or one-gallon
containers, preferably made of heavy opaque plastic with
screw-on caps. Sport water bottles prepared commercially work
well for long term storage. Plastic milk or fruit juice bottles
are not recommended due to proteins and sugars that cannot be
adequately removed providing an environment for bacterial
Wash bottles with soapy water,
then rinse thoroughly.
Sanitize bottles by adding a
solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid chlorine bleach
to a quart of water.
Shake well; turning upside down
a time or two so all surfaces of the container are touched.
Let the mixture stand for
2 to 3 minutes, then pour it into the next container. You
can use the same chlorinated water for several containers.
Fill the empty sanitized bottle
with tap water, and seal it tightly with cap or stopper.
Label with "Drinking
Water-Purified" and the date of preparation.
Water purification tablets may
also be used, and are available in drug stores and sporting
goods stores. They are recommended for your First Aid Kit.
Four tablets will purify one quart of water.
Some stored water may develop a disagreeable appearance, taste,
or odor. These properties are not necessarily harmful. Inspect
your water supply every few months to see whether the containers
have leaked, or other undesirable conditions have developed.
Replace every six months, or sooner if the water becomes
Methods of Emergency Disinfection
Strain any sediment or particles from the water by pouring
through several layers of cheesecloth, paper towels, or coffee
filters. Then use one of the following purification methods:
Boiling - Vigorous boiling
(rolling boil) for ONE FULL minute will kill any
disease-causing bacteria present in water. The flat taste of
boiled water can be improved by pouring it back and forth
from one container into another, by allowing it to stand for
a few hours, or by adding a small pinch of salt for each
quart of water boiled.
Chemical Treatment - When
boiling is not practical, chemical disinfection should be
used. The best commonly available chemical is chlorine.
Chlorine Bleach - Common
unscented household bleach will disinfect water, and the
procedure is usually written on the label. If it is not,
find the percentage of available chlorine (usually 5.25%) on
the label and use the following information as a guide:
|| 4 tablespoons
The treated water should be mixed thoroughly and allowed to
stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine
odor, if not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for
an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a
chlorine taste, it can be made more palatable by allowing the
water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring
it from one clean container to another several times.
Are you ready?
Food and Water video
4 1/2 minutes (online)
Solar water disinfection research
For more information about Purification and Water
Please contact the Water Quality division at 480-644-6461.