Monday, May 3, 2010

How to Handle a Water Emergencies

What would you do if you opened the faucet and no water came out?
How long would you wait before going to the store to get water or other drinks?
Do you have any water at home, work, school or in your car to last at least a little while?

There are a couple of water emergencies going on over the weekend.
In Boston a major water main broke leaving 2 million people without water. Because of the loss of pressure the system is contaminated so they have to boil their water before drinking it.

Boiling water is very simple take a large pot of water and put it over high heat until it comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and let it cool. Here in Denver with my stove we can get half a gallon of water to a boil in about 5 minutes. Then it takes about 2 hours for it to cool. 
The water will taste a little flat. To perk it up pour it between two clean containers a few times to aerate the water.

Alternatively you can filter the water. Understand those refrigerator and pitcher filters are mostly just activated charcoal and they deal with taste not contamination.
You need a filter with pores smaller then 1 micron to filter out spores and some filters go so small they even filter out viruses.

Stores are surging lots of bottled water in but it still takes time as everyone is doing the same thing, going to the store and buying bottled water.

Most people think to go first to the supermarket or megamart for bottled water, but lots of stores carry it. Convenience stores obviously, but I have also seen pallets of water and other drinks at home improvement, office supply stores and sporting good stores. 

Tennessee has a different problem. They are being flooded and one of their water treatment plants is underwater. They need to keep the pressure in the system about 20 psi or contamination can backflow into the system, requiring a purge. So the government is asking people to halve the amount of water they use, but not why. Now the problem is people are filling up all the containers they have, but since everyone is doing it, it is hard to keep the pressure up and the water might be getting contaminated.

It is best just to have a few cases of bottled water stored up before something happens. It is very cheap insurance to fill a few empty and clean soda bottles with water. I don't recommend using milk jugs since they are biodegradable and will start leaking in a few months.

  • Keep at least 1 gallon/person/day on hand. 
  • Keep it under the bathroom sink or other cool, dry place that won't freeze.
  • Rotate semi-annually.