How to Store and Purify Water

Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority during an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Warmer climates can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need even more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. You should store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day. You should store at least a three-day supply of water for each member of your family, but a two-week supply is even better.

Storing Water

Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.

Seal water containers tightly, label them and store in a cool, dark place. Rotate water every six months.

Emergency Water Sources in Your Home

If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).

Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? You'll need to shut if off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines. Once you've located the shut-off valve, clearly label it and share this information with everyone in the household.

To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the house.

To use the water in your hot-water tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty. Click here for instructions on how to secure your water heater.

Purifying 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.

Three Ways to Purify Water
BOILING Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.
DISINFECTION You can use unscented household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms.
  • Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
  • Use only liquid bleach containing 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use colorsafe or scented bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.
DISTILLATION Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities.
  • Fill a pot halfway with water.
  • Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling in the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes.
  • The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

 

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources

If you need to find water outside your home, you can use these sources. Be sure to purify the water according to the instructions above before drinking it.

  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Natural springs

Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first. You should never drink flood water.

Contact Us

Highline Water District
23828 30th Ave. S.
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: 206-824-0375
Emergency: 206-824-0375
FAX: 206-824-0806

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