Our mission at EmergencyWater101.com is to is to educate the public, first responders, and emergency response leaders about safe drinking water in an emergency.
Safe drinking water is something that we take for granted in daily life, but when our infrastructure fails in a crisis situation such as a hurricane, earthquake, massive blackout, or an act of terror, water can quickly become dangerously contaminated. By providing people with trusted, scientifically sound information about this vital subject, we can give people the means to protect their families.
It all comes down to EDUCATION.
Our training starts with the guidelines published by the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA). These guidelines are solid, scientifically-based and practical. We fully support these recommendations.
These guidelines are a good starting point, but it’s important that you know more. You need to understand…
- WHY these trusted organizations recommend what they do,
- the weaknesses of the recommendations,
- and how to build on the Red Cross recommendations to have a comprehensive plan for safe drinking water in an emergency
So how can I say I fully support the Red Cross guidelines and then in the next paragraph talk about the “weaknesses” of these recommendations? Let me explain.
Water contamination and purification is a complex subject. The Red Cross and FEMA are trying to communicate the most vital information about this subject in a few paragraphs because this is as much as most people will read. Our attention spans–even when it comes to life-saving information–is incredibly short. The Red Cross does an excellent job of communicating the most important factors for the most likely scenarios in a short, condensed manner.
But there are some situations in which the Red Cross recommendations can be exactly the wrong action to take. We’ve created EmergencyWater101.com because there is more to the story. A deeper level of understanding is needed. There is no other site providing this important educational information. Even worse, many sites that are providing bad information.
In this series of articles I will give you a deeper understanding of safe drinking water in an emergency. I have spent my life studying the science of water contamination and purification. This isn’t hocus pocus. This is science.
So, let’s get started. If you find yourself in an emergency situation in which the safety of your water may have been compromised, the Red Cross recommends that you use one of the following three treatment methods to treat the water…
BOILING. “Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. 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.”
CHLORINATION. “You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Because the potency of bleach diminishes with time, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle. Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of bleach, discard it and find another source of water. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products (sold in camping or surplus stores) that do not contain 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.”
DISTILLATION. “While the two methods described above will kill most microorganisms in water, distillation will remove microorganisms that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals. Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt or most other impurities. To distill, 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 into the water), and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled. (See illustration.)”
And here is the illustration that the Red Cross provides for a do-it-yourself water distiller.
These are the only three recommended methods. Other treatment methods, such as filters, UV lights, and ozone are not recommended. Nor are iodine or other chemicals that don’t contain 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient.
An important part of your education is to understand why certain methods are recommended and others are not, which we will explain in future articles.
In the next article, we will look at the background information about water that you need to know.
The Red Cross recommendations can be found here.
Get our free ebook which includes a deeper look at the Red Cross recommendations. To get your copy, send a blank email to FREEBOOK@EmergencyWater101.com
Watch our free educational video series here.