Water Contamination During Disasters
One of the most significant concerns during a natural or human-made disaster is water contamination. Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, mining accidents, fires, hazardous material spills, among many others, can cause water contamination. While it is possible to predict some disasters such as earthquakes and floods, very little can be done to control the damage that they produce. It is possible to live without electricity, but you cannot survive for long without access to clean water.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States has one of the cleanest and safest public drinking waters in the world. Over 286 million Americans drink tap water. Because most Americans are used to drinking tap water, which is most reliable, safe, and consistent in terms of supply, most of them don’t see the importance of storing water for disaster preparedness. A report by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that only 1/3 of homeowners’ store water that can last for at least a month in case of a disaster that cuts off the water supply or leads to water contamination.
That explains why many people suffer when disaster strikes that cut water supply or leads to water contamination. The majority of homeowners will run out of water in as little as two days after disaster hence forced to depend on relief water. Those who don’t get help on time usually end up suffering from severe dehydration, and those who drink contaminated water often end up suffering from illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, Dysentery, and Guinea-worm disease that can cause death if they don’t get proper medical attention on time.
Why storing drinkable water is critical in case the grid goes down
When conducting emergency preparation, we often think about food and clothing and bedding, but most of us don’t put much thought much about storing enough water. Most people think that water supply can never go off-grid; hence don’t put much effort into ensuring that they have an adequate water supply. Water is the primary and most significant necessity of humans and is crucial for our survival. When disaster strikes, the most critical component that will keep you alive is clean water.
Research as shown that humans can survive for up to two weeks without food but cannot survive for more than four days without water. This just shows the importance of water. Storing drinkable water can help keep you and your family stay alive and even thrive when disaster strikes.
When disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or hazardous material spill occur, water supply from the grid may go down for days and in some cases month. In case of flood and hazardous material spill, water may be contaminated, making it unsafe to drink. The best way to survive is by having backup water storage. Storing enough water can sometimes be the difference between life and death when disaster strikes.
How much water is enough?
Generally, a week's supply of clean water is recommended in case of an emergency. However, a recent recommendation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) revealed that people should store clean water that can last them for a minimum of two weeks.
A person needs to drink at least 1 gallon of water each day to survive. This means that you should store at least 14 gallons per person to survive for two weeks. It is important to note than individual water needs vary depending on current physical conditions, weather, diet, and age. It is, therefore, vital to store surplus water. For instance, instead of storing 14 gallons per person for two weeks, you should store at least 20 gallons of water per person for two weeks. Remember that the estimated amount is only for drinking, water for cooking, washing, cleaning dishes, flushing toilets, doing laundry, among many others have not been factored.
When storing water meant for washing or flushing toilets, you use any container, but if the water is intended for drinking, then you need to store it in a container that is rated food grade. Avoid using containers that have been used to store chemicals. Wash the container before storing water and ensure that they kept in a place that is safe and easy to access.
Best water storage techniques
1. 55 Gallon Plastic water barrels
These plastic containers are very reliable in storing drinking water for long. However, they consume a large amount of space when they are full hence recommended for people who have huge storing space.
2. Food grade plastic water storage container
Food grade plastic containers are lightweight, consume less space, cheap, and durable.
3. FDA certified glass water storage containers
They are easy to sterile, dishwasher safe, and durable. However, they are heavy and can break easily if not handled correctly.
4. Stainless steel water storage containers
This is probably the best and safest method of storing water for the long term. With these containers, you can be sure that chemicals will not leach into the water. They are also durable but heavy.