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In times of crisis or unforeseen events, ensuring access to clean and safe water is at the utmost importance. Water is a fundamental necessity for survival, and having a robust emergency water plan is essential for every prepared individual or family.

Emergency Water Filtration and StorageWe will explore various emergency water filtration methods and storage solutions to help you safeguard your hydration needs during challenging circumstances.

Let’s start with the basics. 

How Much Water Do You Need?

A general rule of thumb is 1 gallon of water per person per day. Try to build up from 1 week worths to 3 months worth.

Where to Start Simple Steps:

  • Buy several cases of bottled water.
  • Then start to think long term with water jugs.
  • Think about getting a water filtration system.
  • Long term water barrels.

Emergency Water Filtration Methods:

Water Filtration Devices: Portable water filtration devices, such as water filters and purifiers, are efficient tools for removing contaminants and pathogens from water sources. These devices range from simple pump filters to advanced purifiers that use UV light technology. Keep a compact and portable filtration device in your emergency kit for on-the-go water purification.

Water Purification Tablets: Water purification tablets, typically containing chlorine or iodine, are convenient and lightweight options for treating water. These tablets are effective in neutralizing bacteria and viruses. Follow the instructions on the product packaging for proper usage and dosage.

Boiling Water: Boiling water is one of the oldest and most reliable methods for purifying it. Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute (or three minutes at higher altitudes) to kill harmful microorganisms. This method is especially useful when other filtration options are unavailable.

DIY Filtration Systems: In emergency situations, you can create makeshift water filtration systems using readily available materials. Improvised filters can be crafted using layers of cloth, sand, and gravel to strain out impurities. While not as effective as dedicated filtration devices, these DIY solutions can make contaminated water safer for consumption.

Water Purification Methods:

Option 1: Bleach

  • Removes: Bacteria, Viruses, Giardia
  • Advantages: Tablets are lightweight and compact, Kills viruses, More effective when used with filtration, Inexpensive
  • Disadvantages: Waiting time, Not effective against Cryptosporidium or Cyclosporum

How Much Bleach Should I Use?

When using household bleach, use 2 drops for every liter of water or 8 drops for every gallon of water. Let it stand for 30 minutes before drinking.

Treating water this way is great if you get your water from a tap that is sourced directly from the earth, or if you are out camping and run out of bottled water and are forced to gather water from a natural source. Be sure to always use unscented bleach.

Chlorine is effective against bacteria and most viruses. Norovirus, an intestinal disease that causes diarrhea, is particularly resistant to chlorine and will require the water to sit twice as long instead of the standard 30 minutes before consumption. Giardia, a parasite with a protective coating, will survive in chlorine-treated water for 45 minutes before it is safe to drink.

Option 2: Water Purification Tablets

Chlorine can also come in the form of pre-dosed tablets which would be dropped into a container of water and allowed to sit for 30 to 45 minutes while the chemical begins to destroy the pathogens. Water purification tablets are very convenient for those who are traveling overseas or hiking in the wilderness.

The convenience of not having to measure the amount of liquid chlorine and being able to carry the lightweight tablets in a backpack has allowed these tablets to gain much popularity among campers, backpackers, humanitarians, and those traveling to areas where clean water is questionable. Read our article on water purification tablets for a detailed guide on how they work and which brands to use.

Option 3: Filtration

  • Removes: Sediment, Bacteria, Large parasites, Some heavy metals
  • Advantages: Quick, Taste of water not altered significantly
  • Disadvantages: Requires filter replacement, Not effective against viruses

Water filtration is probably the most common method of purification for personal consumption, mainly because of its versatility and ease of use. Water filtration systems come in many forms and sizes, some of which are even portable. We recommend the Berkey Water Filtration System.

Option 4: Idodine

  • Removes: Bacteria, Viruses, Giardia.
  • Advantages: Lightweight, Compact, More effective with filtration, Inexpensive
  • Disadvantages: Slow, Unpleasant taste, Not effective against Cryptosporidium

Iodine is very powerful. It can be lethal in high doses and should therefore be used to purify water only when other methods are unavailable, but not as a regular water purification method. Pregnant women, children, and those with thyroid problems, iodine, or shellfish allergies should avoid using it.

How to Use Iodine to Purify Water

To purify water with tincture iodine, combine two drops of iodine for every quart of clear water. If the water is cloudy, use 10 drops for every quart. Let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes and let the iodine do its job. Be informed that this will change the water’s flavor.

If you are using crystal or tablet iodine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, a bottle of crystal iodine can treat up to 2000 quarts of water.

Iodine is sensitive to light and should always be stored in a dark bottle. Like Chlorine, Iodine can come in the form of tablets which allow for convenience and ease of carrying. Read our article on water purification tablets to find out more.

Option 5: Solar Purification

  • Removes: Bacteria, Viruses
  • Advantages: Inexpensive, Easy to set up
  • Disadvantages: Depends heavily on weather, Very slow even on sunny days

How to Use the Sun to Purify Water:

One way to disinfect water through solar purification is through the use of plastic bottles and sunlight. Remove all labels and paper from the bottles and ensure they have no scratches. Fill them with water to about three-quarters full, shake for a half-minute to activate the oxygen, fill with water to the brim, cover, and then lay it horizontally, and expose it to direct sunlight.

For best results, choose a location where direct sunlight will be undisturbed for at least six hours. If it is a little cloudy, exposure time increases to two days.

Option 6: Boiling:

  • Removes: Bacteria, Viruses, Parasites
  • Advantages: Free of all pathogens if done correctly
  • Disadvantages: Slow and inconvenient, Flat water taste

How to Purify Water with Boiling

If the water is cloudy, first filter the large contaminants through a clean cloth or coffee filter.

Heat the water and bring it to a boil. Thermometers might not always be readily available, so bubbles are a visual indicator that the water has reached 100 degrees. Let it boil for 1 minute straight.

At elevations above 5,000 feet, boil the water for 3 straight minutes.

After boiling, let it cool and put the water in a clean container, and cover it so as to avoid recontamination of bacteria and microbes.

Boiled water will always have a flat taste. Swishing the water around before drinking or transferring it from one container to another can improve the taste.

Option 7: Distillation:

Distillation is the process of collecting the condensation from evaporated steam and is the most effective way of ensuring that the water will be free of all contaminants.

  • Removes: Bacteria, Viruses, Parasites, Impurities and Heavy Metals
  • Advantages: Free of all pathogens and heavy metals
  • Disadvantages: Slow and inconvenient, Free of minerals as well

How to Distill Water

The materials needed to distill water are a boiling pot, a container to collect the condensation, a tube to allow the vapor to travel through, and a heat source. Once the water begins to boil, the evaporation travels through the tube and collects in the new container.

Because contaminants cannot exist in steam form, the “new” water is free of bacteria, viruses, parasites, particles, solvents, and chemicals.

Because distillation is such an efficient process, it rids the water of essential minerals as well as contaminants. These natural minerals can be supplemented simply by adding them or by ensuring a mineral-rich diet.

Emergency Water Storage:

  1. Water Containers: Invest in durable and food-grade water storage containers for long-term water storage. Options include large water drums, jerry cans, or stackable water bricks. Ensure that containers are properly sealed to prevent contamination and evaporation.
  2. Bottled Water: Commercially bottled water is an easy and convenient solution for short-term emergency water storage. Ensure you have an adequate supply to sustain your household for the recommended three-day minimum.

    Have some bottled water on hand in various places in your home. Store under beds, in closets, make sure you have water in your cars.

  3. Bathtub Water Storage: In advance of a potential crisis, fill your bathtub with water. This provides an additional source of water for flushing toilets, hygiene, or even emergency use. Ensure the bathtub is clean, and the water is treated or replaced periodically.
  4. Rainwater Harvesting: In some regions, collecting rainwater can be a sustainable method for emergency water storage. Set up rain barrels or other collection systems to harvest rainwater during periods of precipitation. You can check sites like Offer Up to get these for cheap. They also sell large 55 water barrels on amazon.

Water Barrel Instructions:

Step 1: Disinfect Barrel

  • Wash inside of barrel with dishwashing soap and water. Rinse completely with clean water, ensuring all the soap is removed.
  • Sanitize barrel with a mixture of 1 teaspoon uncesnted chlorine bleach and 1 quart of water.
  • Roll or shake barrel to completely coat the inside.
  • Wait 30 seconds, then pour solution out of barrel.
  • Air-Dry water barrel before use.

Step 2: Fill Barrel

Use a drinking safe water hose, fill barrel with tap water. Water sourced from the city has already been treated and does not require additional treatment.

Step 3: Treat Water (If Needed)

Water sources such as well water, captured water, lake water or other untreated sources must be purified. Below are three water purification methods to consider:

  • Option1: Use a water treatment product such as Aquamira Water Treatment Drops as instructed on the bottle.
  • Option 2: Add 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach to a full barrel of water. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. Water should be clean and have a slight chlorine odor.
  • Option 3: Fill barrel with water from any source and as water is needed, use a quality water filtration device to purify water before consuming.

Step 4: Seal Barrel

To seal water and protect it from outside contaminants, screw bung nuts into fill holes and tighten with a bung wrench. Be sure to tighten smoothly without crossing the threads.

Step 5: Siphon Water

  • position a bucket or small water container near water barrel so siphon hose slopes downward.
  • Insert siphon end into barrel and insert plastic end into water container.
  • Keeping the siphon end fully submerged in the water, shake the hose in a vertical, up-and down motion until water flows.

Note: Water should not be stored directly on cement or in sunlight.

Water should be replaced and treated every 12 months.

Whatever methods you decide to store and purify water the most important thing would be just to start. Start simple by adding a few cases of bottled water under the bed. Then move onto larger quantity storage or more involved purification and filtration methods. 

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