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Preparing for the BIG ONE: water you waiting for?

British Columbia’s current earthquakes are wake-up calls. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is clearly adjusting itself.

These seismic events may be precursors to Vancouver’s long expected ‘Big One’.
Are you prepared?

If you haven’t got an emergency kit prepared yet, this is the time to get it together.

Store emergency water
A major earthquake could damage municipal water supply lines, making tap water unavailable and/or vulnerable to contamination through ruptured pipes.

The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal has reminded us how devastating a ‘natural’ disaster can be. Don’t take adequate water supplies for granted.

If you store ample water in advance you’ve already greatly increased your family’s ability to respond to an earthquake.

How much water to store
At very least, you should store one gallon per person per day for three days. Extra if you have pets. A three-week supply is preferable.

Water storage containers for an emergency
Look for sturdy, re-usable one- to five-gallon plastic containers made of number 2, 4 or 5 plastic. Yes, plastic for portability. Glass is too heavy for emergency use. Best not to rely on one or two gallon containers typically found in grocery store as they aren’t designed for long-term storage.

Home owners may be well advised to also store water in large food-grade plastic drums.

Sanitation and six month replacement schedule
Make sure the containers are sanitized before filling them with chlorinated tap water. Yes, chlorinated.   Hopefully you will never have to use this water but if you do, better that it be sterile than bacteria-ridden. Make yourself a reminder to replace the water in these containers every six months.

Alternate emergency water sources
Water from the following sources should be disinfected if needed for drinking in emergency conditions. Berkey® water purifiers will disinfect water from these last-resort sources as well as making it taste better.

Emergency water purification methods
Here are four methods to disinfect questionable water in emergency situations:

Local natural sources of fresh water
Vancouver has paved over all but three of its many creeks and streams. This is very unfortunate for many reasons, one of which would be devastatingly clear in the event of a water shortage.
Take note if you are lucky enough to live near a natural source of fresh water… a creek, stream, river or lake. Protect and respect this invaluable living resource. It could be your life-saving source of fresh water in the event of an earthquake.

Note 1: If emergency use water is very murky, it is best to strain it through several layers of cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter before applying one of the above treatments.

Note 2: Most drinking water filters are meant to be used with municipally treated (disinfected), microbiologically safe tap water only. They do not remove bacteria and will not protect you adequately in an emergency situation.

*Map from EMBC Earthquake Info page

Additional Links:

Prepared BC
B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan (PDF)

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