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Emergency water storage for earthquake preparedness

Preparing for an earthquake isn’t anyone’s favourite activity. Who wants to spend time and money collecting gear and provisions for something that we hope will never happen! Here in coastal British Columbia we are overdue for the ‘big one’. The quake that struck last month
(on Sept 9, 2011) was a wake-up call.

If you haven’t got an emergency kit prepared yet, one very simple step you can take to get started is to store emergency water. It won’t cost you anything except perhaps the cost of the emergency water storage containers. This one easy step may help get the ball rolling toward gathering other necessities for an earthquake preparedness kit for you and your family.

A major earthquake could damage municipal water supply lines, making tap water unavailable and/or vulnerable to contamination through ruptured pipes. 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 and may leak after six months.

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:

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.

Becoming prepared is an intelligent act of self respect.