In times of emergency, such in the event of a natural disaster, personal and municipal water wells may become contaminated by flood waters and local water treatment facilities may go ‘offline’ experience technical difficulties and go offline for a period of time. Both of these situations mean your drinking water may NOT qualify as ‘safe to drink’. So what can the average homeowner do at times like these?
- Boil the water — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states: “Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.” This method has worked for a long time and is widely regarded as one of the oldest methods of domestic water treatment used to kill harmful organisms.
- Chlorinate the water with bleach — The US Environmental Protection Agency EPA recommends that you then “Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.” While this method will not kill off ALL the harmful organisms which may have gotten into your water supply, it will kill of a good number of them. Please note that the US Environmental Agency suggests filtering cloudy or otherwise murky water through a cloth to remove sediment and other solids.
Once the emergency has passed, water quality experts suggest that people get their water tested professionally before resuming normal consumption and periodically check the water for a short time afterwards to make sure all fitration and purification equipment has continued to operate properly.