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How might an strong earthquake impact the availability of safe drinking water?

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the April 14th, 2010

How might an strong earthquake impact the availability of safe drinking water?

Earthquakes can result in major water service disruptions. Water deliveries to homes and businesses could cease or be severely limited. In some cases, harmful microorganisms could enter drinking water supplies as a result of water main or pipe breaks and/or damage to water treatment plants.

In a serious earthquake or other disaster, how long will service be disrupted and/or water quality problems continue?

It is impossible to know how long water service will be impacted. However, it is likely that it could take several days (or more) to get potable (drinkable) water to the community at large, especially after the first 72 hours after a serious quake.

Should I store drinking water in case of emergencies?

Yes. You should store one gallon per day per person to last at least 72 hours. If you have pets, you might consider storing additional water for their needs as well.

How will I know if my drinking water is safe to drink after an earthquake?

Listen to information over the emergency broadcast system on the radio and TV (or other official communications) and carefully follow their directives. For example, you may be instructed to disinfect your water before using drinking or to boil it. Information about sites where emergency supplies of drinking water may also be announced. (As you can see, having a portable radio with extra batteries is extremely important!)

In an emergency where the drinking water may be unsafe, what can I do to make it safer to consume?

Boiling water for one minute (after it reaches boiling) is the most effective way you can self treat water. Before boiling, strain it through a clean cloth to remove any sediment, floating matter or glass. Of course, great care should be taken to prevent burns or fires when boiling water. (Hint: Pouring the water from one container to another can improve the taste.)

In the above situation, what should I do if I cannot boil the water?

Boiling water should be your first choice. You can, however, disinfect water with common household liquid chlorine bleach. This will kill bacteria in the water. Add eight drops of bleach per gallon for clear water and 16 drops per gallon if the water is cloudy. Shake and let stand for 30 minutes before using. A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water. If not, repeat the dosage and let stand for an additional 15 minutes.

If what alternative sources of drinking water can I use in an emergency?

Water from available ice cubes, canned vegetables and commercial bottled water can be consumed.

How should I store emergency drinking water?

Storing commercial bottled water is probably the best way to store emergency supplies of drinking water. Emergency drinking water should be stored in a cool, dry space, away from direct sunlight. Though commercial bottled water should be your first choice, strong plastic containers (not glass) with tight fitting caps can also be used to store drinking water. Note: Do not use plastic milk bottles (they disintegrate over time). Sterilizing the containers and pre-disinfecting the water before filling (as describe earlier) can slow-down possible bacterial growth that can occur in stored water and would be wise. Make sure to label and date the containers. To be safe, stored emergency drinking water should discarded and replaced every three to six months (including commercial bottled water).

Can water from a hot water heater be used in an emergency?

Generally yes, but this water can also become contaminated and it may require boiling or disinfecting before being consumed. As mentioned earlier, follow the directives of your government disaster officials as to whether self-treating your water through boiling and/or chlorine disinfecting is necessary.

Can I use water from a toilet tank, spa or pool for drinking purposes?

This water should be considered your supply of last resort. Pools or spa water should be used only if it is first boiled (disinfecting chlorine bleach is probably not an adequate safeguard by itself). As mentioned earlier, don’t forget to strain the water through a piece of clean cloth before treating.