Emergency Preparedness Down the Drain-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Emergency Preparedness Down the Drain

While the holiday season has come and gone, we Western Pennsylvanians know that the winter weather doesn’t disappear with the giftwrap and Aunt Marge’s eggnog.  Freezing temperatures, snow, ice—all of this loveliness can be expected to stick around for quite a bit longer. 

Though the media often covers power outages due to winter storms, one consequence of this weather that most do not consider is the potential for water supply disruptions due to water main breaks, burst pipes, etc.  Since water is essential for our survival, it is critical to prepare for such an emergency.

How Much Water Should I Store?
-At minimum, store one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.  Maintain a three day supply for each person. 

-Substitute alcohol-based hand sanitizers/wipes for hand-washing, if necessary.

How Should I Store Water?
-For the safest and most reliable emergency water supply, store unopened, commercially-bottled water in its original container in a cool, dark place. Observe the “Use-by” date.

-To prepare your own water for storage, obtain 2 liter, plastic, soda bottles. Wash and rinse thoroughly. Sanitize by swirling a bleach solution (1 tsp non-scented chlorine bleach per quart of water) over all interior surfaces.  Rinse well. Fill with tap water. If the water comes from a well or water source not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.  A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable; if not, add another two drops of bleach and allow to stand for another 15 minutes. Tightly close the containers and label with the date filled. Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.

More information on water treatment is available at www.ready.gov/water and RedCross.org

By: Angela Reid, angelar@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-7502