Boost Your Disaster Preparedness and Prevent Waterborne Illnesses
By Lee Bellinger
One consequence of our nation’s aging, deficient, and increasingly failing infrastructure is the threat of growing water delivery problems and use restrictions. An estimated 1.7 trillion gallons of water leaks out of corroding pipes every year. At least $1 trillion in new investment in water infrastructure in the U.S. is needed to bring our water systems up to par.
Recently, hundreds of thousands of residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.) had their water use restricted while workers struggled for days to repair a broken water main. Those without bottled water reserves or the ability to purify alternative sources of water (streams, ponds, etc.) for drinking were left dangerously high and dry.
A clean, reliable source of water is the backbone of your family’s preparedness program. And not just one, but redundant sources, as water becomes more valuable than gold when desperate people seek out an irreplaceable resource.
In this article, I’ll give you five different ways to assure that you have clean, pure water to drink no matter what. Think of this as your Swiss army knife of water purification – a handy collection of tools you can fall back on depending on the individual situation. Moreover, these techniques help protect you from what is already one of the world’s leading causes of death even in “normal” times – contaminated drinking water.
5 Ways to Ensure Emergency Access to Safe, Clean Drinking Water
During a disaster, water can quickly become contaminated. Breaks in pipes, sewage overflow, and shutdowns at water treatment facilities mean that even if you have access to tap water, it may not be suitable to drink.
Waterborne illnesses are a serious threat. Drinking contaminated water can lead to cholera or dysentery. Even simple skin contact with contaminated water may cause skin conditions to develop or lead to respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. You need a way to make sure the water you have access to is safe to drink.
A number of water treatment methods are possible, each with advantages and disadvantages. Before using any of these methods, remove any sediment from the water by pouring it through a cheesecloth. If you don’t have cheesecloth, use a coffee filter or a paper towel. If you suspect toxic chemicals in the water, find a different source.
1. Boiling. The boiling method is straightforward to use and doesn’t greatly affect the way your water tastes. It’s very effective when done properly.
To treat water using the boiling method, put the water you intend to treat in a pan. Bring it to a rapid boil. Hold the water at a boil for a full minute. Then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. It’s safe and ready to use.
2. Colloidal silver. Even though this is an ancient, easy, and proven technique, most people (outside of my own family of readers) don’t know about it. Here’s how colloidal silver works: Suspended silver molecules bind to germs and kill the proteins they need to survive, making colloidal silver a very effective antibacterial agent.
You can use a small amount of colloidal silver to purify water and make it safe for drinking. In one study, researchers confirmed the effectiveness of colloidal silver in fighting against a variety of microbes. They found that at even a very low concentration, silver is effective at inhibiting the growth of every microbe they tested it on.
Treating drinking water with colloidal silver is a simple process. With a colloidal silver generator and two cups of distilled water, you can make a 10ppm colloidal silver solution, which you can then use to purify gallons of water that will be safe for your family to drink. Important: Always prepare colloidal silver using distilled water, according to the specific instructions on your colloidal silver generator. Impurities in nondistilled water can alter the potency of your solution.
Once you’ve made a colloidal silver solution, add one ounce to a gallon of water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before using it for drinking.
3. Chlorine bleach. Standard chlorine bleach provides another option for treating water. Bleach can add a funny taste to your water. The advantage is that it only takes a little bleach to treat a gallon of water. Bleach is cheap to buy and easy to store.
Use a bleach product that contains between 5 and 6 percent sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Do not use bleaches that have additional active ingredients.
Add an eighth of a teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. The water should smell faintly of chlorine. If it does not, repeat the treatment cycle. If it still doesn’t have that chlorine smell, toss the water and find a different source.
4. Iodine tablets. Iodine tablets are the next item in your toolkit of options to chemically treat water. Of all the options, iodine has the biggest impact on taste. A slight iodine taste is nothing compared with the potentially deadly consequences of drinking contaminated water, so don’t turn your nose up at this option.
If you don’t have access to iodine tablets, you can use a 2 percent iodine tincture. For the tincture, add 5 drops per quart of water (10 if the water is cloudy). Allow the water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking.
5. UV treatment. UV treatment is safe, effective, and doesn’t affect the taste of the water when you’re done. You can also treat a liter of water in about 90 seconds, so it eliminates the wait time. You can purchase small UV water treatment systems through major retailers. Whole house systems are available if you want to treat well water or other water sources.