Emergency Preparedness: Water

“Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink” from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (published first in 1798).

We all “know” that water is essential to life, but are you fully prepared to provide for your own clean water needs during a disaster? Our reliable water sources may not be available after a serious earthquake, or they may become otherwise contaminated and unusable.

FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) suggests that you store at least one gallon of water per person/pet per day for a minimum of three days to be used for drinking, cooking, or sanitation. Target a two-week supply if you have enough storage space.

Water should be stored in a cool and shady location for best longevity. Plastic gallon containers of water purchased at a store deteriorate over time and aren’t easily stackable. We recommend the purchase of larger food-grade containers that can be safely stacked for storage. Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon so a five-gallon container weighs 40 pounds. Be sure that you can lift that much weight before purchasing these larger containers.

If you prepare your own containers of water, you need to first clean the containers by washing with dishwashing soap and then sanitize them with a solution of one teaspoon of unscented household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Once clean, you can fill the container with chlorinated water from your tap. Mark the containers with the filling date. Drain and replace the stored water every six months.

If you run out of your stored water, your home may still have several sources of potable water. Water stored in your hot water heater can be used once you turn it off. Toilet tanks also contain clean water.

This article’s preparedness item list (second of 12) focuses on a few more shelf-stable items from the store plus several things to do:

Month 2 Preparedness List (source: OCEM.org preparedness calendar)

Items to Purchase

  • Canned meat, stew, or pasta meal – 5 per person
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Family-size first aid kit

Things To Do

  • Change smoke alarm battery and test
  • Video your home, including contents, for insurance purposes. Store the CD/DVD with friends or family who live out of town.

Tigard CERT Inc. is a local non-profit organization allied with the City of Tigard that trains volunteers in basic emergency response and organizational skills following the Federal Emergency Management Agency model and guidelines for local Community Emergency Response Teams. Tigard CERT volunteers provide support during emergencies when our community’s professional emergency services teams may be overwhelmed by the situation. Tigard CERT also provides staff and support for community events such as the Tigard Balloon Festival, the City of Tigard Public Works Day, the Community Preparedness Fair, and other events. For more information about Tigard CERT, please visit our website at tigardcert.wordpress.com.