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Water - How Much is Needed for Emergencies?

FEMA / Red Cross Guidelines

You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.

Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:

  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.

Safe Drinking Water

After an emergency, especially after flooding, drinking water may not be available or safe to drink for personal use. Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice, or make baby formula.

Note: Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

Floods and other disasters can damage drinking water wells and lead to aquifer and well contamination. Flood waters can contaminate well water with livestock waste, human sewage, chemicals, and other contaminants which can lead to illness when used for drinking, bathing, and other hygiene activities.

Before an emergency or a temporary problem with a community water system, a community drinking water treatment facility should have an emergency plan in the event that service is disrupted. Water treatment facilities monitor drinking water to meet federal and state regulations.

Make Water Safe

Water often can be made safe to drink by boiling, adding disinfectants, or filtering.

IMPORTANT: Water contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals will not be made safe by boiling or disinfection. Use a different source of water if you know or suspect that water might be contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals.

Boiling

If you don’t have safe bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling is the surest method to make water safer to drink by killing disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

You can improve the flat taste of boiled water by pouring it from one container to another and then allowing it to stand for a few hours, OR by adding a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of boiled water.

If the water is cloudy,

  • Filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter OR allow it to settle.
  • Draw off the clear water.
  • Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for one minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes).
  • Let the boiled water cool.
  • Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

If the water is clear,

  • Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for one minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes).
  • Let the boiled water cool.
  • Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

Disinfectants

If you don’t have clean, safe, bottled water and if boiling is not possible, you often can make water safer to drink by using a disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets. These can kill most harmful organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. However, only chlorine dioxide tablets are effective in controlling more resistant organisms, such as the parasite Cryptosporidium.

To disinfect water,

  • Clean and disinfect water containers properly before each use. Use containers that are approved for water storage. Do not use containers previously used to store chemicals or other hazardous materials.
  • Filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter OR allow it to settle.
  • Draw off the clear water.
    • When using household chlorine bleach:
      • Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops; about 0.625 milliliters) of unscented liquid household chlorine (5–6%) bleach for each gallon of clear water (or 2 drops of bleach for each liter or each quart of clear water).Add 1/4 teaspoon (or 16 drops; about 1.50 milliliters) of bleach for each gallon of cloudy water (or 4 drops of bleach for each liter or each quart of cloudy water).
      • Stir the mixture well.
      • Let it stand for 30 minutes or longer before you use it.
      • Store the disinfected water in clean, disinfected containers with tight covers.
    • When using iodine:
      • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
      • Store the disinfected water in clean, disinfected containers with tight covers.
    • When using chlorine dioxide tablets:
      • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
      • Store the disinfected water in clean, disinfected containers with tight covers.

Filters

Many portable water filters can remove disease-causing parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia from drinking water. If you are choosing a portable water filter, try to pick one that has a filter pore size small enough to remove both bacteria and parasites. Most portable water filters do not remove viruses.

Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the water filter you intent to use. After filtering, add a disinfectant such as iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide to the filtered water to kill any viruses and remaining bacteria.

Finding Emergency Water Sources

Alternative sources of clean water can be found inside and outside the home. DO NOT DRINK water that has an unusual odor or color, or that you know or suspect might be contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals; use a different source of water.

The following are possible sources of water:

Inside the Home

  • Water from your home’s water heater tank
  • Melted ice cubes made with water that was not contaminated
  • Water from your home’s toilet tank (not from the bowl), if it is clear and has not been chemically treated with toilet cleaners such as those that change the color of the water
  • Liquid from canned fruit and vegetables

Listen to reports from local officials for advice on water precautions in your home. It may be necessary to shut off the main water valve to your home to prevent contaminants from entering your piping system.

Outside the Home

  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of water
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Natural springs

Water from sources outside the home must be treated as described in the Make Water Safe section above.

DO NOT DRINK water that has an unusual odor or color, or that you know or suspect might be contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals; use a different source of water.



Are all Emergency Kits really 3-Day Emergency Kits?

Most emergency kits that are on the market these days call themselves 3-Day kits, but they do not hold up to FEMA's recommendations for the amount of water each person needs to survive. Make sure you truly have enough water for yourself and your family in an emergency!

Typical Levels Observed

Most kits only include one 3-pack of Aqua Blox Drinking Water per person per day.

That calculates to only 8.45 ounces per person per day. FEMA recommends a minimum of two liters (64oz.) per day for drinking only.

This means most Emergency Kits on the market only include 13% of the government minimum recommended volume of water needed!

Recommended Supply Level

We recommend a minimum of two Aqua Literz per person per day.

This will give you 67.0 ounces of water per person per day.

Based on this calculation, it would provide you with 106% of the government minimum recommended volume of water needed.


Survival Conditions vs. Emergency Disaster Conditions

"Survival Conditions"

The US Coast Guard has done studies on the minimum levels of water and food in survival conditions. Without water, a person average life span is between 3-5 days. There have been documented cases where a human has lasted longer than that in the right conditions, but they are rare.

The USCG recommends a minimum of 6 ounces of water per day for survival. This is a base number and can be affected by the size, age and weight of an individual. However these numbers are based on pure survival. Their tests were conducted on life rafts where there was no physical activity, just pure survival.

"Emergency Disaster Conditions"

However, "Emergency Disaster Conditions" are completely different. You're not sitting in a life raft or on a beach; you're evacuating, digging through wreckage, walking long distances and many other highly strenuous activities.

This is why we highly recommend purchasing 2-4 Aqua Liters per person per day of survival.

Most Economical Way to Store Water for Emergencies

Water Storage Drums are one of the most economical ways to store large amounts of safe drinking water for emergencies. They come in a variety of sizes; 5, 15, 30 and 55 gallon drums.

Based on FEMA's recommendations, the average person need 1/2 gallon a day for consumption and 1/2 gallon a day for cleaning, hygiene etc. That's a total of 1 gallon of water per day needed.

Based on that calculation, a 55 gallon drum would cover a family of 4 for just over 13 days.

Make sure you purchase the Water Preserver Concentrate to sterilize the water for up to 5-Years of Shelf Life.

For complete instructions and information on how to use water barrels safely, please visit our How-To Use a Long Term Water Storage Drum Guide.

For more information and resources on Storing Water for Emergencies, please visit the web sites below.


US Department of Homeland Security - FEMA
http://www.fema.gov/

FEMA “Are you Ready?” Online Publication – An in-depth 204-page guide to emergency preparedness.

English Version
http://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/areyouready_full.pdf


Ready Gov
http://www.ready.gov/

Ready Gov - Water Information
http://www.ready.gov/water

Ready Gov - Managing Water in an Emergency
http://www.ready.gov/managing-water


CDC - Center For Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/

CDC - Keeping Food & Water Safe After a Disaster
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/facts.asp

CDC - Personal Preparation and Storage of Safe Water
http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/safe_water/personal.html#containers

CDC - Make Water Safe (Downloadable PDF)
http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/pdf/emergency/09_202278-B_Make_Water_Safe_Flyer_508.pdf


American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org/

American Red Cross Water Safety
http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety

American Red Cross Preparedness Checklists
http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster-safety-library

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