Water Preparedness Fact Sheet, from
Washington Military Department, Division of Emergency Management
The storage and purification of water are vital issues in the grand
scheme of disaster preparedness. It is important to know how to store
water properly before disaster strikes and even more important to know
how to purify water after a disaster. Here are some important tips to
Store water in thoroughly washed plastic, fiberglass or
enamel-lined metal containers.
Never use a container that has held toxic substances.
Plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles are best. You can
also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
Seal water containers tightly, label and store them in a cool, dark
Adding oxygen by pouring water back and forth between two clean
containers will improve the taste of stored water.
Replace the water every six months.
Purification - General :
While the storage of water is fairly simple and straight forward,
water purification is a bit more complex. In addition to having a bad
odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that
cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis.
You should purify all water of uncertain purity before using it for
drinking, food preparation or hygiene. There are many ways to purify
water. None is perfect. Often the best method is a combination of
Boiling and disinfecting will kill most microbes but will not remove
other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts and most other
Distillation will remove microbes that resist boiling and disinfecting
plus heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Before purifying,
let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them
through layers of paper towel or a clean cloth.
Purification - Boiling :
Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a
rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind some water will
Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by
pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.
Purification - Disinfecting :
You can use household bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only
regular household bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium
Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches or bleaches with
Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand 30
minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat
the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
The only agent used to purify water should be household liquid
bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products
sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent
sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not
recommended and should not be used.
Purification - Distillation :
Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor
that condenses back to water. The condensed water will not include
salt and other impurities.
To distill, fill a pot halfway with water.
Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang
right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not
dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes.
The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
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