Do 1 Thing February: Water

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By Cate Shockey

This blog is part of a

series, covering a preparedness topic each month from the Do 1 Thing Program.  Join us this month as we discuss “water.”

Whether you live in the country or the city, your water supply relies on electricity.  If the water purification system in your area is compromised, whether due to severe flooding, power outages, or other problems, the water supply becomes unsafe to drink.  As a result, you need to know how to find a source of safe drinking water or how to treat water for use.  It’s recommended to have enough water on-hand for your family to last three days. You will need one gallon of water per person per day.

My household water supply.
My household water supply.

I knew this one would be easy.  I swooped in to the grocery store and loaded up my three jugs of water and happily went home where I was greeted by my favorite four-legged friend…who I forgot will also need water in an emergency. After a quick check of the Do 1 Thing website, I confirmed that my pup also needed one gallon to last 3 days.  Because I love my dog to a crazy level, I got her three gallons, too.  You never know.

My friends and co-workers took different approaches to Water this month.  Alanna added water-pouches for her go-bag to up her water supply. These little pouches contain emergency purified water for immediate use. “They store easily and travel well in case you can’t stay in your location.”  She also pointed out that the plastic pouches can also double as ice packs when frozen.

Alexandra learns how to use bleach to make unpurified water safe to drink.
Alexandra learns how to use bleach to make unpurified water safe to drink.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, you can use bottled, boiled, or treated water.  Following the CDC tip sheet for making water safe, Joanne taught her kids how to add bleach to unpurified water to make it safe to use.  They stored the disinfected water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

If you already have your water supply, there are other water-based tasks you can do this month. My good friends Amie and Gary just moved into their new home in Minnesota.  In the winter, frozen pipes are a major concern, so they made sure to find and mark their main water valve in case a pipe bursts.  When water freezes in a pipe, it expands, and if it expands enough, the pipe bursts. The result is escaping water and serious damage. It is important to turn off the water at the main shut-off valve until repairs are completed.

What can you do this month to check water off your list?

  • Assemble your 3-day water supply.  Remember that you need 1 gallon a day for 3 days per person, plus an extra gallon for your pets.
  • Learn how to bottle your own water.   Freeze part of your water supply.  Added bonus: This will keep freezer foods cold for a longer time if there is a power outage.
  • Find and mark the main water valve where water comes into your house.

    In his crawlspace, Gary marks the main water valve to the house.
    In his crawlspace, Gary marks the main water valve to the house.
  • Find out how to get a safe supply of water from your water heater.
  • Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites.  Do you know how long to bring the water to a boil in order to kill most organisms?
  • Learn how to make water safer to drink by using a disinfectant, like bleach.

For more information, visit Do 1 Thing, CDC, and

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Page last reviewed: April 24, 2013
Page last updated: April 24, 2013