Water, Water, Everywhere?

Today, what if...

...A disaster collapsed the pipes bringing water to your town?
...The water supply in your area became undrinkable? (i.e., May, 2010 – Boston was under a 3-day "boil water" order)

How long would you and your family be able to survive?

Your physical survival depends upon:

  • STORE: How much drinkable water you have stored.
  • PURIFY: How much water you can purify to use as drinkable water.
  • SOURCE: How much water you can get (and purify) from other sources.

How to STORE drinkable water


  • Buy good bottled water in heavy jugs or fill from tap food-safe plastic containers w/screw lids.

  • Sanitize re-used containers first with 1 tsp. bleach in 1 qt. water. Shake jug, drain, and let dry 30 min.
  • Store out of direct sunlight and rotate yearly


Use plastic milk containers (too thin, get brittle)
  • Use a container that has ever contained a chemical
  • Use glass (too heavy, breakable)

How to PURIFY unsafe water

  1. Chemicals: Kills disease-causing organisms but not chemical pollutants, leaves sediment. Here are two options:

    • Water purification tablets (Aquamira - same as in municipal systems)
    • Use unscented bleach with no additives!
  2. Gravity Filtration: Removes contaminants and sediment. No chemicals used. Filtration takes more time and equipment than chemicals. Some filters remove viruses and bacteria, others don’t. Filters and containers must be cleaned and/or replaced regularly.

    Commercial Filters for Gravity Systems - Look for “NSF Certified” Filter recommended below will remove viruses, “bad” bacteria, foul tastes and odors, parasites, trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, harmful organic compounds, heavy metals, sediments, and cloudiness.
    • Black Berkey Water Filter – available as filter alone to use in homemade systems or in Berkey gravity water systems. Cleanable and useful for up to 3,000 gallons.
    • Website with instructions on how to make your own gravity system with a Black Berkey Filter: www.alpharubicon.com/kids/homemadeberkeydaire.htm
  3. Boiling: Boiling kills disease causing organisms, but will not remove many chemical pollutants. Boil at least 5 min.
  4. Ultraviolet Light: Kills bacteria and viruses but does not filter out sediment or chemicals. Best to use with pre-treat filter. See www.steripen.com for an example.

Water SOURCES in an emergency

  1. Water pipes in the house:
    • Turn off street supply (main valve)
    • Open tap at the highest location in house
    • Collect water at lowest tap in house
  2. Water heater (Here’s how: http://bit.ly/1jORon7 )
  3. Swimming pools (need to be treated and purified)
  4. Rain water (needs to be treated and purified)
    • Rain gutters from roof
    • plastic tarp placed over a hole or bucket
  5. Well Water (ground water) (needs to be treated and purified)
    • Hand pump required (electricity may not be available)
  6. Build a Solar Still (Here’s how: http://bit.ly/1ldjB6V )