Prepare Your Home For Emergencies
Locate your master water supply valve and tag it so that you can find it quickly in case of emergency. Show family members where it is located so that everyone will be able to find it when they need to. Wind, rains, snowstorms, and power outages can cause a drinking water emergency or interrupt your water service.
When Cold Weather Comes
- Wrap exposed pipes. This doesn't waste water, and leaving faucets running is not a guarantee that pipes won't freeze.
- Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas in the home also, not just outside. Examples are crawl spaces under the house, or unheated garages. Hardware stores will have materials available.
- Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses, allowing water to drain from the pipe. Otherwise, one good overnight freeze can burst a faucet or the pipe it is connected to. Remember to wrap and cover outdoor faucets.
- Seal off air vents, cracks, and access doors. Repair broken basement windows. Winter wind and cold coming through openings can quickly freeze exposed pipes. (Do not plug air vents for furnaces or water heaters!)
Store water for an emergency. Keep 1 gallon per person, per day. Use containers with tight-fitting screw-cap lids. If water is not chlorinated, add 8 drops (or 1/8 tsp) of household (unscented) bleach to a gallon and let sit at least 30 minutes before use. Throw out and replace every 6 months.
Keep purifying supplies on hand:
- Bleach solution
- Medicine droppers / measure spoons
- Equipment for boiling water (usual energy sources - gas or electricity - may not be available in emergency)
If you are told to boil water, heat water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. This is sufficient to kill organisms that can cause diseases, and conserve fuel, which can be in short supply in emergencies.
Make sure you use proper containers for water storage, such as plastic or glass containers previously used for juice, bottled water, or soda. (Plastic milk jugs are not preferred, as they do not have a tight-seal cap.) Wash containers thoroughly before use. Do not use containers that previously held chemicals, pesticides, solvents, oil, antifreeze, poisons, etc.!
Conserve Water During Emergencies
Use your stored water supply wisely. Keep enough for each person for at least 3 days. This includes water for cooking, brushing teeth, and washing as well as for drinking.
Even after a power outage or weather emergency, you may experience low or no water pressure. Keep in mind that your water provider will work as quickly as possible to return normal service. In case of emergencies, tune in to local radio or TV stations. They will give you important information and tips, and will notify customers of the drinking water status in their area.
For more information that can help you in an emergency, visit any of the following websites: