Disasters can strike at any time, often making the things we take for granted inaccessible, like readily available & clean water. Water always becomes the number one priority in an emergency, followed by food and shelter. Everyone should prepare for disasters by keeping an emergency supply of water in their homes and by knowing how to properly sanitize contaminated water. These simple actions can mean the difference between life and death.
Disinfecting contaminated water
There are many scenarios in which you may have to resort to sanitizing water to make it consumable or suitable for cooking, hygiene, or medical purposes. Your home water supply could be unavailable for an extended period of time or become contaminated. You may have to leave your home if it becomes compromised during a flood or other natural disaster and need to find water elsewhere. You may be stranded in the wilderness without access to clean water. Whatever the case, if potable water is not available, there are several steps you can take to prepare water so it is suitable for consumption:
1. Filter the dirty water to remove debris and particles. You can use one of the simple DIY water filter methods shown below, or you can run the water through a clean cloth until it is as clear as you can get it.
2. Boil the water, if possible, to kill bacteria and other harmful organisms that may be present.
3. If you can’t boil the water, disinfect it using household bleach or water purification tablets. If bleach is used, you will need about 8 drops for each gallon of water. Stir the bleach into the water and let it sit for 30 minutes before you use it. If using water purification tablets, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can buy emergency water filters relatively inexpensively, but it is still a good idea to keep bleach and purification tablets on hand as part of an emergency kit. A homemade water filter can also be a useful part of any emergency kit as a primary or backup filter.
Below are two examples of how to make your own emergency water filters using materials that can usually be found around the house.
This first idea is great because it is pocket-sized and you can store water purification tablets right inside the container. Because this filter is so portable and cheap to make, it would be a good thing to make several of to keep in various places, such as in an emergency kit, in your vehicle, and in with camping gear or a bug-out bag.
This second example is a filter made with materials found around the house and outdoors, which makes this version good for situations where you may not have your emergency gear accessible.
Note: Water filtered using these methods is not always suitable for consumption. The filters remove a large amount of the particles from the water, but it will still need to be boiled or sanitized to eliminate the harmful microscopic organisms.