Food Storage Essentials: Food Storage Essentials: Tips, guidelines for safely storing water
Boiling is the safest way to disinfect water. FEMA and the Red Cross recommend boiling water for one minute. Because water boils at lower temperature with increasing altitudes, the CDC recommends boiling water for three minutes above 6,562 feet (2 kilometers), which adds a margin of safety.
If it is not possible to boil water, liquid household chlorine bleach (5.25-6 percent sodium chlorite) can be used to kill microorganisms. Add 16 drops or 1/8 teaspoon bleach to one gallon of water and allow to stand for 30 minutes before drinking. Water should smell slightly of bleach; if it does not, repeat the dose and allow water to stand an additional 15 minutes. If there is still no odor of bleach, water should be discarded and a new source of water found.
FEMA and the Red Cross say, "Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products (sold in camping or surplus stores) that do not contain 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used."
It is possible to buy a relatively inexpensive filter with holes the absolute size of 1 micron. (This means there are no holes any bigger than 1 micron.) This will filter out the giardia, crypotosporidium and amoebas. Water can then be treated with bleach to kill common enteric viruses.
Be sure to follow manufacturers instructions for changing filters on water filters and purifiers as they can become clogged and reintroduce bacteria into water.
Leslie Probert has a bachelor's degree in home economics from Brigham Young University. She has spoken to thousands of people on food storage, is co-author of "Emergency Food in a Nutshell" and and is a mother of three. Leslie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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