Preparing for a Drought - Water For Drinking
bleach bottled smell filter
Storing water should be a part of any emergency plan. If you live in a drought-prone area, or if a drought is predicted for your region, a large supply of clean, bottled water is essential. People need to drink about eight cups of water a day to remain healthy. That's about 1 quart (0.9 liter) of water per day per person. Try to keep enough bottled water on hand for everyone in your family for at least one to two weeks. (And don't forget your pets!) Remember, though, that bottled water—like any other bottled liquid—is usable for only a limited amount of time. If you buy bottled water, look on the bottles for a “use-by” date. Even if there is no drought, try to drink the water before this date. Unopened bottled water doesn't spoil, but the taste can change. If not properly stored in a dark, dry, cool place away from sunlight, household cleaners, and other chemicals, the plastic of the bottle can affect how the water tastes.
You don't have to buy the water you save for a drought emergency. You can bottle your own drinking water—right from your tap. It's best to save drinking water in thoroughly washed, clean plastic bottles, like soda bottles, that have caps you can screw on tightly. However, like store-bought water, your own bottled water should not be kept for more than six months.
Investing in a water purification system may also be of benefit in preparing for a drought. The type you use, such as one that attaches to your faucet or a whole-house water filter, depends on the type of contamination, such as salt, chemicals, or bacteria in your local water supply. Usually, a simple filter attached to your home's incoming water supply will filter out sediment. As a drought drags on, water levels drop. Whether you get water from a city/town water system or from your own well, as the water level falls, impurities become concentrated in the water. Common impurities that affect water during a drought are salt and silt. Find out if other impurities may exist in your water from your local county or state health department. Buy a water filter that will filter out these impurities. You'll then be able to safely use the water you have for a longer period of time.
Water also can be purified by boiling or by adding a bit of household bleach. These methods are recommended only for emergencies. It's not for long-term water purification. Suppose that during a drought you find that your water looks or smells strange. For example, your water may look brown and have sediment in it, or it may have an odor. You can first strain it through a clean cloth such as fine-meshed cheesecloth to remove silt and other large particles. Then boil it on the stove. Bring the water to a rolling boil for one full minute. A rolling boil is defined by the top of the water bubbling. Let the water cool before you drink it. Once it's cool, pour it back and forth from one glass to another. This adds oxygen to the water and makes it taste better.
Household bleach may be used in an emergency to purify water you suspect is contaminated. However, only do this with adult permission and supervision. Do not use scented bleach, color-safe bleach, or bleach with cleansers added. You will need to use an eyedropper to add the bleach to the water. Add sixteen drops of regular bleach to one gallon of water. Then stir the water and let it stand for thirty minutes. Smell the water. If it does not smell of bleach, you may add another sixteen drops to the gallon and let it stand for fifteen minutes. If it still does not have a slight bleach odor, it is best to start over with another gallon of water. The slight bleach smell is a sign that it is safe. Once the water has a slight bleach smell, stir it some more and let it stand until the smell is hardly noticeable. It is then safe to drink.
Water and Your Health
The human body is made up of about 75 percent water. By drinking up to ten glasses of water a day, the bodily systems, including digestion, metabolism, and absorption, can function properly. Water contains electrolytes, or salts (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate) that are vital to these systems. Electrolytes help cells successfully maintain and transmit impulses within themselves and to other cells. Water is lost from the body through perspiration, urination, and respiration. These processes cannot be stopped, but not replenishing the body with water results in the symptoms of dehydration: excessive thirst, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, dizziness/lightheadedness, infrequent urination, and weakness in the muscles. These are the result of the loss of electrolytes.