How To Obtain Drinkable Water!
By Albert Burns
Water!  Without it, you will die in three or four days.  Unfortunately, with it, if it is contaminated with chemicals or germs, you might die even faster.  As Coleridge put it in his Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”  His mariner was on the sea, surrounded by water, all of it undrinkable.  Sometimes, on land, the situation can be just as dire.  Most of the world’s deadliest diseases are waterborne.  Dysentery, typhus, cholera are all spread by contaminated water and are the causes of more human deaths than virtually any other cause, as I fear we may soon see in south east Asia..
    Where and how, then, do we get water which is safe to drink?  As mentioned previously, as a rule of thumb you will need to have one gallon, per person, per day for drinking purposes only.!   This is for drinking ONLY and does not include water for cooking, bathing, waste handling or for pets.  For each dog, you need another gallon per day and for a cat about a pint a day.
    For those who have made NO preparations at all at the time a disaster strikes, there are still a few sources.  If you think of it in time, the upper tank on each toilet holds several gallons of water which can be dipped out and drunk.  Your hot water heater, depending upon its size, will have thirty to fifty gallons of water which you can drain off through the clean out tap at the bottom.  The ice cubes in your refrigerator are water which is available.  Depending upon your home, you may be able to drain back the water from all the pipes in the house to obtain more gallons of drinking water.
    What to do if you have used up the water from these safe sources?  Especially in a time of disaster, consider that ANY water! not stored or purchased is contaminated.  Even a crystal clear stream may be deadly.
    If the water you locate is murky or cloudy, first strain the dirt our with several layers of paper towel, clean cloth or coffee filters.  Then purify it with one of the following methods.
    BOILING: This is generally the safest method to destroy any disease organisms.  Bring the water to a rolling boil and maintain the boil for a minimum of ten minutes plus one added minute for each 1000 feet above sea level.   After purifying water in this manner, be sure to keep it covered to prevent re-contamination.  Unfortunately, this method presupposes having a means and a container to do the boiling and uses considerable fuel which may not be available after a disaster.
    LIQUID CHLORINE BLEACH: Be sure the bleach you have on hand for this purpose contains ONLY sodium hypochlorite (5.25% solution) with no soap, phosphates, scents, etc.  For one gallon of clear water, add 8 drops (1/8 tsp) of bleach.  To five gallons of clear water add 32 drops (1/2 tsp.)  If the water is cloudy, double these amounts.  Use this eye dropper or spoon for nothing else.  At the time the bleach is purchased, it should be dated.  Bleach which is over a year old has lost about half its strength so the quantities you use would have to be doubled.  After adding the bleach to the water, mix well and allow to stand for thirty minutes before using.
    IODINE: If there are no directions on the iodine bottle, use 12 drops to the gallon of water.  If the water is cloudy, double that quantity.  Again, mix well and allow to stand for thirty minutes.
    Both chlorine and iodine will impart a taste to the water.  Pouring the water from one container to another several times will help dissipate some of that taste by re-oxygenating ! the water.  If you have some Tang or Kool-Aid they will help disguise these tastes for children.
    Another possibility is to have on hand some form of water filter to use in treating any water you intend to drink.  Such a filter must not only remove any chemical contamination but also be able to kill any disease organisms.  Such filters are, normally, available at such stores as Emergency Essentials or Out-N-Back.  Katadyn is one of the better known brands.  These filters are made in various sizes and output capacities.  Some are small enough to be carried in a backpack.  It would be advisable to have several of these on hand.  The demand for these is beginning to rise because of increasing public awareness of the terrorism problem so you may have to look for them in several places or, even, place an order and wait for delivery.
    In some areas there may be free-flowing wells.  Ask around to se! e if you can find out where one or more of these may be located.  Water from one of these MIGHT be safe, but to be sure, under disaster conditions it should be treated as above.
    Freshly falling rainwater can be drunk if it is caught in a clean container before it touches any other surface.  After it touches some other surface, it must be considered contaminated.
    Freshly fallen snow may be drinkable without treatment but it must be melted and warmed before ingesting it.  Old snow and ice will almost certainly contain bacteria and will need to be treated before using.
    You are the best container.  Store as much water as possible in your stomach.  In any emergency situation, you must always ask yourself this question: “Am I willing to risk my life on this drink of water?”