September is National Preparedness Month, established by FEMA as a reminder that families should have a plan in case of a natural disaster or other unexpected event. Considering the recent outbreaks of hurricanes in the Atlantic, it’s a good idea to discuss how your household would handle such a disaster if it happens in Frederick County. Since our expertise is fixing plumbing problems, we’d like to tell you how to get safe drinking water if your plumbing system fails.
How to Handle Plumbing Problems in a Natural Disaster
During hurricanes or flooding, plumbing pipes can get cracked causing drinking water to become contaminated. If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, you will need to know how to turn off the water at the main valve. So this is a good time to locate your shut-off valve for the water line — usually in the basement or not far from the water heater. Label this valve now for easy identification.
If you have enough notice that a large storm is coming, you should stock up on drinking water — at least 3 gallons per person in your household. If you don’t have enough notice to buy water, keep reading.
Sources of Clean Water Already in Your Home
Here’s what you can safely drink to stay hydrated in an emergency:
- Melted ice cubes.
- Liquids from canned goods such as fruit. Be careful with vegetables and soups, as these contain a lot of sodium which can dehydrate you.
- Boiled water, if faucets are running. (see information below about boiling water).
- Water drained from the water heater. To do this safely, turn off the electricity or gas, then open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Turn off the water intake valve at the tank and turn on the hot-water faucet to get water flowing. After you hear that clean water has been restored, you’ll need to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on.
The Importance of Boiling Water, And How to Improve Its Taste
According to the CDC, boiling is the surest method to kill disease-causing organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Since boiling water can make it taste flat, some prefer to pouring it from one container to another and then let it to stand for a few hours, OR add a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of boiled water. For more information on boiling, visit the CDC website.
Dangerous Sources of Water in the Home
While you’re discussing with your family how you will find drinking water in an emergency, make sure to mention the unsafe sources including:
- Hot water boilers.
- Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank.
- Water beds. Fungicides added to the water or chemicals in the vinyl may make water unsafe to drink.
- Swimming pools, since chemicals in them are too concentrated for safe drinking.
Call Putman Plumbing if You Have Any Questions About Safe Drinking Water
Hopefully we won’t have any hurricanes or flooding problems anytime soon (or in the distant future). If you are uneasy about your knowledge of safe water, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.