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Would Your Family Have Drinking Water in an Emergency?

September is National Preparedness Month, established by FEMA as a reminder that families should be prepared in case of a natural disaster or other unexpected event. Since our expertise is fixing plumbing problems, we’d like to tell you how to get safe drinking water if your plumbing system fails in extreme weather or any other emergency situation.

During single-digit temps, strong storms or flooding, pipes can crack and allow drinking water to become contaminated. If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, you will need to turn off the water at the main valve. To be prepared, locate your shut-off valve for the water line now, which is usually in the basement or not far from the water heater, and label it for easy identification later.

Another way to prepare for a plumbing emergency is to have a stock of drinking water on hand at all times — at least 3 gallons per person in your household. If you don’t have enough notice to buy water, keep reading.

What Are Some Sources of Clean Water In Our Home?

If you find yourself in an emergency and don’t have a stash of drinking water, here’s what you can safely drink to stay hydrated:

  • Melted ice cubes.
  • Liquids from canned goods such as fruit. Steer clear of vegetables and soups if you don’t have much water around, as these contain a lot of sodium which can dehydrate you.
  • If faucets are running but you are suspicious of broken pipes or a contaminated water system, boil water.
  • Drain water from the water heater. Turn off the electricity or gas, 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 clean water in your home’s plumbing system has been restored, be sure to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on.

Why Do We Boil Water, and Can it Taste Any Better?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), says boiling water is the best method to kill disease-causing organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites that have entered pipes due to a break. Since boiling water can make it taste flat, some prefer to add a pinch of salt or to pour it from one container to another and then let it to stand for a few hours. For more information on boiling, visit the CDC website.

What Sources of Water Can Be Dangerous?

While your family is discussing how to get a drink of water in an emergency, make sure they know about unsafe sources including:

  • Radiators
  • Hot water boilers.
  • Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank.
  • Swimming pools, since chemicals in them are too concentrated for safe drinking.
  • Water beds, since they can contain harmful fungus.

If You Have Any Questions About Safe Drinking Water, Call Putman Plumbing!

Hopefully we won’t have any unexpected disasters any time soon (or ever), but if you are uneasy about your knowledge of safe water just in case, give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.