National Preparedness Month logo
September 11, 2017

Join us for America’s PrepareAthon! This year was an important reminder to all of us that disasters can strike anytime and anyplace. Nearly every region of the country experienced some form of extreme weather event. As with many life events, preparation is the key to success.

When you prepare and practice for an emergency in advance, it makes a real difference in your ability to take immediate and informed action when it matters most. Early action can also help you to recover more quickly. Preparing for disasters is a year-round activity.

At Loudoun Water, residents are encouraged to take water-related preparations in the event of an emergency. Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Knowing how much water you need, how to properly store it, and how to take care of your home's main water valve is critical information. 
 

How much water do I need?

You should store at least one gallon of water per person for three days. A normally active person needs about three-quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
To determine your water needs, take the following into account:

  • One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.
  • Remember to store water for any pets in your household.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.

Preparing your own water storage containers

It is recommended you purchase food grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage.

Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

If you chose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.

How should I store water?

It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Store in cool, dark place.
 

  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. (Remember, water expands as it freezes, so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water).
  • Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out.
  • Fill your bathtub with water to use for toilet flushing in case water services are unavailable following the storm.

FAQ: Can I store water in plastic soda bottles

Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.

A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water, if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.

Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in cool, dark place.

Water can also be treated with water purification tablets that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.

Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.

Follow Loudoun Water on Facebook and Twitter to get more tips and reminders about how you can make your family’s emergency plan.