On January 9, 2014, a State of Emergency was declared in nine counties of West Virginia after 7,500 gallons of a coal-processing chemical leaked into the Elk River just upstream from the regional drinking-water intake. 300,000 people — including many members of the HHQI National Campaign team and participating home health agencies and their patients — were unable to use their tap water for anything other than flushing toilets. It quickly became difficult to find bottled water at retailers throughout the area, and thousands stood in long lines at emergency water distribution sites. After five days, the “do not use” orders began to lift by zone as the chemical washed downstream, but even now, eight days later, tens of thousands are still waiting for the “all clear” message.
While it has been a distressing situation for everyone affected, it’s been especially difficult for those who are unable to leave their homes. Volunteers and Kanawha County Ambulance Authority workers organized to deliver water to many homebound citizens in the area, but the importance of having your own supply of clean water in case of an emergency (storms, power outages, etc.) is now very apparent, so we wanted to share these tips with you for yourselves and the patients you care for.
How Much to Store
You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one gallon of water daily just for drinking however individual needs vary, depending on age, 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.
- 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.
How to Store
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.
You can also purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores or reuse plastic soda bottles to store water. Visit Ready.gov for additional information on how to safely store water that has not been commercially bottled.
To download the 16-page “Food and Water in an Emergency” booklet from FEMA and the American Red Cross, click here.
Are you prepared for a water emergency? Please comment below.