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5 Gallon emergency water supply

So I have a couple of 5 gallon Igloo beverage coolers I'd like to turn into emergency water supply. My memory is fuzzy. I think you're supposed to put a couple of drops of bleach in? Anyone know the rule of thumb on how long you can store it before you have to dump it out and replace it and how much bleach per gallon you need to put in?

~TDQ

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  1. When we had the water boil alert here in Portland last month, the water bureau said that instead of boiling, you could use ⅛ tsp. of bleach per gallon, then let the water rest for 30 mins. before drinking.

    4 Replies
    1. re: RelishPDX

      Interesting, thank you. I think you're also supposed to put bleach in it if you're going to store it for any length of time so nothing grows in it, but maybe you just use the bleach before you're ready to drink it? Or maybe you do both?

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Lots of detail here:

        http://www.ready.gov/water

        I've lived in earthquake country all of my life, so I've always had water stored. 2L soda bottles are the easiest vessel for me to use currently. I've always dumped or used the water and replaced it every six months.

          1. re: RelishPDX

            Yes. Replenish the water every 6-12 months. We use for watering plants/garden, washing dishes, cooking, or bathing. Air-dry the containers, and then refill with filtered tap water (if we have time for filtering). Nice to have on hand if there's no rain for several weeks...

      2. I haven't stored bottled water since one of the bottles broke and flooded the cupboard... but I live in Florida so we have pre-warning of most natural disasters that might demand water storage. I have two big (empty) water containers that I've filled when there was a storm warning just in case... tap water goes really funky if you store it for more than a few days, and the bleach is supposed to prevent the funk. Sorry, I can't remember how much to use either...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kajikit

          We do have a little time to prepare for a tornado (if it's a tornado warning or watch), though not long for a warning. And it seems so unlikely in the event of a watch. Maybe I just buy several of these (or similar) 2.5 gallon containers and call it a day? They have a nice spigot and a handle.

          http://www2.costco.com/Browse/Product...

          Then I don't have to worry about anything other than finding a place to put it and paying attention to the expiration date.

          Maybe it's just not worth bothering with the 5 gallon containers. I suppose I could fill them up at the last minute if I thought a tornado was truly imminent, but at that point I think I'd rather be hunkering down with my family and trying to keep everyone calm rather than trying to fill up water containers.

          ~TDQ

        2. DQ, if a tornado hits St. Paul and your home is damaged, you won't need to worry about drinking water. There will be so much help that you won't believe it. When the two tornadoes hit Pilger, Nebraska last week, there were busloads of volunteers, the Red Cross, and the National Guard on the scene.

          I know it's good to be prepared but you might be over thinking this a bit. (Please don't get too annoyed at me.)

          If you wish to have water on hand, you could buy several gallon jugs of water that are sealed without worring about storing water in an Igloo container that could get contaminated over time.

          22 Replies
          1. re: John E.

            That's a good point - tornados are very localized, so help is going to arrive fairly quickly. I'd see storing drinking water as important for the kind of disaster that strikes over a large area and will immobilize or strain rescue efforts, like typhoons, earthquakes or ice storms.

            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

              Funny you should mention ice storms--I was going to say that during the 10 years I've lived in MN, the closest I've ever come to wanting an emergency kit is during a big snow storm last year (2013) where the plows didn't come for several days and we were pretty much housebound. It was hardly an emergency, but it was very difficult to leave the house even to get a gallon of milk, so we didn't. We were glad to have our "emergency" food (or, just a well-stocked pantry, really, although we were grateful to have shelf stable milk and powdered milk on hand for our toddler) to dip into. But, we had electricity and running water, so a back up water supply would have been pointless.

              But, we do often have big storms (this time of year) where the power goes out and you might be without electricity for a few days. Again, running water, no problem. Gas stove, no problem. But, fridge: problem.

              I'm not even sure we have ice storms in MN. But, does the power go out? In which case, how would you keep your water in the gallon jugs from freezing?

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                How many times has the temp. in your home fallen below 32°F for an extended period of time? There's a lot of residual heat in the walls, furniture, everything, which keeps the home warmish, even if you've no heat.

                If you've got a big hole in the roof or a wall, you've got bigger problems.

                1. re: RelishPDX

                  OK, I'll cross that off my list of things to worry about then. :) Thank you.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: RelishPDX

                    As a licensed plumber we tell people to leave a couple of faucets dripping , when the temperature is below 32 for a protracted period of time in the structure and there is no heat. Nothing worse than when the heat comes back on and the frozen pipes that might have ruptured, thaw out and start leaking...

                    1. re: PHREDDY

                      Yes, we also keep the cabinet doors open beneath sinks, so that the air circulates. As long as the interior of the home is above freezing, the convection effect of circulating warm air is supposed to help keep interior pipes from freezing (so I'm told).

                      1. re: PHREDDY

                        I hope I never need to follow that advice, but I am glad to have it, thank you!

                        ~TDQ

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      There have been ice storms, but I do not recall any severe ice storms in recent years. You are correct when you say that losing electricity is the biggest problem with a bad ice storm. I think you live in an area with overhead powerlines. What is the longest you have been without electricity because of downed powerlines? An emergency generator might not be a bad idea if it was more than a couple of days.

                      1. re: John E.

                        Honestly, it's probably never been more than a day, maybe two, even though I've heard of people in my neighborhood having to go without power for up to 3 days.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Having lived through a couple of extended freezes, and 3 days without power once (in Oregon), the biggest problem you'll ever probably face in sub-freezing weather, if your home is whole, is freezing pipes. If one of the main ones go, you've got major problems.

                          You do what you can to keep your home oops-proof, prep a good e-kit usable for any type of disruption, then hope for the best. It really isn't a major deal. Lots of good info out there by just googling for emergency preparedness tips.

                          1. re: RelishPDX

                            Gah. That would be awful, if the pipes froze. But hard to imagine (or worry too much about) in June! HA! Thanks for sharing some of your personal experience. I appreciate it.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Just one more idea...

                              If you are worried about freezing pipes, a kerosine heater in the basement will keep the pipes from freezing.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Hey, good idea. I'll look into that, thank you!

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: John E.

                                  A kerosene heater in the basement may keep you pipes from freezing, BUT in many jurisdictions Kerosene heaters are illegal and besides risking a fine, if you have a fire that was caused by your illegal kerosene heater (accidental or otherwise) your insurance carried can deny coverage.

                                  Back in the 80s Ker-o-sun was a big name in heaters in this area. Town by town they were made illegal by municipal ordinance due to fire hazard.

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    Back in the late 70s when natural gas spiked and we had a severe winter, and the winds out of the north blowing off the lake, the kerosine heater in the family room kitchen area really took the chill off. This was small town Minnesota so there were no ordinances against them. I wonder if there is such ann ordinance in St. Paul? Franky, the only reason I can see such a heater to be a fire hazard is if something flammable is too close to the radiant part of the heater.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      If not operated according to instructions, kerosene heaters pose a carbon monoxide risk.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        You are correct. We never had a problem however.

                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I know there have been times in summer storms when a lot of trees have gone down and took powerlines with them that areas have lost power for a week or more. I think it's been several years since that happened. As I recall, it was in the western suburbs.

                              We too have a large enough pantry and food in the freezer, so three days of food is not a problem. We have no water backup, but I'm not too concerned about it.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Well, I just padded my pantry and my medicine chest a little more (we've already got first aid kits), and purchased 5 gallons of water, so I think I'll stop worrying now.

                                ~TDQ

                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Went without power in the great state of dreary Washington for 11 days in below freezing temps, with icicles outside the windows.
                                The pipes were wrapped and the inside of the home had to be continually heated with the fireplace so someone had to be sure the fire didn't go out.
                                It's awful.
                                I'd never live in that environment again and now I have 5 gallon water bottles delivered for daily consumption and leave it to Arrowhead to make sure my water is healthy if anything happens.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  Gah! Sounds dreadful. I'm so sorry that happened to you! Great thinking on the bottled water!

                                  ~TDQ

                        2. re: John E.

                          I'm not annoyed. :) I didn't grow up in tornado country, so I don't have a lot of personal experience. I appreciate your input. I went to the city of St. Paul's website and followed the links (the few that weren't broken) they provide for emergency preparedness and they were all the standard recommendations re: 3 days of food and water.

                          I think I'm going to buy a couple of those gallon jugs of water as you say. It's cheap and not really that difficult to do. I know a person can survive without food for several days, but not without water. (Recalling Buck Helm, the gentlemen they pulled out of his car on the collapsed freeway four days after the '89 earthquake. He eventually succumbed to his injuries and they were dehydration related.

                          Nevertheless, I've yet to visualize a scenario in MN where an emergency water supply would seem helpful. Even when we had that tornado in the metro area --North Minneapolis in 2011-- and a whole section of town in a major metro area was affected, it seemed like help arrived pretty quickly.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. For posterity, I'm linking to chartreauxx's excellent tips regarding emergency water supplies from another thread.

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8897...

                            ~TDQ