Safe Drinking Water After a Flood

Safe Drinking Water After a Floodmissouri-department-of-health-and-senior-services-squarelogo-1427093230686.png

How does water become contaminated in a flood?

  • After a flood, assume that all water sources are contaminated until proven safe.

  • Contaminated water can cause people to become sick.

How will I know if my water has been contaminated?

  • Do not use water that has a dark color, has a smell, is cloudy, or contains floating material.

  • There will be a public announcement over radio or television to boil the water. This is known as a "boil order."

How do I purify my water?

  • Water can be purified at home or safe water can be purchased.
  • Water may either be boiled or regular household bleach may be added, such as Clorox or Purex brands or any store brand.
  • To boil, bring water to a rolling boil and keep it boiling for approximately 3 minutes. Pour water into disinfected drinking container (instructions for disinfecting containers provided below). Store in refrigerator if possible.
  • To use household bleach, strain the water through a coffee filter or cheese cloth to remove dirt and other particles. Use 1/8 teaspoon (or 6-8 drops from a dropper) of regular household bleach per gallon and let the water stand another 30 minutes.
  • Do not use more than the recommended amount of bleach. Large amounts can be poisonous.

What are the best types of containers to use to store water?

  • Use clean plastic or glass containers such as clean soft drink bottles or clean canning jars that have tight-fitting screw caps. Do not use plastic milk jugs because they do not seal well.
  • Use clean disinfected containers only. Remember to disinfect them again each time they are refilled.

How do I disinfect containers to use for storing drinking water?

  • Fill container with one gallon of clean water.
  • Add one tablespoon of regular household bleach to the water in the container. (Let stand for 10 minutes, then pour out). Rinse the container with clean water.
  • Fill the container again with clean water, then cap the container for later use.
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