BoilingMany of us, especially those who have spent time the provinces, may remember our parents and grandparents boiling water for drinking. It's still the safest method of treating water but it does consume fuel. To boil water for drinking:
- Put some water in a pot or kettle. Make sure the water has been filtered of debris, sediment and has not been contaminated by chemicals.
- Boil the water until it's bubbling vigorously for one full minute.
- After boiling, let it cool before drinking.
Chlorination with household bleach
- Add approx. 2-4 drops of bleach per liter of water (approx. 16 drops per gallon).
- Stir and leave it for 30 minutes.
- The water should have a slight bleach smell after 30 minutes.
- If you don't smell any bleach, treat the water again and wait an additional 15 minutes.
- Do not use the water if it still doesn't smell of bleach after the second treatment.
Solar water disinfection (SODIS)Solar water disinfection, or SODIS is a new method that's starting to gain acceptance in tropical countries. It's simple, free and uses low-tech, easy-to-find materials. The World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and the Red Cross recommend the SODIS method for treating drinking water in developing countries.
Other water treatment methodsThere are many other methods you can use to create potable water for your family. However, they need more research, practice or require equipment or supplies that aren't so readily available.
- Iodine: See instructions on instructables.com. I haven't included this in the main section as there are some concerns about safe doses.
- Calcium Hypochlorite (used for treating swimming pool water).
- Distillation: How to distill clean drinking water in emergency.
- UV light sterilizer, like a SteriPEN.
- Water filter. There are many different brands and models with different capabilities so you'll need to look around for one that suits your needs.
Chemical contaminationMost of these methods work by killing disease-causing micro-organisms in the water. Unless you distill the water or use an appropriate filter, any chemical contaminants will remain in the water. It's therefore important to stay way from water that may have been fouled by dangerous chemicals. Continue Reading
[Drowning] is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in [American] children, ages 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents)—of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In some of those drownings, the adult will actually watch the child do it, having no idea it is happening. Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:Read the full article: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. Continue Reading
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
- Eyes closed
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Not using legs—vertical
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
- Trying to roll over on the back
- Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
- Design and building materials to be used
- Types of water tanks
- Placement of water runoff to avoid undermining foundations
- Dealing with water contamination from dead animals, organic decomposition and acid rain
- Water treatment and testing
Preventing mosquito infestationMosquito breeding and infestation is a major concern in tropical climates like the Philippines. Nonoy Oplas commented on our Prepare Manila Facebook group, "Some [Philippine] households use the basic tech--which are huge drums storing rain water. Problem is that after just a few days, mosquitoes invade these drums, and thousands of new mosquitoes will come out a few days after, and malaria, dengue, other mosquito-borne diseases can expand." The first-flush diverters, screens and gutter guards detailed in the document are supposed to help prevent mosquito infestation. Philippine versions are probably prone to mosquito breeding because they rarely use these additions. Also, local maintainers may lack basic education and housekeeping practices. In almost any city, town and village, I see many sources of standing water where people don't bother to clear up buckets and junk like tires, old plastic containers and boxes. According to my research, there are some simple practices for preventing mosquitoes from breeding:
- Emptying any water holding containers
- Regularly cleaning gutters
- Fitting rain heads, flap valves and mesh gutter guards
- Installing a first flush water diverter to help prevent particles, eggs and larvae from reaching the main system
- Using mesh screens and ensuring they're in good repair
- Using mosquito repellants such as citronella grass
How to apply the SODIS method to make safe drinking waterThe process uses sunlight to disinfect water stored in common PET bottles which are used for soft-drinks. It works because sunlight contains radiation that kills pathogens including bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause diarrhea.
- Collect some colorless, transparent PET soft-drink bottles that will contain no more than 2 liters of liquid. Choose bottles that have few surface scratches and blemishes. Remove any labels and wash well with clean water. Sunlight may not penetrate the water adequately if the bottles are too large or heavily scratched.
- Fill the bottle three-quarters full with the water to be disinfected, screw on the cap and shake well for 20 seconds. After shaking, fill the bottle with more water but leave a space at the top for air, then screw on the lid once again. This step oxygenates the water which helps speed up the disinfection process.
- Expose the bottle to sunlight. A good place is on a sloped surface facing the sun, like a corrugated iron sheet roof. The length of exposure depends on your weather conditions.
- Once treated, the water should be stored in and consumed directly from the bottles to avoid re-contaminating the water.
|Weather conditions||Minimum exposure duration|
|Sunny (less than 50% cloud cover)||6 hours|
|Cloudy (50-100% cloudy, with little or no rain)||2 days|
|Continuous rainfall||The SODIS method cannot be reliably used to disinfect water|
- The SODIS method kills pathogens in the water but does not remove toxic chemicals.
- Turbid (cloudy) water must first be filtered to remove the particles before being used to fill bottles.
- Old bottles that are scratched or discolored should be replaced.
- PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles should be used. The easiest way to find out if a bottle is made out of PET is to look for the recycling mark shown below. 1 is the resin identification code for PETE or PET.
Simple ways to safeguard your familyThere's no reason why your family should suffer from an outbreak of diarrhea.
- Stock up on Oral Rehydration Salts. These are available from Watsons and Mercury Drug for around Php10 to Php15 per sachet.
- Stock up on antidiarrheal medications like Diatabs (Loperamide) which are less than Php30 for four capsules.
- Make sure you have access to clean water for drinking and washing.
- Eat cooked food or food washed well in clean water.
- As much as possible, continue with your usual sanitation habits.
Household alternativesIf you don't have any commercially produced ORS at home, rehydrate.org suggests the following alternatives:
- Gruels (diluted mixtures of cooked cereals and water)
- Carrot Soup
- Rice water (congee)
- Fresh fruit juice
- Weak tea
- Green coconut water (buko juice)
- A home-made solution of salt, sugar and if possible, orange juice or mashed banana (see link for recipe and instructions)
- CDC Guidelines for the Management of Acute Diarrhea After a Disaster
- Treat your child's diarrhea at home from rehydrate.org (document download)
- Home made Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) Recipe from rehydrate.org
- An Efficient, Inexpensive, Clean Delivery System from rehydrate.org (document download)
- Preventing Waterborne Illness
Note: be sure to store as much of your water as possible at floor level. If stored high up, such as on shelving, movement during an earthquake could cause them to fall. This not only risks injuring someone but also means you lose some of your water reserves. Continue Reading