With all the talk of emergency preparedness, you have been told to store water and have some available for several days. How are you going to do this? What do I store it in? Is it good forever if I store it?

Standard emergency guidelines suggest that a person store 1 gallon of water per person per day in your household for 3 day to 2 week period of time. A person normally needs to drink at least 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) of water each day to maintain proper hydration. Children, nursing mothers, and ill persons may need more. So the formula would be (number of days of water needed) x (number of persons in your home) = gallons to store.

Bottled water is an option if you don’t want to prepare your own storage supply. Most stores have bottled water in one gallon containers. This can be stored for a year if left in the original container and left unopened.

Another method is to prepare your own, especially if it comes from city water or is known to be uncontaminated. One can store it in clean soda bottles from dark colored colas or containers that have a snug, tight fitting lid. They do not recommend using milk jugs as the lids are difficult to make tight. Be sure to wash these containers with warm, soapy water. Sanitize the container by putting a teaspoon of household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent of sodium hypochlorite in one gallon of water. Leave in the container for 2 minutes and then rinse well. Do not use scented, color-safe bleaches that also may have added cleaners.

Fill the container directly from the faucet and cap tightly. Label each container with “Purified Drinking Water” and the date stored. These containers can be stored for six (6) months in a cool, dark, and dry place. If not used in that time, repeat the procedure. You may add bleach (the kind with sodium hypochlorite as only active ingredient) as a preservative to the water you are storing. Use the following process or rule of thumb to know what to add: 1 Qt of water—- 1/16 tsp of bleach; ½ gallon (2 Liters) — 1/8 tsp of bleach; 1 gallon of water —- ¼ tsp of bleach.

It is important to make sure you are also getting water from a safe source. In the event of a natural disaster, it is possible for local water supplies to be contaminated so you need to be prepared to take precautions by purifying the water if needed. Water would need to be boiled for at least 10 minutes once brought to a rolling boil. Be sure to use clean utensils to boil the water in. If the water doesn’t look clear, let it settle and then you may need to filter it as well. If any uncertainty, do NOT drink because you may not know what is there.

So take the time to ready for any type of emergency and start storing water at this time using the information provided above. If you have questions regarding the information, you may contact Winneshiek County Public Health at 563-382-4662 or go to our website at www.winneshiekhealth.org .