March, 2010

FEMA’s 5 Essentials for Water in an Emergency/Disaster

1. Allow people to drink according to their needs. Many people need even more than the average of one-half gallon, per day. The individual amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition, and time of year.

2. Never ration water unless ordered to do so by authorities. Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Under no circumstances should a person drink less than one quart (four cups) of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

3. Drink water that you know is not contaminated first. If necessary, suspicious water, such as cloudy water from regular faucets or water from streams or ponds, can be used after it has been treated. If water treatment is not possible, put off drinking suspicious water as long as possible, but do not become dehydrated.

4. Do not drink carbonated beverages instead of drinking water. Carbonated beverages do not meet drinking-water requirements. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

5. Turn off the main water valves. You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and other family members know how to perform this important procedure.

◦ To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.

◦ To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.

Source: www.FEMA.gov

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Are You Prepared?

Earlier today I was on the www.fema.gov website. There continues to be a growing concern in the U.S. about what is happening with the economy, natural disasters, and world events, including terrorism. I noticed the website had a map listing out the recently declared disaster areas in America. Most of those listed, whether it was in North Dakota or Texas, I was not familiar with. Are you?

Families and businesses are beginning to wake up to the importance of being prepared for potential situations, which will lend them powerless and unable to secure their long-term food, and water needs. Most people are vulnerable to outside influences and have not made an investment in preparing for a disaster. Given that no amount of money can keep someone alive in a crisis, long term water and food storage may be the most important investment we can make.

The food and water systems we have created in our local communities are designed to support our basic day-to-day needs. It is estimated there is less than a three-week supply of food in the national food distribution network. Grocery stores keep about a one-week supply of food in their stores. Most households have even less food readily available. A serious emergency could easily cause breakdowns in the supply of essential goods and services. The non-existent food reserves coupled with a water supply that could get easily contaminated would spell disaster for millions. Are you prepared?

Most survival experts suggest a minimum three-month supply of storable food and water per person. A wise person once said it is better to buy two years early rather than a day late. Still undecided? Personally, I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. How about you? There are a variety of people readily available to lend you assistance. Contact us at www.marksbarrelcompany.com and let us help.

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Water Storage

“NEXT TO AIR, WATER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT FOR LIFE. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE ENOUGH ON HAND.”

The new millennium has come with a fierceness we have not seen, perhaps ever.  The last decade of disasters, including a tsunami, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and floods, have woke many of us up to this simple fact: WATER is a critical component of preparedness for any emergency situation.  Clean water is essential for emergency medical treatments, drinking, food preparation, and sanitation.  Government agencies (FEMA, USGS, OES, etc.) and relief agencies such as the Red Cross, have elevated recommendations for preparedness from the traditional “three days of self-sufficiency” to “five to seven days minimum and seven to fourteen days recommended” in recently published planning scenarios.

Why is water a key in these recommendations?  Experts indicate that some aqueducts and reservoirs may be inoperative for up to 3-6 months, and the piping systems required to distribute the water to homes and businesses could also be severely disrupted for long periods of time.  An all too painful reminder: The fall 2009 Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (RIPA) meeting was held in New Orleans.  I toured the NOLA community to discover it is still reeling five years after hurricane Katrina brought it to its knees.

Definitive care specialists have shown the importance of water on our wellbeing.  A loss of only 5-10% of a person’s body fluids can result in moderate shock that may become life threatening if left untreated.  The simple fact is that human body can not survive even one week without water.  In general terms, the body requires four times as much water as food.  For persons trying to respond to or recover from an emergency, body fluid loss can occur rather quickly depending on temperature, activity level, emotional state, and/or possible injuries.  A basic treatment for shock is to maintain body temperature and to give fluids, especially water.

It is important that an adequate supply of water be properly stored BEFORE an emergency so it is readily available without the need for filtration, boiling, or treatment.  Keep water stored for emergencies free from bacterial growth and other contaminants.  A recent Utah State University study showed much of the water they tested that was stored contained bacteria, 11% contained E-Coli.  They make two key recommendations: store the water below 21 degrees C and that all stored water have chlorine bleach added (16 drops per gallon – 3 tablespoons per 55 gallon drum) to ensure safety for emergency use.  In short, treat water with a preserver prior to storage or empty and replace regularly with fresh, clean water.  Store in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight.

Ideally, water should be stored in three forms: 1) In portable containers, suitable for dispensing, for personal drinking, food preparation and sanitation.  2) In large volume drums or containers with a dispensing pump for all uses.  3) In small portable containers or medical or first-aid use as needed.  The best material for 2.5 to 55 gallon water storage containers is food grade polyethylene that meet the US Department of Transportation (DOT) specifications.  While the containers may have components made from other materials, only polyethylene touches the water.  On smaller, pre-filled, packages, look for products with “sterile” packaging and a minimum 5 year shelf life.

The easiest way to store the bulk of your water is in 55 gallon polyethylene (plastic) water drums (Food and Drug Administration, FDA, approved for storing drinking water).  The drums available at MBC are the best industry has to offer and are designed to have weight stacked on them when filled with water.  This allows one to stack your food on them, thus saving space while keeping your food and water together.  Some survival experts recommend two 55 gallon drums of water per person.  This, along with collecting “rain water”, should be suitable.  When you consider most households use in excess of 100 gallons of water per day for drinking, bathing, laundry, dishes, sanitation, etc., this isn’t a lot of water.

Water that we take for granted when things are normal, become absolutely essential for life and a vital resource in any disaster.  The lessons we have learned this past decade have taught us if we take our water supply for granted, we will regret it.

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Frequently Asked Questions On Water Storage

Question: How much water should I store?
Answer: Water is your most important supply during an emergency. The amount of water a person needs will depend upon age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. One gallon per person, per day for drinking, food preparation and hygiene should be stored with your emergency supplies. For example, a minimum of 56 gallons of water should be stored for a family of four for two weeks.

A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need even more.

Question: Can water be rationed if supplies are low?
Answer: Never ration water. If supplies run low, drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

Try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don’t stock salty foods, since they make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.

Question: Does our hot climate mean I should store more water?
Answer: A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day; however, hot environments can double the amount of water required. Reduce your activity and stay as cool as possible to minimize the amount of water needed to stay hydrated.

Question: What is the best way to store water?
Answer: If possible, purchase bottled water and keep it sealed until ready to use. You can also store water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances.

Plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can purchase food-grade (FDA) plastic buckets or 55 gallon drums from MBC Inc. Seal water containers tightly, label them and store in a cool, dark place. Rotate water based on expiration dates on bottles or every six months.

Question: What can I do to improve the taste of stored or boiled water?
Answer: Stored or boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two containers.

Question: What if we run out of water?
Answer: There are hidden sources of water in your home. You can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes, and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).

How to use water in your pipes: Shut water off to your house. Let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from a faucet located at the lowest point in the house.

How to use hot-water tank water: Be sure the electricity or gas is off before draining the hot-water tank. Open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.

Be sure to purify water from outside natural sources before drinking it. Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. You should not drink floodwater.

When should the water into the home be shut off?

If you hear reports of broken water lines or sewage leaks turn off the incoming water valve to prevent contaminating the water in your pipes and hot-water tank.

When does water need to be purified?

Water of uncertain purity should be purified before using it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene. Contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

How do I purify water?

There are several ways to purify water and none of them are perfect. The best solution is to use a combination of purifying methods. Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.

1. Boiling – Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for one minute. Some water will evaporate. Let water cool before drinking.

Boiling water will kill most microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.

2. Disinfection – Chlorine water purifying tablets or household liquid bleach will kill most microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.
Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

Is there really an expiration date on water?

Studies show sterilized or disinfected water, stored in clean, food-approved containers with secure lids or caps should be safe for use even after many years of storage. Replacement of stored water with fresh water should be necessary only if the stored water becomes contaminated in some way or if the container should begin to leak. Be certain to label each container so there will be no question about its contents. Include the date and information on the method of disinfection used. We recommend changing properly stored water every three to five years.

How much food and water is enough?

Make sure you are “prepared” for any emergency and be able to provide essential food and water for you and your family to survive. We suggest at least a three month supply of storable food per person, and two 55 gallon drums of water per person. Remember, it is better to buy two years early rather than one day too late. All the freeze-dried and dehydrated food manufacturers combined can only handle around 10,000 clients at a time. This is a very finite resource. If you are indecisive about whether to make a food and water storage investment for you and your family, ask yourself the following simple question, it may help you decide: Would you rather have it and not need it, or need it and not have it?



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