June, 2012

Muscle Memory in Emergency Preparedness

Ever heard the slogan: “Prefect practice makes perfect”?

With last year’s disaster in Japan and others including the Joplin, MO tornado and the BP oil disaster, the supposed “end times” coming up in December, more people bring up disaster preparedness. Some circles live with a preparedness awareness. For members of the Latter Day Saints faith community preparedness has been talked about for years especially centered around having a year’s worth of food and water storage.

One aspect of awareness that gets over looked is the actual practice of practice disaster drills. Think about fire drills at work and school. They can be very disruptive but if a fire broke out there do you know what to do? Can you do it in near automation mode? If the answer is yes then you know why drills are important. It is similar to “muscle memory” in exercise.

There are many good preparedness blogs though one of the best for the average person could be from one that survived Katrina and posted about the experience with worksheets on his blog, “Listening to Katrina.” He gives a great outline on getting prepared in your own region.

A key component of preparedness is practice. Consider having a drill every six months on getting out of the house in one minute or packing the car for evacuation in an hour. Turn off the power and see if you can hook up the generator if you have one or just see how you would manage without power or water one weekend. These practices can be as short or as long as your family wants to tolerate.

Read More

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.

What is the best way to store water?

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.

What can I do to improve the taste of stored or boiled water?

Stored or boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two containers.

What if we run out of water?

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.

Read More