Treating Water During an Emergency

Sometimes you may need to treat your water during an emergency (e.g., an earthquake) when the water's safety may be in doubt. You can treat your tap water by either boiling it or disinfecting with unscented household liquid bleach or commercial disinfection tablets. For the best results, chill the water before drinking.
  1. Option one: Bring water to a rolling boil and then boil rapidly for at least one minute. Allow the water to cool before drinking. This is the preferred method.
  2. Option two: Add unscented household liquid bleach to tap water. Add 8 drops per gallon (16 cups) of water. Stir, cover and let site for 30 minutes before using. If the water is very dirty, double the number of bleach drops to 16. The disinfected water should have a slight chlorine smell. If it doesn't, add another dosage of bleach and let sit for 15 minutes more before using. Do not use scented, powdered or swimming pool bleach since these products may contain dangerous chemicals.
  3. Option three: Use commercial disinfection tablets, often found in sporting goods stores, and follow package directions. If you are without water for some time, here are some other sources of water in the house: melted ice cubes, your water heater, canned vegetables, water taken from the toilet tank (not the bowl), and then disinfected as described above.