by Bill Pope | February 17, 2015
MOUNT CARBON, W.Va.- A train derailment in West Virginia raises an important preparedness question, “How can I be prepared in the event my water supply is compromised?”
According to the Associated Press–
A train carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil derailed during a snowstorm in southern West Virginia on Monday, sending at least one tanker into a river, igniting at least 14 in all and sending a fireball hundreds of feet into the sky, officials and residents said.
Part of the derailed train slammed into a house, residents said. Officials evacuated hundreds of families and shut down two water treatment plants threatened by oil seeping into the river. And fires were still burning nearly nine hours after the accident, according to state public safety division spokesman Lawrence Messina. The plan is to let those tankers on fire burn out, he said.
The Kanawha River supplies the drinking water to both Kanawha and Fayette Counties. No word yet on the effect this will have on the citizens who depend on the river for their water supply. However, Governor Tomblin’s declared State of Emergency for both counties suggests an ominous outlook.
The West Virginia train derailment is a classic reminder that disasters take many forms and can strike without warning. It’s a lesson that survival preparedness is a good idea for everyone no matter where they live. So how can one prepare for the event that your main water supply is compromised?
Let’s review a few simple precautions you can take to help protect you and your family.
FEMA guidelines suggest you store at least 3 days water supply for emergencies. That is, 1 Gallon, per person, per day, for hydration and sanitation purposes. Personally, I believe this is far too low. Even your average disaster could leave you without water for much longer than that. If I didn’t have at least a months worth of water, along with multiple options for locating and filtering at least a years worth, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Understandably, for a lot of people, space and money could be an issue when it comes to storing emergency supplies. Those living in larger cities tend to have less space, yet ironically seem to be the most susceptible. A 2 week supply and a simple hiking water filter are good starting points. The cost could be kept to a minimum, and space could be found if you get creative. I defy you to tell me you don’t feel better already just thinking about it.
Bottled water is the easiest, but conversely, the most expensive. It’s extremely portable, which is a plus in the event the situation is so dire, you need to bug out.
Empty soda and drink bottles are the poor man’s means to water storage by refilling with tap water. Just remember to wash out the bottles thoroughly with dish soap and hot water, fill them completely and seal them tight.
5 & 7 gallon jugs are already familiar to hunters and campers alike, and can easily be stored in a garage or closet. They are made from food grade plastic, and are usually a dark blue or green color to help prevent light from penetrating, thus stopping algae growth. They can generally be found for under $10 a piece.
Whichever way you go make sure to rotate your water on a regular basis. Generally tap water should be rotated and replaced every 6 months to a year. Store bought bottled water will generally keep a bit longer but you want to make sure to keep rotating these as well. The last thing you want is big mouthful of stagnant water.
Water filters can range in size from portable units that can fit into one’s pocket or bag all the way to large family size units that are less portable but usually more effective. Most quality filters will do a good job of filtering out most bacteria, parasites, and possibly even viruses. In a pinch, you can also make your own water filter with a combination of sand, rocks, charcoal and some other basic items. Combine that with a chemical treatment or boiling and you can make almost any source of water drinkable. Although standard water filters aren’t recommended for oil contaminated water (you’re better off using a separator funnel), they could still prove to be an invaluable tool in the event you have to bug out and leave your stored water supply behind, have to eventually find a water source once you run out, or if the water you have becomes compromised in any way.
You can go all out, and create your own elaborate system, or it could be as simple as placing a rain barrel, or 55 gallon drum under your rain gutter. Since this water is running through your gutters and collecting in an open pool, this might be where you put you filter to good use. Water purification tabs are also a handy method for producing clean drinking water. Bleach can also be used once you familiarize yourself with proper dosage. Lastly you can also boil it with a simple backpack stove kept in your camping supplies, or bug out bag.
However far you take it depends on a number of factors, including budget, space and commitment level. One thing is for certain, when it comes to emergency preparedness it is up to you to protect your family from disaster. Be Prepared, Be Confident, Be Chaos Ready!