General Emergency Preparedness Tips
Emergency preparedness is an essential component to your well-being and survival of an emergency. Disasters don't wait. That's why it's a good idea to get prepared in advance of a crisis.
Western prepares for emergencies through regular training and emergency exercises and needs households, businesses, schools, and other community organizations to do their part to be prepared
- Update your contact information with both Western and RivCoReady, to receive notice of weather-related power shutdowns or other outages.
- Store two weeks' worth of clean, bottled water: 1 gallon per day, per person, plus extra water for pets or special needs. Note: While people can survive for long stretches without food, they can die in as few as three days without water.
- Store at least three days' worth of nonperishable, easy-to-consume food, along with a manual can opener.
- Create an "in-home" emergency kit with flashlights, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, matches, a first-aid kit, hand sanitizer/towelettes, and a map of the local area.
- Create a "to go" emergency kit with clothing, blankets, baby and/or pet food, hygiene items, cash, passport(s), a whistle, and medications/eyeglasses/hearing aids/medical supplies as necessary. Know how to manually open your garage door.
How to store tap water
- Use two-liter soda bottles, as they are made from long-lasting plastic that will not impart taste or cause discoloration if properly cleaned.
- Wash the bottles using mild dish soap and sanitize them using 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in one quart of water. Cover the bottle, rinse, and drain it, and let it air dry.
- Fill each container with tap water and seal, leaving as little space for air as possible.
- Store each container in a cool, dark place that will be easily accessible in an emergency. Be sure to label each container with the date it was filled. Water should be replaced every six months.
Where to store tap water
- In a cool, dark place in your home, vehicle, and workplace.
- Preferably in store-bought, factory-sealed water containers.
- Alternately, in food-grade-quality containers made for storing water and available from sporting goods stores and other retailers. These containers must be washed, sanitized, and rinsed.
Indoor safe water sources
- Melted ice cubes
- Water drained from the water heater (if the water heater is undamaged)
- Liquids from canned foods
- Water drained from pipes
- Hot water boilers (home heating system)
- Water beds (fungicides or chemicals may make water unsafe to use)
- Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank
- Swimming pools and spas (chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking but can be used for personal hygiene and cleaning)
Outdoor water sources
If you must find water outside your home, try:
- Moving bodies of water such as flowing rivers or streams
- Natural springs
Treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food preparation, washing dishes, brushing teeth, or making ice. Contaminated water can cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis.
Of the many ways to treat water, none is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth.
To treat water of uncertain quality in an emergency, when no other reliable clean water source is available, the options include:
Boiling. This is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.
Chlorination. You can use household liquid bleach to kill disease-causing microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach with 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. To ensure potency, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle.
Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn't, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
Distillation. While boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove germs that resist those methods. Distillation involves boiling water and collecting only the vapor that condenses. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so the cup hangs right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
For more details about water treatment, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's website.
For more information about how you can prepare for emergencies, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website, Ready.gov. To learn about local planning in Riverside County, visit RivcoReady.org or sign up for county emergency alerts.