(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes)
In addition to having a bad odor, and taste, water from questionable sources may be contaminated by a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and parasites that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. All water of uncertain purity should be treated before use.
The American Red Cross recommends the following steps for treating water after a power outage or other emergency, if the water's purity is uncertain:
- Filter the water using a piece of cloth or coffee filter to remove solid particles.
- Bring it to a rolling boil for about one full minute.
- Let it cool at least 30 minutes. Water must be cool or the chlorine treatment described below will be useless.
- Add 16 drops of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water, or 8 drops per 2-liter bottle of water. Stir to mix. Sodium hypochlorite of the concentration of 5.25% to 6% should be the only active ingredient in the bleach. There should not be any added soap or fragrances. A major bleach manufacturer has also added Sodium Hydroxide as an active ingredient, which they state does not pose a health risk for water treatment.
- Let stand 30 minutes.
- If it smells of chlorine, you can use it. If it does not smell of chlorine, add 16 more drops of chlorine bleach per gallon of water (or 8 drops per 2-liter bottle of water), let stand 30 minutes, and smell it again. If it smells of chlorine, you can use it. If it does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
Remember: Food that has not been refrigerated can cause severe health
Refer to the tips on NJOEM's "What
to do During a Blackout" page.
Also refer to "Help! The Power is Out!" (as PDF
also available in Spanish)
available from the American Red Cross. This two-page flyer
provides information on food safety and storage during power
"Help! The Power is Out" contains a useful chart to help you
decide whether to keep or discard foods after a blackout,
depending on the type of food, temperature and duration of