NSF International’s Post Hurricane Emergency Safety Tips: What You Can Do to Keep Your Drinking Water and Food Safe

November 16, 2012

More than 8 million Americans have been left without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and authorities estimate that it could be a week or longer before it is restored. To help protect the safety of drinking water, public health and safety organization NSF International provides the following safety tips.

Methods of Purifying Water

Both public and private water supplies can be compromised during extensive flooding. If you aren't sure about the quality of your water supply, don’t drink it. There are several ways to purify water that may have been contaminated or comes from a questionable source:

    Boiling water – Will destroy most bacteria, cysts and viruses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends boiling drinking water for a minimum of two to three minutes at a good rolling boil.

    Liquid (not granular) household bleach – Should be free of additives or scents and contain a hypochlorite solution of at least 5.25 percent. The American Red Cross recommends adding 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water and letting the water stand for at least 30 minutes. If the water doesn't have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. A filter certified for chlorine reduction can be used to reduce excess chlorine.

Purification tablets – If you have them in your emergency kit, be sure to follow the directions on the package. Chemical disinfectants are generally effective against most forms of bacteria and viruses, but may not kill intestinal parasites (cysts), so boiling or filtering for cysts may still be needed.

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