Prepare & Store Water
How much water will you need?
Disasters such as earthquakes and flooding are likely to significantly disrupt essential services such as the water supply. Power and gas services and sewage reticulation might also be affected, and supermarkets and dairies could be closed. So where will you get water in an emergency situation?
Store water now
Be your own best civil defence unit by being well prepared. You may be on your own for three or more days before services are restored or help can reach you. And storing water is easy.
Everyone requires at least three litres of drinking water per day. To last three days, each person will need at least 10 litres of water for drinking, cooking and basic hygiene (such as a quick wash and cleaning teeth).
You also need water for your pets, for washing and other household needs. Work out your requirements, as 10 litres may not be enough.
Bracing your hot water cylinder and header tank will not only guard against damage but can also help ensure a significant store of clean usable water.
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How to prepare water for an emergency
- The easiest and cheapest way to store water is to reuse large plastic soft drink or juice bottles. (Don't use plastic milk containers as these harbour bacteria and cannot be cleaned sufficiently well).
- Wash the bottles thoroughly in hot water.
- Fill each bottle with clean tap water until it overflows.
- Place the lids on tightly, making sure there are no air gaps.
- Label each bottle with the date the water was prepared and when it should be renewed. A smart thing to do is check and/or replace the water when you change your smoke alarm batteries and clocks for daylight saving. Napier Public Warning sirens sound at noon on the first day of daylight saving so this is another reminder to change your water and check your Emergency Box.
- You can buy large containers of water at supermarkets - but you will still need to refresh this supply after a year.
How to store water
- Store bottles away from direct sunlight to help keep the water clear. You will want to access it fairly easily (for example, at the back of a cupboard or pantry).
- Check the bottles every 12 months. If water isn't clear, pour it out and start again.
- To extend storage life further, keep water bottles in a freezer. If the contents are getting low, this will also help your freezer economy.
Using the water
- Check the water by holding it to the light. If you are concerned about its quality, add five drops of unscented bleach per litre and leave for 30 minutes.
- Or buy water-purifying tablets from the chemist. Keep a supply in your first aid kit ready for an emergency. Follow the instructions on the pack.
- If the water is clear but tastes a little stale, a few drops of lemon or lime juice will freshen the taste. Or expose the water to fresh air for a time, or pour it into a different container.
- Remember to keep your bottles and refill them when the emergency is over.
Where else to get water during an emergency
- The hot water cylinder and header tanks both contain drinkable water, so learn how to access this.
- Water in toilet cisterns is safe if no chemical cleaner has been used.
- Collect rainwater and use for washing or pets and plants. Boil for cooking and before drinking.
- You can use swimming pool water for washing and sanitation, but don't drink it.
- If you have doubts about the alternative water supply, strain the water using a clean tea towel, then boil for at least five minutes.
- Rivers and streams are likely to be contaminated, making the water unsafe for human consumption. It is a useful resource for fighting fire, however.
Where can you find other information?
- Look in your telephone book - inside the back page of the Yellow Pages.
- Contact Napier City Council's Civil Defence Manager.
- Check the national Civil Defence website which has all the information you need to help prepare. View National Civil Defence website.
- Check the Hawke's Bay Regional Council website under Civil Defence for local information on hazard risks and preparation. View the Hawke's Bay Emergency Management website.
In an emergency, listen to your radio for advice on evacuations, safety and other matters. Napier City Council's website will provide up-to-date information on the situation and advise you on what to do.