Safe Drinking Water After a Flood

How does water become contaminated in a flood?

  • After a flood, assume that all water sources are contaminated until proven safe.
  • Contaminated water can cause people to become sick.


How will I know if my water has been contaminated?

  • Do not use water that has a dark color,   has a smell, is cloudy, or contains floating material.
  • There will be a public announcement over radio or television to boil the water.  This is known as a “boil order.”


How do I purify my water?

  • Water can be purified at home or safe water can be purchased.
  • Water may either be boiled or regular household bleach may be added, such as Clorox or Purex brands or any store brand.
  • To boil, bring water to a rolling boil and keep it boiling for approximately 3 minutes.  Pour water into disinfected drinking container (instructions for disinfecting containers provided below).Store in refrigerator if possible.
  • To use household bleach, strain the water through a coffee filter or cheese cloth to remove dirt and other particles. Use 1/8 teaspoon (or 6-8 drops from a dropper) of regular household bleach to a gallon of water. Let stand for 30 minutes.  If water is still cloudy after 30 minutes, add another 1/8 teaspoon (or 6-8 drops from a dropper) of regular household bleach per gallon and let the water stand another 30 minutes.
  • Do not use more than the recommended amount of bleach.  Large amounts can be poisonous.


What are the best types of containers to use to store water?

  • Use clean plastic or glass containers such as clean soft drink bottles or clean canning jars that have tight-fitting screw caps.  Do not use plastic milk jugs because they do not seal well.
  • Use clean disinfected containers only.  Remember to disinfect them again each time they are refilled.


How do I disinfect containers to use for storing drinking water?

  • Fill container with one gallon of clean water.
  • Add one tablespoon of regular household bleach to the water in the container.  (Let stand for 10 minutes, then pour out).  Rinse the container with clean water.
  • Fill container again with clean water, then cap the container for later use.

You may also boil glass bottles or jars to disinfect them. In a large pan, submerge the bottle or jar in clean water.  Bring to a drinking water