An emergency water purification system is often considered one of the first acquisitions a prepper should make in the quest to be ready for most any disaster. In discussions of emergency preparedness for any sort of disaster H20 supply is one of 4 or 5 keys to survival. That supply, along with a compliment of emergency supplies like adequate food storage, a survival kit, an emergency radio, temporary shelter and other emergency essentials are paramount.
We can try to store significant amounts of water but at some point those supplies will run out and we will need drinking water purification methods to continue. An emergency water filter of some sort will need to be employed if there is any doubt about its purity. Because sources may not be contaminant free, some kind of filtration system must be devised to make sure your H2O is safe and abundant.
There are different emergency water purifier methods that provide for safe drinking water depending on the length of time you want to prepare for. For instance, for the short term the best way to prepare for disaster water filtration at home or away is to not filter at all but to stock safe drinking water ahead of time. This method can be extended to large quantities if space is available for water storage instead of going straight to 911 water filtration. This works great while it lasts but is not good for a long term solution.
In an extended crisis, when stored supplies have been exhausted, a emergency water filtration system would be the best way to secure safe water. I have devised a three stage plan to cover short, medium and long-term emergency water supply needs for my family.
Stage I – Short-term Emergency Water Purification And Filtration System
Plain and simple water storage is awesome for short term. The only thing that one needs to make sure of is that the water is fresh and free of contaminates. At minimum each person will need 1-2 gallons supplies. This is the normal recommended amount per person.
I believe it is advisable to have a 7-14 day supply on hand. Of course this will depend on how much space you have available, or what space you can make available to store.
Emergency Water Storage Tip:
Friends of mine own a restaurant and they refill their fryer every few days with fresh cooking oil. The oil comes in 5 gallon thin plastic containers with a perfect handle on top, similar to a square 5 gallon gas container. The picture at the left shows one with a soda can to give perspective. I got several of them, cleaned them very well with dish soap and rinsing thoroughly. They make a perfect size to store water. Now I store a 14 day (short term) supply of water for myself and my family in these containers. They are far easier to handle than one gallon containers and these water storage containers were free! Find a local restaurant that has a fryer and I bet you can get them too.
Stage II – Medium-term Emergency Water Purification and Filtration System
In the past there was not a good medium-term purification system. Preppers had to jump from short term to long term or fear running out of water. That problem has now been eliminated with several new products on the market that fall into the category of personal water filtration. I became very excited when these burst onto the prepper products scene. Thye filled a real need for medium term emergency water purification. My favorite configuration of this solution looks like a normal water bottle in many ways but will give you purified water wherever you go. The enclosed filter removes up to 99.99% of pollutants and can treat up to 100 gallons. That will provide one person with almost 2 months of water or much longer if it is only used for drinking. It even serves as an insulator to keep your water cool too.
It holds 27 ounces of pure drinking pleasure in a food grade stainless steel bottle that is the perfect size to make it easy to carry. The bottle uses a Ionic-Adsorption Micro-Filtration System and is actually an entire water filtration plant within a portable bottle.
The filter reduces 99.99% of contaminates to make the water enjoyable rather than a scary proposition. It removes odor, chlorine, dirt all the while dealing with clarity too. All kinds of harmful waste products from industry and agriculture as well as chemicals, pesticides and detergents are almost totally eliminated. Dissolved Solids like heavy metals such as aluminum, asbestos, copper, lead, mercury, chromium 6 are among other things are removed by this amazing filter.
This is the perfect portable emergency water purification / filtration for a medium term use. It fills the gap between the supply of water you have stored for disaster prep and the time when you feel a longer term solution is necessary. The bottles I have pictured below are by far the best on the market in my mind and they are what I use for my family.
Stage III– Long-term Emergency Water Purification and Filtration System
The final stage of my emergency water purification plan involves a more permanent system. The main component is a bio-sand filter. This may be unfamiliar to you but there is a short video just underneath this text that explains how one of these would be made. The system has been used in many developing countries to filter unsanitary water very inexpensively. It’s simple to make with inexpensive supplies but does take three days to be fully ready once it has started to be used.
Here’s a video of a simple bio-sand filter that just about anyone could have ready to use when the need arose.
The following video is a more technical explanation of how bio-sand emergency water purification would work. Although this video was made in regard to developing countries it applies to emergency situations as well.
It is basically a container with gravel and sand used as a filter media. It is so simple you may already have all you need to make this in or around your home. No power is even needed. Water is poured through the top and collected from the bottom of the system. Here is a link to a pdf explaining more formally and completely how effective this filter is.
After the water is run through this bio-sand filter, it is my opinion that it should be further disinfected using one of these three methods below just for complete safety. It probably is not necessary but I would rather error on the side of caution.
There are other ways to do this but these are the least expensive and easiest to administer. The first is boiling, the second method would be to use chlorine or chlorine tablets, and the third method is to use solar disinfection or “SODIS”. I will explain each of these disinfection methods.
Emergency Water Purification by Boiling
This method is quite common in prepper circles and is probably the oldest method in the world for disinfecting water. Simply use a heat source and a pan to bring it to a boil for about a minute (adding one minute for each 1000 feet in elevation). This method does not remove chemicals but it is very effective in the removal of pathogens.
Emergency Water Purification Using Chlorine
This is probably the easiest method of all because all one needs to do is add chlorine to the water in the appropriate amounts and allow it to do the work. Here is a link to an emergency water purification calculator: http://www.csgnetwork.com/h2oemergencypurifycalc.html
That calculator will tell you exactly how much chlorine to use based on the condition of the water and the amount you are disinfecting. It just takes about 30 minutes. Chlorine tablets probably are the best because they have a shelf life of about five years, while liquid chlorine used for this purpose should be used within three months of manufacture making it somewhat inappropriate for long term prepping but still an option.
It is a better option to have chlorine tablets since their use can be planned years in advance instead of months. It is recommended that once the chlorine is been added to allow about 30 minutes for the chemical to do its work. Chlorine is not as effective as boiling in removing all pathogens but is a good option when your options may be limited.
Emergency Water Purification Using The Sun (SODIS)
This method is a less known but is said to be quite effective if done according to instructions, takes no power and is actually very simple. You take relatively clear water collected from whatever source you may have available and put it in clear plastic bottles and allow the sun to decontaminate the water through simple exposure to UV rays. It is recommended that direct sunlight exposure be at least six hours on a sunny day and if it is a cloudier day, that the water be exposed for a total of two days. The video below shows a very good explanation of how this works.
So to recap, first you would use your stored supply in your bug-out plan or your bug-in plan (stay home). The length of time this lasts will of course depend on how much you have stored. I have seen preppers often recommend one to two week supply but honestly I have seen preppers disagree depending on their emphasis. Use your best judgment.
Calculate the amount you’ll need based on a minimum of 1-2 gallons per day per person. Once that supply is exhausted, move on to stage II filtration while you prepare your stage III filtration. Stage II method is best just for drinking water and could actually be used at the same time as Stage I if one were to immediately implement Stage III so there is no chance of running out of a filtration method.
The Center For Affordable Water And Sanitation Technology has many resources that explain these and other methods. You can find these resources at www.cawst.org. Look for the link near the top called “Resources” for complete list.
Update: Five Gallon Bucket Emergency Water Purification and Filtration System
I just found another solution that I would like to add to this post. It is a self-contained unit that could be very effective for a situation where water is available but needs to be purified. The system that is demonstrated would in effect be a complete alternative system for a few people and the great part is it only cost about $50 and no filters have to be replaced but only cleaned from time to time. I am even thinking of putting this system in my home for drinking water instead of buying an expensive system or bottled water. Take a look at this video and see what you think.
By now you know this is a ceramic water filter system and here is what Wikipedia has to say about ceramic water filters although the kind discussed above are likely more effective and less volatile than that which is discussed in Wikipedia. Also the addition of bleach for purification after the filtration makes the water more secure since bleach will kill a number of organisms and give you a double layer of protection against that which might cause you harm. Here is the link to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic_water_filter
I have included some excellent instructions in the form of a pdf that you can download here: http://www.stpaulmercantile.com/BucketFilter.pdf. There is no charge for these instructions by either the creator of the pdf or by this website. It is for informational purposes. If you decide to go this route please support this blog by taking a look at our store with all the supplies you will need to build it. Just click on the graphic below.
You will need to decide what emergency water filtration is best for your situation but the important thing is that you start now to secure your water and the ability to obtain clean water as soon as possible so you will be ready with your very own emergency water purification system.