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Steps to Prepare for Drinking Water Emergencies

Release Date: 09/17/2003
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Contact: EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791

(09/17/03) As much of the East Coast prepares for potential emergencies related to hurricane Isabel’s landfall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would like to remind everyone of steps you can take to provide your family with a clean, fresh supply of drinking water available during emergencies.

You should have at least a three gallon supply of water per person. Typically, this would be enough water for three days. Water should be stored in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Soft drink bottles, for instance, work very well. The containers should be tightly sealed, labeled and stored in a cool, dark place. Under these conditions, water can be stored for six months.

If you do not have stored water and there is an emergency, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. The water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl) can also be used as a last resort. Please visit the following Web sites for more information, including where to find water outside your home, ways to purify water and other steps you can take to prepare for natural disasters. For more information, please contact EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or 703-285-1093. You can also contact the hotline via e-mail at:
      For additional emergency information visit: