Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Purifying Water for Drinking

It's important to have plenty of drinking water in an emergency. Of course, the easiest way is to buy bottled water. You can buy it by the gallon, or in 2.5 gallon bottles, or in the huge bottles that you need a water cooler to use.
You can also store tap water in sealed containers, if you know that a disaster is about to befall your community.

If you don't have time to stock up on water or if the disaster is sudden, you may need to purify the water that you have on hand. Perhaps it's trickling in to your faucet through damaged lines, so it may be contaminated. Maybe you're collecting rain water in a barrel, or you're just not sure how clean that game day Gatorade cooler was when you filled it up. In those cases, you can safely purify water yourself, with the right supplies.

This information is from the Washington State Health Department, who worked with theEmergency Management Division of the Washington State Military Department to put it this together.

These are tips to use when the only water available to you may be contaminated by bacteria or viruses. These techniques will not protect you if the water is unsafe because of chemicals, oils, poisonous substances, sewage or other contaminants. In those cases, do NOT use the water for drinking.

Storing water safely

  • Store one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Store at least a three-day supply of water per person.
  • Collect the water from a safe supply.
  • Thoroughly washed plastic containers such as soft drink bottles are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
  • Seal water containers tightly, label with date, and store in a cool, dark place.
  • Replace water every six months.
  • Never reuse a container that contained toxic materials such as pesticides, solvents, chemicals, oil or antifreeze.

Water purification

There are two primary ways to treat water: boiling and adding bleach. If tap water is unsafe because of water contamination (from floods, streams or lakes), boiling is the best method.
  • Cloudy water should be filtered before boiling or adding bleach.
  • Filter water using coffee filters, paper towels, cheese cloth or a cotton plug in a funnel.


  • Boiling is the safest way to purify water.
  • Bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute.
  • Let the water cool before drinking.

Purifying by adding liquid chlorine bleach

  • If boiling is not possible, treat water by adding liquid household bleach, such as Clorox or Purex. Household bleach is typically between 5 percent and 6 percent chlorine. Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. Be sure to read the label.
  • Place the water (filtered, if necessary) in a clean container. Add the amount of bleach according to the table below.
  • Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before using (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold).

Treating Water with a 5-6 Percent Liquid Chlorine Bleach Solution

Volume of Water to be Treated Treating Clear/Cloudy Water:
Bleach Solution to Add
Treating Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water: Bleach Solution to Add
1 quart/1 liter 3 drops 5 drops
1/2 gallon/2 quarts/2 liters 5 drops 10 drops
1 gallon 1/8 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
5 gallons  1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
10 gallons 1 teaspoon 2 teaspoons

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Isaac Is Coming!

We put up some of our hurricane shutters today, on windows in the back of the house, the three pictured plus two smaller windows for the office and bathroom. Unless the track drastically changes, we'll put up most of the other ones tomorrow - side windows for office and bedroom, front windows on bedroom, cats' room, living room, dining room, and probably the back doors. I'm guessing Tim will want to wait and do the front door on Monday, so we can keep using it.

Once I get to work on Monday, I will likely be there until after the storm passes. I'll have the car, as our street will probably flood. With Ivan in 2004 and in the spring floods of 2005, the water got almost to our front porch, so the car will be safer in the parking lot at work. NOT under the tree where I usually park for shade.

I wasn't worried when Isaac was projected to be a Category 1 at landfall. Now it's expected to be a mid-range Cat 2. That's a little more troublesome, especially since we've had so much rain this year. Trees are blowing over left and right in regular thunderstorms. The large trees in our yard are all gone, but one neighbor has several oaks and pecans that could fall on our house, and another neighbor has a tall pine that could hit our shed.

If you want to better understand the Saffer-Simpson Scale (Cat 1-5), check out this animation created by The COMET Program and posted on the National Hurricane Center website. It illustrates how much wind damage can be caused at each level.

Be ready. Be safe.

Isaac on the Way

Isaac is intensifying as it approaches Haiti, and most of the models have it heading into the central Panhandle of Florida on Tuesday.

Ted Lange as Isaac Washington.
Am I the only one who keeps picturing Isaac from The Love Boat? I always liked Ted Lange. Unfortunately, the Isaac that's churning in the Gulf of Mexico is no fun to be around.

The models have been all over the place on this one. Over the past three days, the National Hurricane Center's track has taken the storm as far west as Mississippi and as far east as the Florida Peninsula. Sometimes the models are close together, sometimes they're more spread out.

A lot of different factors go into determining the way the storm will go. Troughs, ridges, high pressure systems all play a role in guiding the storm, and different models predict different developments of those areas. In other words, it's a guessing game. A very scientific guessing game based on our knowledge of weather patterns over the years, but it's guessing all the same.

No matter where the eye makes landfall, the rest of the Gulf Coast will get some of its effects. Right now, the storm is about 460 miles across. It's getting smaller; on Thursday, I read it was 678 miles across and before that, I'd heard a thousand miles across. Tropical cyclones tend to get smaller as they become more organized, as Isaac is doing now. It was a very scattered, low intensity storm. As I write this at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, the eye is becoming more defined. It makes a pretty picture, but it means the storm is getting scarier.

I bought batteries, duct tape, wet wipes, extra bandage strips, bread, and lots of bottled water today. We have plenty of canned tuna and chicken, potted meat, Vienna sausages, and green beans (which we eat cold out of the can). I also picked up some BelVita Breakfast Biscuits; they're like cookies but with some nutritious value. We have some shelf stable milk in the fridge, but I need to drink up the half gallon of soy milk I bought last week. Maybe that's what doomed us; since Hurricane Ivan, we haven't bought two gallons of milk at the same time, but this is soy AND it's chocolate, so I didn't think it would count. Yes, I'm a bit superstitious about this!

We'll continue to watch the storm's track and decide on Sunday if we need to put up the storm shutters that we got through Rebuild Northwest Florida. I'm glad that we'll be able to cover all of our windows this time; the long windows on the two front bedrooms didn't have any protection before, and all we had over the three large windows on the back room were burglar bars. Our roof was replaced, and between the roofing company and the folks from Rebuild, we have lots of extra nails and tie-downs in, to keep it attached.

I think we're as prepared as we can be.

My worries: one of the neighbors' trees has been leaning a bit since Ivan; the ground is saturated because of the flood event on June 9 and near daily storms since; and one of the cats is sick, which is unrelated to the storm of course, but still an extra stress we don't need. We will have to try to fix up some new sandbags this weekend.

Are you ready for the storm? Do you have a Family Disaster Plan and a well-stocked Disaster Kit? If you live on the Gulf Coast, you should have one ready. If Isaac doesn't come your way, the next storm might.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tips for Safe Homes

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes® offers tips and resources for families preparing in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac. Resources include emergency plywood shutter installation, evacuation tips and items for hurricane emergency kits.

As Tropical Storm Isaac moves west, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® encourages families to take steps now to properly prepare themselves and their homes for severe conditions. 

"As this storm approaches, families may be tempted to take out a roll of tape for the windows but taping offers no protection against tropical storm or hurricane damage," says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President/CEO of FLASH. "Right now, families can follow the guidelines in our Protect Your Home in a FLASH toolkit to learn the correct ways to prepare for a hurricane. These free resources can help them get ready for Isaac or whatever else may come this hurricane season."

FLASH recommends these preparedness tips for families in the path of Tropical Storm Isaac:

Protect Your Home

  • If you have hurricane shutters now is the time to install them. Make sure your shutters are working properly and fit securely to ensure proper protection.
  • If you don't have shutters, install plywood, emergency shutters. Never use tape on windows as hurricane protection. 
  • Secure or relocate items outside the house that can blow around. Don't forget about trash cans, grills, toys and potted plants. Also, take time to look for any dead tree limbs and remove them carefully if you have time.
Have an evacuation plan for your home. Before you leave be sure to:
  • Turn off the water, gas and electricity  
  • Leave a note that you have left and where you are going
  • Be sure to lock your home
Prepare Your Family
  • Review your family emergency plan. Be sure to review and update any evacuation plans.
  • Ensure your family emergency kit is complete. Your kit should include, at a minimum:
             o Enough food and water for all members
                of the family, including pets, to last at
                least 72 hours
             o Extra cash on hand since an extended power 
                outage may prevent you from withdrawing
                money from ATM's or banks
             o A battery powered and NOAA weather radio 
             o First aid kit and toiletries
             o Flashlights and extra batteries
             o Blankets, pillows, extra clothes, toys and games
                to keep the family comfortable and occupied
             o Special needs items for babies, family members with special medical needs and pets
  • Fill your gas tank; gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Gather and store important paperwork like insurance papers, mortgage documents, marriage certificates, etc. in waterproof containers.

If the Power Goes Out
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.
  • Don't plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home's electrical system - as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.
  • When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary, "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.
This is a press release prepared by FLASH. For more hurricane preparedness tips visit or call 877-221-SAFE.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Tropics Heat Up

Tropical depression five is headed towards the Caribbean, and forecasters expect it to reach hurricane strength by Monday. It's expected to pass between Puerto Rico and Venezuela, so all those little islands down there are in the path as it makes a beeline for Jamaica. If it does continue to strengthen as expected, its name will be Ernesto.

If you live on the Gulf Coast, this is the time to look over your hurricane checklists and start doing some preliminary planning. Here's a simple page with a few things to think about, from the Baldwin County, Alabama, Electric Membership Corporation.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Solar Cell (Phone)

This would be handy in hurricane season or any disaster. Well, any disaster except a nuclear winter when the sky is filled with dust and clouds that obscure the sun.

It's a solar-powered cell phone. Too bad they're only marketed in India. They're only $45!

Of course, I think it was an Indian phone that exploded while plugged in to recharge. Just imagine what could happen if it can recharge anytime, anywhere the sun is shining!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ten Minutes to Leave

June 2012 was a month of extremes. Extreme dry weather and heat led to dozens of massive wildfires in the western United States. Extreme rainfall - some related to Tropical Storm Debby, some from thunderstorms- flooded homes, businesses and streets.

Some people had just minutes to grab what they could and leave their homes.

image shows part of a clock face and a little bit of the hands.
If you had ten minutes, at most, to leave your house - perhaps forever - what would you take?

Lives - children and pets - come first, of course.

But then what?

Your computer? Or portable hard drive with all those digital photos you can't replace? Do you have old family photo albums or treasured heirlooms? Valuable jewelry? A change of clothes?

a family prepares a disaster supply kit
It is impossible to keep everything packed all the time, but you can ease your mind a little bit by having an emergency bag handy with a change or two of clothes for each family member, some cheap toothbrushes and other toiletries.

Make copies of all your important documents: insurance policies and cards, ID and birth certificates, lists of bank accounts and credit cards with contact phone numbers. Put the copies in your emergency bag or in your disaster kit along with your non-perishable food and flashlights. Alternatively, invest in a portable, locking, fire- and water-resistant document box and keep any documents and copies there. It'll be safer if left behind, but if it's small, you can grab it along with your suitcase and disaster kit.

Next, make a list. Start with the obvious things first:
  • purse
  • cell phone
  • laptop
  • emergency suitcase
  • disaster kit
  • document lockbox
Make sure you add those things you can't really pack in advance - that pearl necklace you inherited from your great grandmother, the portable hard drive where your photos are stored, your child's favorite blanket or toy.

By making the list when you're calm, you can make decisions about what's most important, what you can fit in your vehicle, and you'll be sure not to forget the most important things. You'll also be able to make your getaway faster, because you'll know what to grab and where it is. You'll have a plan. You won't waste precious minutes standing in the middle of the room asking yourself, "What should I take?

You'll already know.

Here are some links to help you get started:

Build a Kit
Be Red Cross Ready

Monday, June 25, 2012

Strange Season

First four tracks of 2012 courtesy
What a strange hurricane season this has been. Two named storms before June first, and two in  June, so far. Hurricane Chris didn't make landfall, and Tropical Storm Debby hasn't yet, but will, eventually.

The biggest problem with Debby is that it's such a wet storm, just loitering off the Florida coast and dumping copious amounts of rain. That means flooding for a lot of people.

Any Gulf storm is going to send higher tides and bigger waves to coastal communities, and that brings erosion and some flooding.

Debby spun off some damaging tornadoes in South Florida and did some wind damage. For example, it has snapped off several old or rotted trees and knocked them onto nearby homes.

I look at a Debby, and I say, it's no big deal. It's just a tropical storm. But look at the damage this little storm is doing and imagine if Debby had become a hurricane or a major hurricane.


That's why it's so important to do preventative maintenance, to have a disaster plan, to build an emergency kit. That way, if the "little storm" brings more damage than you're expecting, you're ready. If it grows into a big storm, you're prepared.

Have you been putting off tree trimming, fixing a loose gutter, or cleaning out the drains around your home? If you live in hurricane country, don't put it off too long. It can be tough to find the money and the time, but it will cost you more in the long run, if a storm comes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Early Start to the 2012 Season

Wow, hurricane season doesn't even start until Thursday, and already we've had two named storms. Alberto and Beryl never got above tropical storm strength. Both storms formed in the Atlantic, just off the East Coast of the U.S.

That said, the forecast released in April by Dr. Bill Gray and his protogé Dr. Philip Klotzbach (whose name comes first on the predictions these days) calls for a quiet season. They wrote:

We anticipate that the 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have reduced activity compared with the 1981-2010 climatology. The tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past several months, and it appears that the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are relatively high. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. However, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

You can read the full report online at the Colorado State University website.

Let's hope they're right!

Win Free Emergency Rations

A website that sells MREs (meals-ready-to-eat), freeze-dried food, and other survival supplies is having a giveaway for a one-year supply of non-perishable foods. The site is The Ready Store You must sign up for their newsletter to enter. The entry form/sign-up box is on the right side of their main page.

NOTE: They email a confirmation with a link you have to click on to confirm your subscription/entry. When I did that, the Ready Store website started to open, then it re-directed to some sort of "fairy dust" page that looked very spammy. This was just after midnight on May 29, 2012. I replied to their confirmation email to notify them of this redirect, so hopefully they'll fix it soon.

iPad 3 Giveaway

The New iPad Giveaway Event is a free blogger event. You will receive one link at no cost as a thank you for participating in this event.
Free Link options are: Email, RSS, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Prize: The New iPad ~ iPad3 16GB (value $499)

Open to: Worldwide (note – non-US residents will receive the cash equivalent).

The event dates: July 1 at 12:01 am to July 15 11:59am

What is required to join? Post about the event with the button (left) linking back to this post. Feel free to copy paste this (below) along with the button.

Mom to Bed by 8, the Iowa-Mom is proud to present the The New iPad Giveaway Event, sponsored by BeeSavy.

Event dates: July 1 to July 15.

Details: This is a free blogger event, open worldwide and blog accepting sign ups now.

Join The New iPad Giveaway event with special co-host voiceBoks today!

If you do not wish to post the announcement, send the $5 via paypal to with your email address and BeeSavy Event in subject line or notes portion of the form. Once you have posted your announcement or sent the paypal payment, fill out this form. You will receive an email from me with 7 days, confirming your participation. If you do not, please email me at and I will check into it for you. Then around June 28th you will receive another email from me with the html code for publishing the giveaway.

Note it is required that you publish the giveaway html in full to be included in this event. I will verify links on July 1st around 8am central and if you have not done so, your link on the rafflecopter will be removed. This keeps this event fair for all who joins. Referral prize: The top referrer will receive $50 paypal or Amazon credit for your effort. Then the top 2 runners-up will receive $10 paypal or Amazon credit Just make sure to add-on your announcement that they should add your blog name or url in the referred by section on the sign up form. This bonus will be paid the on June 2nd after your referral links have been verified.

NOTE: We at the Hurricane Safety Blog don't know anything about the sponsors of this giveaway, but  we would like to have an iPod. Enter at your own risk.