Alternate Water

Inside the home —

If a disaster catches you without a
stored supply of clean water, you can use the water
in your hot water tank, pipes and faucets or ice cubes.

If your tap water is safe to drink, so is the water in your pipes and hot-water tank, even if the idea seems unappealing. If you don't drink tap water, the water in your pipes and hot-water tank may still be useful for sanitation.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, then open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on a hot-water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, only a professional can turn it back on.

To use the water in your pipes, identify and turn on the highest faucet in your home to let air into the plumbing. You then can get water from the lowest faucet.


Treating Water
That May Be Unsafe

If you are aware there are broken water or sewage lines in your area, tune in to your local media to ensure you are treating your water properly. In an emergency, regular household liquid bleach can be used to treat water that may be unsafe by using 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners. Water can also be treated by bringing it to a rolling boil for 1 full minute. Cool the water and pour it back and forth between two clean containers to improve its taste before drinking it.







In an emergency, it's vital to have a supply of clean water for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene.

  • Store at least 1 gallon per person and pet per day.
  • Store at least a 3-day supply of water for each member of your family.

In an emergency, drink at least 2 quarts of water a day, 3 to 4 quarts a day if you are in a hot climate, pregnant, sick, or a child.

Tips on water storage:

  • Store your water in a cool, dark place in your home, in each vehicle, and at your workplace.
  • It's best to store water in store-bought, factory-sealed water containers.
  • If you want to store water on your own, make sure you use food-grade-quality containers made for storing water. These are available from sporting goods and surplus stores and other retailers. These containers must be thoroughly washed (with dishwashing soap and rinsed with water), sanitized (by swishing a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water on all interior surfaces of the container), and rinsed (with clean water before use) . The water you store in them, if it's from your tap, may need to be treated before being stored. Ask your public health service or water provider for information on whether and how to treat the water. Follow those instructions before storing any.
  • Change your stored water every 6 months to make sure you have a fresh, safe supply.


Click here for more information on
Food and Water in Emergencies

Information courtesy of American Red Cross
and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.