Hazards of Contamination
There is always a concern about providing clean drinking water for your family. Exploring the variety of survival filtration systems for your home is one step towards ensuring a safe water supply when sheltering in place is the best option.
When emergencies occur and the local authorities issue “boil water” advisories, you know there are serious problems with the regular supply. These cannot be ignored or discounted, as they represent a serious public health concern.
Contaminated water can:
- Have an unpleasant odor or taste
- Exhibit an unusual color
- Contain sediment
- Harbor deadly pathogenic strains of E coli bacteria
- May contain cryptosporidium and giardia that result in parasitic infections causing severe diarrhea and nausea
- Include viruses and fluke larvae
- Contain dangerous toxic chemicals or heavy metals that can cause digestive problems and nervous system disorders.
Preppers Guide To Water Filters
All water of questionable quality should be treated before it is used for drinking, cooking or personal hygiene. When preparing your family for emergencies and prolonged recoveries, your water supply will take up considerable space, since disaster preparedness experts recommend a daily allowance of one gallon per person in your household. In addition to stockpiling an adequate supply, many preppers include equipment for water treatment in their emergency supplies.
There are some effective, low tech approaches to dealing with contaminated municipal sources, including:
- Straining through a coffee filter, clean cloth or paper towel to remove sediment
- Boiling for at least a full minute if you have the means
- Using about 16 drops of unscented bleach per gallon to disinfect the water
- Distilling by boiling and capturing what condenses out as it cools.
None of these approaches are fool proof. Employing a combination is the best method. Boiling and chlorination will help kill microorganisms, and distillation will help remove other contaminants. While effective, the process is time-consuming and will use up precious supplies of propane (or other fuel) that should be saved for cooking. The alternative is to have a water filtration system at the ready.
There are a number of different filtration systems that are commercially available for surviving at home. They offer an efficient way to provide a long-lasting supply of safe drinking water for your entire family in any situation.
Information about various systems is available online, and should be researched before deciding on one that fits your needs. Your choice will, of course, depend on budget, available space and the level of protection desired.
For removing contaminants, the EPA considers solid carbon block filters to be one the best. They are capable of removing sediments, chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, can reduces levels of lead and many harmless compounds that effect color and taste. Carbon filters will not remove hard-water materials like magnesium and calcium, or nitrates and are not capable of eliminating microbial contaminants. Specialized filters are available that will remove heavy metals.
Ultraviolet filters use ultraviolet radiation to kill pathogens but do not remove suspended solids or other contaminants. These systems are typically used in conjunction with others to effectively clean your water. UV filters are capable of deactivating cryptosporidium spores which are resistant to some decontamination treatments like chlorine.
Ceramic filters employ extremely small porous screening (down to the sub-micron size) which filter out microbes (including some bacteria) and suspended solids. Unfortunately, they are not effective for removing pesticides, fertilizers or petroleum-based contaminants. Gravity operated systems are available that do not rely on water pressure or electricity to operate.
Meeting your family’s needs during any given emergency is the key to survival. Maintaining an adequate supply of safe water is the first priority for any prepper. Employing a home filtration system for a sheltering in place situation that combines two or more of these methods will ensure your family has plenty clean drinking water to weather virtually any disaster.