Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Water Purification
Originally published May 20, 2013

I have already confessed to being a gadget lover. Some gadgets are just that, gadgets. But I have just acquired a new “essential item” that you may want to add to your kit. I still get requests regarding storing sufficient quantities of water. I don’t need to tell you of the necessity of having enough water on hand. I can also tell you that logistically speaking, it is usually not very practical to store that much water in your closet. The Red Cross (www.redcross.org) and FEMA (www.ready.gov) suggest that you make storing water a priority. The amounts seem to be a bit of overkill until you actually have to dip into your supply. If you are reduced to gathering rainwater off your roof or dipping water from a creek, then it must be purified. Boiling or adding bleach will do the trick. Boiling is considered the best method. Bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute then allow to cool. Unscented household bleach is typically between 5 and 6 percent chlorine. Cloudy water should be filtered before boiling or “bleached”. Use ⅛ teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water and up to ¼ teaspoon if the water is cloudy or very cold.

I have noticed that several folks who depend on rain water, wells or springs, use an in-line, ultra-violet filter for purifying their household water. I won’t try to go into the technical description of how UV rays work, but they have been in use for purifying water for nearly 100 years. Ultraviolet filters are simple and effective, capable of killing 99.99% of germs, parasites and other illness-causing organisms.

Now for the gadget. This item is called a steriPEN. It is about the same size and shape as a regular screwdriver. There are batteries in the handle and the “blade” portion of the thing is actually an ultra-violet wand. The one I have came with a water bottle and a built-in filter for use on cloudy water. Fill a container with water, then simply insert the wand portion into the water, push the button on the handle and use a stirring motion while you wait. In less than a minute, the green light comes on, indicating your water is now safe to drink. Watertight seals keep moisture away from the electronics. The company claims to be able to purify 16 oz of water in approximately 48 seconds, while a 32 oz. container takes roughly 90 seconds. Cost varies from $50.00 up to the $200.00 range, depending on the model you choose. When’s the last time you visited a foreign country and felt comfortable drinking their water? Has your municipality issued a “boil your water” order lately? This item would be handy for any foreign travel and also whenever you had a question about your water. I carry mine in my get home bag in the event something happens and I have to spend unexpected time away from home. Check it out and see if this is something in which you might want to invest.

As always send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson