In an emergency, certain necessities of life may be hard to come by, and you may need special tools to deal with unusual situations.
These are a few things you should consider putting your home emergency kit:
- photocopies of important records (credit and ID cards, deeds, property records, insurance policies, home inventory, birth certificates, marriage or divorce records, etc.)
- a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks
- medical necessities (medication, wheelchair and hearing aid batteries, contact lense solution, etc.)
- supplies for your pets (food, a leash or container, veterinary records)
- food and water for at least three days (including supplies for any pets). A good rule of thumb for water is one gallon a day per person.
- cooking necessities ( a can opener, paper plates and plastic utensils, etc.)
- portable, battery-powered, or hand-cranked radio
- extra batteries
- first-Aid kit and instruction book
- extra clothing
- pliers or wrench to turn off utilities
- local maps
- sanitation and personal hygiene items (moist towelettes, toilet paper, feminine, supplies, garbage bags)
- fire extinguisher
Keep your supplies (particularly food) in air-tight plastic bags, and keep your complete emergency kit in one or two closeable, easily portable containers (such as a camping backpack, duffel bag, ice chest or unused trash can with a lid). The kit should be stored in a cool, dry place that will be easily accessible in an emergency. Review your emergency kit at least once per year. Make sure that everything is still fresh and in working order, and update it if your family needs have changed.
Emergency supplies are important, but sometimes a little knowledge is more valuable than anything you might have in your emergency kit.
Here are a few tips for making sure your “knowledge kit” is in order:
- Find out what kinds of disasters can strike your home. Has there ever been a flood where you live? A mudslide? A major earthquake?
- Learn the danger signs. Do you know how to tell when storm drains are overflowing? Or, how to find out if a fire is close enough to endanger your home.
- Learn first aid, CPR, and how to operate a fire extinguisher.
- Talk to experts. Do you know how to shut off your gas and electricity? Because building standards vary, you should consult an expert to find out what action to take in your home.
- Develop a plan of action. Together with your family, decide what you would do if disaster struck. Make sure your plan includes escape routes and a means of staying in contact, and that everyone has all the information they need (where supplies are stored, how to shut off the gas, etc.).
After a disaster, it’s critical that you have water on hand in case the water normally provided by PUB is unavailable.
Use these guidelines to decide how much water you should set aside for use in an emergency:
- As a general rule, you need at least one gallon of water per person per day (half a gallon for drinking; half a gallon for cooking and cleaning).
- This amount will vary depending on age, activity, physical condition and diet.
- If it is hot, you will need more water. Double the normal amount if it is very hot.
- Children, nursing mothers and sick people require more water.
- Some additional water should be on hand for medical emergencies.
There are several ways you can make sure your emergency water supply stays fresh:
- Purchase commercially bottled water, keep it sealed, and replace it after its “use by” date.
- Purchase a food-grade water-storage container from a camping supply store, thoroughly clean and rinse it, and fill it with water in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Store your water in a cool, dry place. If you are not using commercially bottled water, replace it every six months.
- Empty large plastic soft-drink bottles (not milk or juice containers because they may promote bacterial growth), thoroughly clean and rinse them, sanitize them with household chlorine bleach (one teaspoon of unscented bleach to a quart of water, swished in the bottle so it touches all surfaces), rinse thoroughly with warm water, and fill to the top with tap water. Add two drops of unscented liquid chlorine bleach. Seal tightly using the original cap, being careful not to touch the inside with your fingers. Write the date on the outside of the bottle and store out of direct sunlight.
After a disaster, if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, or if officials advise you of a water problem, you may want to shut off your water to prevent tainted water from getting into your home. Turning off your main shut off valve also prevents a broken water line from draining your toilet tanks and hot water heater.
Note that the house shut off valve is not the valve located at the street right of way or inside the meter pit, that valve can only be turned off by PUB personnel. The house shut off valve should be located inside the structure near where the water service line enters the structure.
Here are some tips for managing water in a disaster:
- Never ration water unless authorities recommend doing so, and never drink less than a quart of water a day.
- Don’t drink cloudy or otherwise contaminated water from a faucet, stream or pond without treating it first, unless you are at risk of dehydration.
- Don’t drink soda or alcohol instead of water.
- To use the water in your pipes after your water is turned off, completely open the lowest faucet in your home and capture water as it trickles out.
- To use the water in your hot water tank, turn off the electricity and/or gas, open the drain at the bottom of the tank, turn off the water intake valve, and turn on the hot water faucet. Be sure to refill the tank before turning it back on.
- You can also get drinkable water from melted ice and liquids from canned goods.
- Never drink water from radiators, hot water boilers, water beds, toilets, pools, or spas.
If you need to report a main water line or utility service line break or a sewer backup, please contact 304.424.8535 during normal business hours. After hours and weekends for water call 304.424.8532, or for sewer call 304.424.8538.
Why was I advised to boil my water?
You may be asked to boil your tap water during an emergency or other situation, such as:
- A water main break or repairs
- If the water pressure drops due to equipment failure or power outages
- If tests show that potentially harmful microorganisms may be present in the water
- If the water source has been flooded
- During other situations that warrant special action to protect the public’s health
How does boiling make my tap water safe?
Boiling the water kills microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or protozoa that can cause disease. Boiling makes the tap water microbiologically safe.
How long should I boil the water?
Bring tap water to a full rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using.
Can I boil water in the microwave?
Tap water can be boiled in the microwave (in a microwave-safe container), provided that the water reaches a full rolling boil for one minute. Place a microwave-safe utensil in the container to keep the water from superheating (heating above the boiling point without forming steam or bubbles).
Do I have to boil the tap water used to make beverages?
Yes. Boil all of the tap water you use for making coffee, tea, mixed drinks, Kool-Aid, or any beverage made with water. In addition, all tap water used for making ice for consumption must be boiled.
Should I boil the tap water used to make baby formula?
Yes. Only use boiled tap water or bottled water for mixing formula for your baby.
Do I need to boil water before using it to wash vegetables that will be eaten raw?
Yes. Boil all of the tap water you use for washing raw vegetables.
Should I boil the tap water used in cooking?
All tap water used in cooking must first be boiled for one minute, unless the cooking process involves boiling for one minute or more.
Do I have to boil my dish-washing water?
No. Adding a tablespoon of unscented, household bleach, such as Clorox, to a sink full of tap water should be sufficient to treat the water used for washing dishes. Bleach should also be added to the water used for rinsing dishes. Allow dishes and utensils to air dry before reuse.
You may wash dishes in an electric dishwasher, but be sure to use it with its heating elements turned on. After washing in an electric dishwasher, dishes should be rinsed in water with a tablespoon of bleach added, and allowed to air dry before reuse.
Should I boil tap water before brushing my teeth?
Yes. Any tap water that might be swallowed should be boiled before use.
Is it necessary to boil water to be used for hand washing? Is any special soap necessary?
Yes. It is necessary to boil the tap water used for washing hands; however, no special soaps are necessary.
What about my bath water?
It is recommended that you boil water for bathing or showering. If you do not boil water for bathing or showering, care should be taken to avoid getting water in the mouth or swallowing the water. Infants and toddlers should be sponge bathed with boiled water which has been allowed to cool. No special soaps are necessary. Care should be taken to prevent tap water that has not been boiled from getting into deep open or post-surgical wounds. Consult your physician or healthcare provider for wound care instructions.
Do I need to use boiled water for washing clothes or flushing the toilet?
Do I still have to boil tap water if I have a water treatment device?
Yes. Devices designed to improve the taste, odor, or chemical quality of the water, such as activated carbon filters, will not remove harmful microorganisms from the tap water. Boil the tap water to make sure it is safe.
Can I use bottled water instead of boiling tap water?
Yes. Bottled water can be used for all of the situations where boiled tap water is recommended in this brochure. Be sure that the bottled water is from a reliable source.
Can I haul water from my neighbor’s well or spring for drinking purposes?
No. You should only use water from an approved, tested source. Without routinely testing the water there is no way to know if the water is safe to drink.
Should I boil the tap water I give my animals or pets?
You can boil the tap water you give to the animals in your care. Your veterinarian can tell you if this precaution is necessary.
What should I do if I become sick?
See your family physician or healthcare provider. Your doctor may call the West Virginia Office of Environmental Health Services 304.558.2981 for information about the boil water notice. Your doctor should notify the local health department if he or she suspects your illness was caused by microorganisms in the water.
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants. People with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be at greater risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their healthcare providers. Guidelines on ways to reduce the risk of infection from microbiological contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791.
How will I know when it is safe to drink my tap water?
You will be notified when tests show that the tap water is safe to drink. You may be asked to run water to flush the pipes in you home before using your tap water or be given other special instructions. Until you are notified, continue to boil all tap water for one minute before use.