© 2013 by Gilpin County Sheriff's Office

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Water Safety

If you're not sure whether water is pure, do not drink it or use it to cook, wash dishes, brush teeth, or make iceuntil you purify it. Contaminated water may smell and taste bad and it can also contain microorganisms that cause Dysentery, Cholera, Typhoid, and Hepatitis. There are many ways to treat water. None are perfect, but a combination of methods is often best. Before treating water, let suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through layers of clean cloth. The following three treatment methods are most effective. Although all three methods kill micorbes, only distillation will remove contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, chemicals, and radioactive fallout.

Boiling is the safest way to treat water and kill harmful bacteria/parasites. Simply bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute or more.

Chlorination uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms such as bacteria. Add six drops (1/8 tsp.) of unscented liquid bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.

Distillation involves boiling water and collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. Tie a cup to the handle of the lid so that the cup hangs right side up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup isn't dangling int he water). Boil for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid to the cup is distilled.

How to Store Water

Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass, or enamal-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool location.

Unsafe Indoor Water Sources

  • Radiators, hot water boilers, and heating systems

  • Waterbeds. Fungicides added to the water of chemicals in the vinyl make water unsafe to drink

  • Swimming pool and spa chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking, but can be used for personal hygiene and cleaning

Outdoor Water Sources

If you need to find water outside your home, use these sources after purifying them:

  • Rainwater

  • Streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of water

  • Ponds and lakes

  • Natural Springs

  • Melted Snow