Don’t drink the water!

faucet final

If someone says that we can’t do something, what do we usually want to go right out and do?  If we are anything like my teenager, we want to go out and do that very thing.

In West Virginia, about 300,000 people were instructed not to drink the water because of a chemical spill that was found leaking into a nearby river.  Not only were they told not to drink it but they couldn’t wash with it or brush teeth or even cook with the contaminated water.  About the only thing it was good for is flushing toilets.  PHEW…at least we can flush the toilets, that’s a good thing.

But what about the drinking and washing and cooking.  What now?

After news of the ban was released, store shelves were cleared of all water very quickly.  There were altercations and some not-so-happy people.  Suburban moms and dads are certainly capable of turning into something else when they realize there is no water for their toddlers to drink.

Residents have no idea when this DO NOT USE order will be lifted.  They are told there will be distribution points around the city where they can come and fill containers and that bottled water is on the way.  For me, these water lines evoke visuals of people from far-away countries lining up with whatever container they can find in hopes of having something to drink.

water boil order distribution line

Thirsty people standing in a line waiting to fill their containers with water.

Do we really want to stand in that line.  Or would it be better to have gotten ready for such a possibility ahead of time?  If we aren’t reading this from West Virginia, then it’s “ahead of time” at this very moment…isn’t that convenient?

I’m sure the good-folks in West Virginia trusted their water system.  After all, day in and day out the water coming out of the tap was clean and good….Until it wasn’t.

These folks in Ireland probably didn’t think they’d be standing in water distribution lines either.

Girl waiting to fill water bottle during water shortageThey have the right idea….only just a little late.  The simple way to avoid this issue is to store water ahead for just such a crisis.   If we do that, it’s no longer a crisis for us.  It turns into an adventure…or if we aren’t so optimistic…merely an inconvenience.


Next time we finish off a soda or juice bottle we are going to do something a little different.  Usually we toss that bottle in the trash or hopefully the recycle bin.  Because we don’t want to be like the people in the pictures above we are going to do something different.  Instead of tossing it, we are going to wash out the bottle (with soap and water) and rinse it well and refill it with tap water…all the way to the top.  Then we are going to put it somewhere, out-of-the-way.  The water going in to these bottles is treated and ready to drink so you don’t have to add anything to it.  Just store this ‘water-crisis-repellant’ in the bottom of a closet or in the unused space in the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink.  While you’re at it, put a few in your car for emergencies too.


PETE bottleWe’re only doing this with bottles that have a “PET” or “PETE” stamped on the bottom.  Go ahead and toss or recycle your milk jugs, even if juice comes in them.  They won’t work.  Well ….they’ll hold water for a while then they’ll give it back to you in the form of a lovely leak all over the floor.  Those kind of jugs are made to degrade and break down in landfills  and they’ll do the same in our basements.

If you aren’t a soda or juice drinker, just ask around to your friends and neighbors because I’m sure one of them is and would be happy to pass on their empties to you.  Just tell them you are doing a recycling project.  Hey, it’s the truth.   You can repay them by sharing your stored water when the ‘crisis’ comes.

It’s a simple and free solution to a crisis that doesn’t have to be.

If you are at all concerned about drinking it when the time comes, just use a water filter and run it through before drinking.   There are a ton of different kinds.  I like the ceramic gravity fed ones that sit on the counter.  Berkey is a great brand, AquaRain is another.  You can also make the DIY version using your own buckets and the filter set up from  it’s called ‘Just water’. In addition to that, there are the Water Bottle sizes that are great for portability and personal emergency kits.

I hope that even though we’ll probably always have clean water gushing out when we turn on the tap, that we’ll still put some aside for that time when we don’t.

*On a side note, If I ever find myself in a water distribution line.   I hope it is something like this one in Sendai Japan after the Earthquake and Tsunami.  Such order and forethought with that squiggly path to manage the line.  Love it! It’s all right there and you can see what you’re getting into, nothing like the lines at Disneyland that look deceptively short and then you get inside and the forever-long serpentine continues but by then you’re committed and other unsuspecting guests have blocked you in from behind….but I digress.

Pardon me as I recover from that Disney tangent.  You can find more detailed info about bottle cleaning and water storage in this post.



  1. annastasia says:

    I feel really bad for them I want to help but I m only 11 by a fifth grader

    • annastasia says:

      crazy and I heard about that oil leak
      I feel really bad

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks for writing. It’s hard for us to see people in trouble when things like this happen and we want to do something but we don’t know what to do. You said that you are 11 and in the fifth grade. That’s great that you are reading this information and learning what you can do…and 11 year-olds can do A LOT to help get your family ready. ( I have an almost 11 year-old too ). You might not be able to help those people who have bad water but you CAN help get your family prepared so if something like this happens where you live, so your family will be ready with clean drinkable water. Just start with cleaning out your soda and juice bottles and filling them with clean water and store them in a safe place. Another thing you can do is to talk to your parents about getting more prepared. Ask them what they would do if something like this happened in your city or town. Talk to them about what would happen if the power went out for a while, ask them how you’d stay warm and how you’d cook. You want to get them thinking about these things now. Then they can get ready before it happens. Let me know if you need some more ideas about getting your family ready.

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