Can I eat this?
May 20, 2013 1:12 PM   Subscribe

How to ensure food and drink water safety during a flood or other natural disaster, courtesy of the FDA and the USDA.
posted by MartinWisse (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

Sweet, the USDA has provided us with a catchy answer for desperate relationship and food askmes.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:32 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


If the fridge a-quits, you get the shits!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:40 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm glad this is out there. I've already thought through (and used) my emergency plans, but lots and lots of Americans haven't done much planning or even thought about the what ifs*. These documents are, mostly, for those folks.

* So before Hurricane Sandy, I called my mom to see if she was ready. She told me that she had put some water in the bathtub. Um, batteries? Flashlights? Easily prepared foods? Bottled water? Coolers? She had none of the above. She pooh-poohed my extensive preps. But she would have benefited from having this info laid out in one place, in step-by-step fashion, easily followed in time of emergency. Sigh/argh.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:47 PM on May 20, 2013


Psh, why read these now? I'll simply bookmark and then access them via the Internet once a cataclysmic disaster strikes.
posted by resurrexit at 1:49 PM on May 20, 2013 [18 favorites]


You joke, but in fact, I have several emergency preparedness eBooks downloaded from the Internet to my smartphone. I have books to reference at my home, but my smartphone is always with me. So I also have hand crank phone rechargers in my car.

So after you bookmark these, download them. Keep the information with you. You should read it first, but it will still help to have it available when you need it.

The more you know.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


NOVA scienceNow: Can I Eat This?
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:57 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


So before Hurricane Sandy, I called my mom to see if she was ready. She told me that she had put some water in the bathtub.

I have a vague memory of seeing a Civil Defense film back in the 60s. It said in an emergency, you can drink water from the top tank of a toilet. I hope I'm never that desperate.

My own city's water purification plant was damaged in a flood and part of it has never been repaired. I remember when water came back on after the flood, it had so much chlorine in it, it burned my skin when I took a shower. I won't drink the tap water, I have to go to the store and buy filtered water for 29 cents a gallon.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2013


One recent tip I read -- which is so obvious, but which I'd never thought about -- is that if you run out of water, you can start taking water from your hot water heater. Standard units hold 40 gallons.

Survival skill: Learn how to drain your particular hot water heater, if you don't already know how to.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:30 PM on May 20, 2013


But then what about hot showers??
posted by gottabefunky at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2013


We're presumably way past that point, Captain Eponysterical.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:00 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Survival skill: Learn how to drain your particular hot water heater, if you don't already know how to.

Also, drain your hot water heater at least once a year. An older hot water heater will have quite a collection of rust and sediment built up, and since the drain is at the bottom of the tank, may cause some of the water to be less than palatable. You can still use the water if you filter it (well) first, but an ounce of prevention and all. Why waste all that water when you need it?

Or, if you're in a location that has regularly scheduled weather related disasters or water issues (contamination, etc.), consider investing in a good camping/survival water purifier/filter. I have a Berkey, but that's probably overkill for many regions (I live in a serious Earthquake zone and have family in the immediate area that I might have to provide for).
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:12 PM on May 20, 2013


charlie don't surf: "I have a vague memory of seeing a Civil Defense film back in the 60s. It said in an emergency, you can drink water from the top tank of a toilet. I hope I'm never that desperate."

Assuming your water is potable in the first place this is perfectly safe (assuming you don't open it up to find a mouse floating in the tank or something) and shouldn't squick you out more than using water out of a sink.

But really the solution is to store potable water. Water is cheap and it doesn't go bad for years. If you can't afford to accumulate a stock pile of commercial bottled water then you can use most food safe bottles to store water (I think current guidelines recommend not using milk bottles because of the difficulty in properly cleaning them). Glass is less than ideal in earth quake country for obvious reasons.
posted by Mitheral at 9:33 PM on May 20, 2013


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