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A Hurricane is Approaching, and You’ve Decided to Stay – Tips on How to Insure Your Water Supply is Safe to Use

Living in Florida it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to have to deal with an approaching hurricane.  As we have seen with the aftermath of Michael, Wilma and Irma, it can be days or even weeks before normal, safe and sanitary water service is restored.  We always urge people to heed the public safety warnings and evacuate but sometimes that isn’t possible.  If you must hunker down, it’s vital that you prepare for the aftermath and the likelihood water services may be compromised.  Here is what we recommend if you must remain in your home during a hurricane.

  1. Having a safe supply of water for drinking and cooking is paramount. Ideally, you’ve stocked up on bottled water, but that may not be enough.  You need to fill as many canteens, pitchers, and plastic jugs as possible.
  2. Because of the danger of contaminated water making its way into your home’s water system, you should turn off the main water valve coming in to your home.
  3. Also, turn off any valves leaving your home such as a sprinkler system or outdoor faucets.
  4. Your going to need water in order to flush toilets, as well as for cleaning dishes and bathing. Fill every available bathtub, sink or cooler.  This water should not be used for drinking purposes as sinks, bathtubs or coolers will not be sanitary.  If you must drink from this source as a last resort the water should first be disinfected/boiled to kill any bacteria.
  5. Your homes water heater can be used as an additional source of safe water and depending on its size will hold between 40 and 120 gallons of water. Turn off either the electricity or gas as you want to insure the heating element doesn’t come on when the tank is emptied.  You can easily draw water from a standard water heater from the valve located at the bottom of the unit.  Attaching a short hose to this valve will make it easier to dispense the water.
  6. While you’ve turned off the main water valve to your house, there will still be some water stored in your home’s pipes. This water will be safe to use for the first few days.  After that you will need to boil any water you draw from the pipes in your home.

What to do After the Storm Has Passed

Just because the storm is gone, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to turn on your homes main water supply.  As we’ve seen with past hurricanes, pumping stations, and other aspects of city water systems can be compromised or damaged.  Chemicals, bacteria, and debris could potentially enter the main system.  Once the systems have been inspected and repaired the local authorities will give an all clear that the water supply is now safe.

When you do get the “all clear” that it’s safe to use the city water system, “flush” your home’s water system by turning on all your faucets and running water for several minutes.  If you’ve sustained water damage to your home, open windows to allow your home to begin drying out.  Remove any items from the home like furniture or rugs that have been soaked.  Contact as many water removal companies as you can as there will be a long waiting list for these services.  Lastly, we hope you have flood damage insurance.  If so, contact your insurance company at the first opportunity to begin your claims process.

The experts at The Clean Plumber hope you never have to deal with the adverse effects of a hurricane.  But if you do find yourself having to “ride it out”, following these tips will improve your chances of minimizing the discomfort.