As the holiday season approaches, many of us struggle to find gifts for the friends and family members who already have everything. Have you considered giving things that will help the most important people in your life be more prepared for emergencies? In this series of posts, DEM looks at the best preparedness-related gifts that our staff and volunteers have given, received, or bought for themselves.
Why It’s Useful: Reduces the risks of using emergency water sources.
Price Range: $20 to $100+ depending on features and treatment capacity.
Where to Buy: Camping/outdoor outfitters; home goods retailers also carry some smaller-capacity filter bottles.
Don’t Forget: Containers to hold treated water; batteries for systems using UV light.
When we asked our CERT members to submit suggestions for this gift guide, water treatment systems were by far the most-recommended item. It’s easy to understand why. Clean water is critical for drinking, cooking, hygiene, and cleanup. Many urban disasters have the potential to interrupt a municipal water supply. In the backcountry or on a remote rural road, even a relatively minor injury or accident can strand you far from reliable water sources.
We recommend storing a minimum three-day supply of water in your home emergency kit and a separate supply in your car kit. If an emergency runs longer than three days, however, or if your storage containers are damaged, you may need to replenish your supplies before normal water service is restored. In this situation, it’s good to have a method for treating water drawn from sources that would otherwise be questionable.
Like some of the other gear we’re featuring in this series, most personal water treatment devices are built for the camping and hiking market. These systems include both water filters and water purifiers. Filters strain out physical contamination such as dirt or sand. They also trap bacteria and larger microorganisms, and those with carbon elements also will trap or neutralize some chemicals. Purifiers use chemical reactions to kill microorganisms, including viruses, which are too small for filters to stop. These chemical reactions come either from treatment chemicals (e.g., iodine) or from ultraviolet light. The most effective systems combine both filtration and purification.
Water treatment devices come in several different configurations. The smallest “survival straws” are tubes that allow a single person to sip directly from a water source. Larger filter systems move water through the filter by use of a hand pump or gravity. For a much more detailed breakdown of the different personal water treatment technologies and their advantages and disadvantages, see this article at Recreational Equipment, Inc. (full disclosure: REI is a retailer of these systems, but we’ve found their educational articles to be well-written and have not detected any editorial bias).
Disclaimer: The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and the LFUCG Division of Emergency Management do not endorse any goods, services, vendors, or service providers mentioned in our blog posts, social media statements, press releases, or website content. Any mention of commercial products is for informational purposes only.