What Are the Steps for Emergency Water Purification?

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If you're not absolutely sure your drinking water is safe, you may be able to purify it using a heat source and simple household bleach. Boiling and disinfecting water can kill biological contaminants and prevent illness. However, this process does not remove chemical contaminants, so if you suspect other pollutants you should avoid drinking the water entirely.

  1. Pour the water into a clear container

    Check for any floating dirt or debris in the water. If you take the water from a stream, for instance, it may be cloudy with silt. Let the water sit in the sun for one to two hours both to let it settle and allow the sun's ultraviolet rays to begin disinfecting the water.

  2. Boil the settled water

    Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Let the water reach a full boil and remain there for three to five minutes. This kills any pathogens present in the water. Pouring the water back and forth between two vessels as it cools can help re-aerate it and quicken the cooling process.

  3. Add bleach

    Once the water cools, add five drops of chlorine bleach to each quart of water. This helps disinfect the water further and prevents bacteria from regaining a foothold during storage.