Water In Case of Emergencies

Disaster can hit anyone, anywhere! To ensure a safe water supply for your family, disaster experts advise these precautions.

  • Store a week's supply of bottled water for everyone in your family. Figure about 1 gallon of water per person per day.
  • Store containers of water in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Label bottles of water with the date. Replace them every six months to ensure freshness.

cooking or drinking. If you're sodium-sensitive, you won't have extra sodium in cold drinking water.

What about Bottled Water?

Do you carry a bottle of water? In recent years, consumption of bottled water has soared. The bottled-water industry began in the late 1950s, and by 2005 total annual sales for Americans was about 7.5 billion gallons. Except for soft drinks, people living in the United States drink more bottled water than any other beverage! With today's consumer demand, soft-drink companies have added bottled water to their line. The most common types include mineral water, purified water, sparkling water, spring water, and well water . . . plain or lightly flavored.

Since both tap and bottled water are safe, why drink bottled water? According to consumer research, some people prefer the taste. Bottled water usually doesn't contain chlorine, which can give water a slight flavor. It's convenient: portable for the office, a picnic, a drive, or a workout, and often easy to buy. Many people drink bottled water for what it doesn't contain: calories, caffeine, or alcohol.

About Bottled Water. Bottled water that's sold state to state is regulated by the FDA to assure its quality, safety, and accurate labeling. Terms on labels for bottled water, such as "spring water" or "mineral water," are defined legally. If bottled water comes from a municipal water supply, the label must state that fact, unless it's been processed to be purified water. By regulation, bottled water can't contain sweeteners or additives—besides flavors, extracts, or essences from food or spices (less than 1 percent by weight). And it must be calorie- and sugar-free.

Instead of chlorine, bottled water usually is disinfected in other ways, including filtration; reverse osmosis; ultraviolet (UV) light; or ozone, a highly reactive form of oxygen. See "Have You Ever Wondered?" later in this chapter for a briefbackground on water filtration systems. Depending on the method, bottled water may or may not be 100 percent pathogen-free. If you're at risk with suppressed immune function, talk to your healthcare provider to find bottled water that's pathogen-free.

Ever see "NSF-certified" or "IBWA Bottler Member" on bottled water labels? IBWA stands for International Bottled Water Association. These label statements indicate that a voluntary inspection, using standards set by the National Sanitation Foundation, was conducted with the water source and the finished product checked against FDA regulations. Safe water may not have a label since the inspection is voluntary. If you see "FDA-Approved" or "EPA-Certified," beware; neither agency conducts these inspections.

On bottled waters marketed for infants, you might see the term "sterile." That means the water meets the FDA's standards for commercial sterilization, so it's safe from bacteria. If not, the label must state that the product isn't sterile and should be used to prepare infant formula only as directed by a doctor or according to infant formula preparation instructions. For safety, follow that guideline. Look for fluoridated bottled water if your child or infant consumes only bottled water.

Consumer Tips for Bottled Water. If you like it, buy it. But know that you may pay 240 to more than 10,000 times as much per gallon for bottled water that's no more healthful than most United States' tap water.

From a nutritional standpoint, there's no significant difference, except that bottled water likely doesn't have as much fluoride. In large municipal water systems, either bottled or tap water is safe and healthful. In fact, some bottled water is tap water, reprocessed to change its taste and composition.

Some bottled waters may be a good beverage choice for those at high risk; see "Drinking Water: For Special Health Needs" on page 163. In places

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