How to Choose a Water Treatment System for Emergency Preparedness

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The electric grid has just gone down in your entire state. Without electricity, the water treatment facilities stop working and the state issues a “Boil Alert” telling everyone to boil their water before drinking.

You boil your tap water and are safe, right?

Well what if the same event that caused the grid to go down also caused mass amounts of chemicals from a nearby factory to leak into the ground?

Or what if the tap water isn’t even running anymore and you’ve got to drink flood water from outside?

Would boiling work in these emergencies?

There are so many different types of emergencies that could occur – and the way to treat water is different in each of these emergencies.

If you are still unfamiliar with treating water, I suggest you first read this post about The 9 Water Purification Methods: What They Treat and their Pros/Cons.

Once you read that, you can use the following graphic to help you choose which water treatment system you need.

Guidelines for Choosing an Emergency Water Treatment SystemGuidelines-for-Choosing-a-Water-Treatment-System


The Reasoning Behind These 6 Steps

1. Away from an Urban, Industrial or Agricultural Area

If you don’t live in one of these areas, then there likely aren’t any organic chemicals or inorganic chemicals.  However, there may be bacteria, parasites, or protozoa.  These can be treated with filtering or boiling water.

2. You Live in an Area at Risk of Organic Chemical Contamination

The only (practical) way to get out the chemicals which may come from agricultural or industrial contamination is with a carbon filter using activated charcoal.

A carbon filter won’t get out bacteria, parasites, or protozoa though, so you’ll also need to filter or boil the water.

3. Benzene in the Water

Benzene spills could occur in many areas where there are lots of vehicles or industry.  You’ll need the carbon filter to get out the benzene chemicals.  If this has happened, you might also have viruses in the water.

Filtering won’t remove viruses, so you’ll need to boil the water or use a chemical treatment (such as bleach)

4. You Have Off-Grid Power and a High Budget

Reserve osmosis filters and distillation systems treat almost all types of threats which might be in water (though they don’t always remove organic chemicals).  However, these water treatment systems require energy and/or a big budget, so they aren’t practical for most people.

5. You Live Near a Nuclear Facility

You are probably screwed if a disaster strikes the nuclear facility, but a good ion exchange system, distillation system, or reverse osmosis system could remove some of the radionuclides.

6. You Are Planning On Bugging Out

Since you already plan on getting away from the disaster zone, you’ll probably be fine with just a water filter and/or a way to boil water.  Water purification tabs are an option too, but they run out eventually.

For an extremely in-depth look at survival water see this post

What emergency water treatment method do you have?  Do you think it will be enough?  Join us in our Facebook group for more prepping talk and tips!

Image Credit

Theres something in the water” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by

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