Store at least three gallons of water per person per day in your emergency supply kit.

  • Store water in tightly sealed, clean plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles or milk jugs.
  • Children, nursing mothers and sick people might need more water.
  • You will need more water in a warm weather climate.

Boiling Water

Do the following under a boil-water order:

  • Fill a large pot with tap water.
  • Strain the water through cheesecloth, a sheet, a coffee filter or other clean, porous material to remove as many solids as you can.
  • Bring the water to a rumbling boil and keep it boiling for at least 10 minutes.
  • Pour the water back and forth between two clean pots. This will add air to the water and make it taste better.
  • Let the water cool, then add eight drops liquid chlorine bleach for each gallon of water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes. If it gives off a slight chlorine smell and looks clear, it’s OK to use.

If you do not smell chlorine or the water is still cloudy, add an additional eight drops of liquid chlorine bleach and let it stand for another half hour. If you smell chlorine, it’s OK to use. If you have added bleach twice and the water still does not smell like chlorine, don’t use it for drinking or cooking. Make sure that any water you use has been tested and approved by the water supplier or health department.

Do not use scented or color-safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.


A well that has been submerged by floodwater should be disinfected before you drink, cook or wash with water from it.

In a flooded well, check for mud or clay particles. If the water is cloudy, the system should be flushed until the water clears. Then, disinfect the interior of the well and pumping equipment with a strong chlorine solution.

If there are no specific instructions from your local health department, do the following to purify your well water:

  • Open your faucets to pump the water out of your well. Let them run for at least 15 minutes or until you notice a drop in pressure.
  • Pour one quart of liquid chlorine bleach in the well and leave it for at least four hours. Do not use any water during this time.
  • Open all the faucets and let them run until you smell chlorine at each faucet.
  • Turn off the faucets and let the water sit in the pipes for two to four hours. Do not use any water during this time.
  • Flush out the system by running the taps until you can no longer taste or smell the chlorine.

Have your local health department test a sample of water from your well to ensure it is safe to drink.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund