Helpful Guide to Water Safety and Outage Preparedness

DF SafetyEnvironmental Hazards

Access to clean and safe water is something many of us take for granted. However, when outages or shortages happen, it can often leave individuals scrambling to navigate what to do without this essential resource. Water outages can be caused by a natural disaster or other unpredictable emergencies, so it is important to be prepared. Read on to learn some tips and strategies to ensure your household has access to safe water.  

Before an Outage 

Having a proper plan and essentials available prior to an outage will make the situation much easier to navigate, while also ensuring you have what you need. Here are some tips to help you prepare before a safety outage or shortage: 

Stock up on water 

  • Store at least one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days. 
  • Keep additional water storage for pets and for sanitation needs. 

Create a water storage system 

  • Use food-grade water storage containers. 
  • Keep the containers in a cool, dark place to prevent bacterial growth. 

Prepare emergency kits 

  • Bottled water for drinking, cooking and hygiene (4 litres per person per day – gather more for pregnant women, those with illnesses and pets)  
  • Non-perishable food that doesn’t need water  
  • First aid kit  
  • Fire extinguisher  
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant cleaners  
  • Bucket for non-potable water (water that isn’t suitable for drinking or cooking) to flush toilets 

Stay informed 

  • Download apps like WeatherCAN, Alberta Rivers: Data and advisories and other alerting apps.  
  • Sign up for notifications and communications from your bulk water station/truck fill, water supplier, utility provider and local/provincial governments as information helps you make informed and timely decisions. 

“General guidance for water is 4 litres of water per person per day for 3 days; however, shortages can last longer. Store as much water as your storage space allows.”

Government of Alberta 

During an Outage 

Consider these tips to ensure you utilize water effectively and avoid finding yourself without essential water: 

Use water sparingly 

  • Conserve water by using it only for essential activities such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene. 
  • Don’t run appliances such as your dishwasher or washing machine. 
  • Use recyclable plates and utensils. 
  • Don’t water your lawn or flowers. Use rain barrels and follow instructions regarding a watering schedule if necessary. 

Purify your water 

  • Boil water for at least one minute to kill bacteria and viruses. 
  • Use water purification tablets or portable filters if boiling is not possible. 

Avoid contaminated water 

  • Do not use water from questionable sources without proper treatment. 
  • Be cautious of water that appears cloudy or has an unusual smell. 

Monitor updates 

  • Stay tuned to local news or notifications for updates on the water situation. 
  • Follow guidance from local authorities regarding water safety. 

After an Outage 

Once your water outage or shortage returns to normal, follow these steps: 

Flush system and test water 

  • Once the water supply is restored, run taps for a few minutes to flush out any stagnant water.  
  • If water is not running clear and cold, contact your water supplier or utility provider to discuss next steps. 
  • Follow any boil water advisories until local authorities confirm the water is safe. 

Restock supplies 

  • Clean and disinfect storage containers before refilling 
  • Assess your water storage and emergency supplies and replenish as needed. 

While emergencies and outages are not common, it is important to be prepared and understand what to do if one should occur. We hope these tips help ensure you know what to do before, during, and after a water outage or shortage.