Is Pool Water Safe to Drink in an Emergency?

When it comes to being prepared, it really is important to understand what is fact and what is fiction regarding water. For example, you can search for articles on whether pool water is safe or not on Google and get hundreds of answers that all vary slightly. Because water is such a key component of emergency prepredness, it is important to understand what is safe, and what will kill you.  It is also important to know the difference between water storage and water filters.

Water Storage and Water Filter

Water storage is the first line of defense in emergency preparedness.  Because water is more vital to you than food, it should take top priority.  Stored water will insure that you have safe water while municipal water sources are repaired and brought back on line.  Storing water will also reduce the need for you or your family to venture out into the streets after a disaster where it may not be safe.  There are various methods of storing water.  There are also some water stores that many believe will be available and safe in a disaster that are not safe.  Pools are a good example.

Pool Water as Potable Water in an emerency

There are tens of thousands of pools all over the United States.  Some statistics suggest there could be as much as 1 pool for every 10 households.  This would equate to something like 1,400 hundred gallons of water per family in the US.  But there is a misconception lurking on the internet that could mean a second disaster for you and your family should you decide to drink pool water.  Some believe that it is safe to drink pool water and that there is no need to store potable water.  This just isn't true.  Pool water is not safe to drink.  Pool water should be your very last choice before you dehydrate and die.
Pool water is treated by chemicals to keep it free of biological contamination and clarifiers to keep it looking crystal clear.  These chemicals are not healthy.  In fact, many pool service providers would never consider drinking pool water because of the safety concerns.  The average pool has about 4 ppm or parts per million of chlorine in it.  Average municipal water averages near or below 1 ppm.  So when you drink pool water, you are drinking a higher concentration of chlorine which is not healty..  There are many other chemicals used to treat a pool.  All of these chemicals are found in the water and will have an adverse effect on your health.
The other problem with pool water is that it is open to contamination.  Sure, you could throw a tarp or cover over the pool after a disaster and that will keep debris out and slow the rate at which UV light breaks down the chlorine in the pool, but eventually contamination is going overcome the pool.  And think about this... how many of your neighbors have a pool guy?  How many people would know how to test their pool and treat it after a disaster to keep the pool water from becoming even more dangerous over time?  If they did know how to treat their pool, would they have the supplies?  The bottom line is that you cannot depend on your pool for clean safe water after an emergency.  And if you can't count on your pool, then the question becomes, what can you depend on?  Water storage in closed containers.

Water Storage Types

There are many types of water storage, but safe water storage will always try to incorporate several key factors.  These factors are:
  1. Safe water storage should include a sterile container with the ability to be sealed from air.
  2. Safe water storage should include a container that prevents or significantly reduces light.
  3. Safe water storage should include treatment of the water to reduce biological growth in the container.
  4. Safe water storage should be placed in a cool shaded location out of the elements.
Safe water storage can be done in:
  1. 2 litre soda bottles that have been cleaned.  The dark ones are best.
  2. 5 gallon hard wall water carriers such as Sampson Stackers or boxed water.
  3. 15, 30, and 55 gallon water barrels with bung caps and siphon pumps.
  4. Large water bladders similar to those used by the military.