Liquid Lunch Probably Won't Help You Survive Hurricane Irene, Scientists Say
| August 24, 2011 | 7:05am
If the impending threat of a deadly monster doomsday storm such as Hurricane Irene isn't enough of a buzzkill, the Centers for Disease Control has shared additional sobering information with Clean Plate Charlie.
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As it turns out, booze won't prevent you from getting sick if you mix it with bad drinking water -- which might be the only water coming out of the pipes during and after a storm.
Contrary to alcoholic fairly common belief, adding wine, beer, or liquor to water is not a surefire way of killing gut-rotting microbes, no matter the proportion. Some survival-minded types claim that adding one cup of alcohol to one to four cups of water will do the trick.
But the people who study those crazy germ things for a living assure that this is not the case.
Sadly, "CDC does not recommend wine or whiskey for purification," Brittany D. Raines, a CDC spokeswoman, tells Clean Plate Charlie.
Here's what the CDC and other emergency-minded folk recommend instead:
1. Stash Bottled Water
Much like a squirrel hiding its winter acorns in the recesses of an oak, you should think way ahead about your water consumption needs and stock up on at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and food prep. CDC recommends, however, that you keep three to five gallons of water on hand per person per day, so that you can wash dishes, bathe, and brush your teeth. (Because a storm doesn't mean that you just, like, let yourself go and stuff.)
2. Stash Bleach, Because You Did Not Buy Bottled Water
This tip is kind of gross-sounding, but it will also do the trick fairly well. If you forgot to buy bottled water (or were too hungover to get to the store in time to buy some because, hey, you are that person who actually though booze would purify water in the first place), you can use household bleach to purify water. First, make sure that you're working with a 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite bleach, which is the common kind. If the water is clear, add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach to each gallon. If the water is cloudy, double that. Wait 30 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
3. Boil Water
It's possible that you won't have power poststorm, but if you do, boiling water is the best way to stay virus-, bacteria-, and parasite-free. Bleach -- and its chemical pals, chlorine and iodine tabs -- isn't as foolproof a way to kill everything as bringing the world's most abundant substance to a rolling boil for a minute. Of course, let the water cool before drinking it, because a gaping mouth burn could probably get infected with something flesh-eating, especially during less-than-sanitary, poststorm conditions.
If you decide to bottle your own water prestorm, clean out the containers with a water-bleach mix beforehand. Also, don't store your DIY bottled water for too long, because it can taste stale and breed bacteria. Experts also recommend that you run tap water through a coffee-filter poststorm too. And if you're really hard up for hydration, your water heater faucet and toilet tank are OK starting points, but waterbeds are not. And just to clarify, toilet bowl water is only safe for pets -- never, ever for human consumption.