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In an Emergency: Alternatives to bottled water


    Shoppers at Don Quijote loaded up on cases of water Wednesday.

With Hurricane Lane approaching and retail shelves around Oahu rapidly emptying of bottled water on Wednesday, many would-be preppers were left to consider alternative means of ensuring an ample supply of clean water.

The Honolulu Department of Emergency Management and other disaster preparation and response agencies have been advising residents keep a 14-day supply of food and water throughout the current 2018 Pacific hurricane season, advice that those previously unmoved by Hurricane Hector’s approach two weeks ago acted upon with fresh urgency over the last couple of days. By midday Wednesday, many convenience stores, supermarkets and even big-box retailers had run out of bottled water.

Yet while bottled water is favored because of its sterile packaging and long-term (about six months) storage capacity, there are other ways for residents to maintain access to clean water should regular water service be interrupted or compromised.

In advance of any service interruption, residents can store water in clean, food-grade storage containers. If food-grade containers are not available, other types of containers may be used as long as they can be sealed tightly and have not previously been used to store toxic chemicals.

Containers should be washed thoroughly with soap and water then rinsed in a mild bleach solution (one capful of mild household chlorine bleach per gallon of water). The container should be rinsed again in clean water or air dried prior to being filled.

The Board of Water Supply recommends filling the container to the top to minimize the amount of air between the water and the cap. A capful of liquid bleach may be added per gallon of the stored water to ensure it is clean. Filled containers should be stored in a cool, dark place.

Water may be stored in an empty bathtub, but only for a relatively short duration and only for non-drinking purposes as the water is open to contamination.

In the event of a power outage, the BWS advises residents to keep water use to an absolute minimum as all BWS pumps require electricity to operate and an outage limits BWS’s ability to pump water out of wells and other sources.

“Until power can be restored, the water left in your community’s reservoirs will be all the water that is available to you, so it is essential that residents use water sparingly — for drinking and sanitation only.

BWS may dispatch water wagons to communities that run out of water but officials caution that road conditions following a disaster may affect access.

In an emergency situation, water that may have been exposed to contamination may be sterilized via boiling (minimum 1 minute at a rolling boil) and/or liquid chlorine bleach.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 1/8 teaspoon of 5-6 percent liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water if the water is clear and a 1/4 teaspoon if it is cloudy. For 8.25 percent liquid chlorine bleach solutions, it recommends less than 1/8 of a teaspoon per gallon for clear water and approximately 12 drops (1 milliliter) a gallon for cloudy water.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, safe water can be reclaimed from sources inside the home, including hot-water tanks, pipes and ice cubes.

To use water held in pipes, FEMA advises, “let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.”

To access water in a hot-water tank, make sure electricity or gas is turned off then open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Next, turn off the water intake valve at the tank and turn on a hot-water faucet.

The tank should be refilled before gas or electricity is turned back on.

Water should not be sourced from toilet flush tanks or bowls, radiators, waterbeds or swimming pools/spas, FEMA advised.

If alerted to broken water or sewage lines, FEMA advises shutting off incoming water (by closing the main valve) to prevent water sources in the home from becoming contaminated.


The following closures have been announced in anticipation of Hurricane Lane:


>> All public schools statewide, including charter schools.

>> Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaii island, Maui and Molokai campuses.

>> All University of Hawaii campuses and system offices.

>> These private schools on Oahu that have announced they will be closed: Punahou, ‘Iolani, St. Francis School, St. Michael School, Damien Memorial School, La Pietra, Mid-Pacific Institute, Cole Academy, Hongwanji Mission School, Star of the Sea, Hawaii Baptist Academy, Maryknoll, and St. Andrew’s Schools.

>> The East-West Center’s Honolulu campus.

>> Hawaii Pacific University will close its campuses through Saturday. Oahu campus activities, including those on its downtown and Hawaii Loa campuses, the Oceanic Institute of HPU at Makapuu Point and all Oahu military base locations are canceled through Saturday. Residence halls at Aloha Tower and Hawaii Loa remain open and staffed.

>> Hawaii Medical College


>> All public libraries on Hawaii island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai are closed through Friday.

>> Bishop Museum will be closed on Friday and Saturday.

>> Iolani Palace will be closed for tours through Sunday, reopening Monday at 9 a.m. Guests with confirmed reservations will receive full refunds or the option to reschedule.

>> Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives.

>> USS Arizona Memorial.

>> Battleship Missouri Memorial.

>>Punchbowl Cemetery.


>> Honolulu Zoo.

>> Waikiki Aquarium.

>> Parks on Oahu, including beach parks island-wide starting Thursday, including Hanauma Bay. Camping permits are being retracted. Walk-in class registration for Fall Programs has been postponed for many park sites, including facilities from Aiea to Makaha and Wahiawa, and the windward and North shore sites.

>> Haleakala National Park summit and Kipahulu districts, including the Hosmer Grove Campgrounds. All cabin reservations through Friday have been canceled.

>> Puuhonua o Honaunau and Kalaoko-Honokohau national historical parks.

>> Camping and lodging in state parks across the state (except Kaua’i); overnight use of Kaena Point State Park; beginning Thursday night, camping in Kaua’i parks; state parks for Oahu and Kauai go into effect Thursday morning; Waianapanapa State Park on Maui; Nuuanu Pali State Wayside Park; Haena State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park remain closed due to flooding in April; All Division of Forestry and Wildlife lands, including forest reserves, natural area reserves, game management areas, wildlife sanctuaries, public hunting areas and Na Ala Hele trails.



>> All public school interscholastic events are postponed through Sunday, including eight varsity football games on Oahu on Friday and six on Saturday.

>> UH’s Rainbow Wahine Soccer Invitational is canceled. The games will not be rescheduled.


>> No trash pickup on Oahu Friday and Saturday. Bulky trash will be picked up through Thursday, and then be suspended Friday until further notice.

>> Hawaii island and Maui County courts and facilities through Friday.

>> The state Supreme Court extended filings and hearings scheduled for that period at 2nd and 3rd Circuit courts to Monday. Hearings canceled due to the closure will be rescheduled.

>> Oahu and Kauai courthouses will be closed Thursday and Friday.

>> Hawaii County transfer stations and landfills.

>> Maui residents with regularly scheduled Thursday trash pick-up should put their bins out on Saturday.

>> Department of Veterans Affairs Kona, Hilo, and the Maui Community Based Outpatient Clinic; Molokai VA Clinic, Leeward and Kauai CBOC; Spark Matsunaga VA Medical Center Ambulatory Care Clinic will be closed through Saturday.

>> Kauai County offices and the Kauai Department of Water offices.

>> Offices at the Hawaii State Legislature will be closed on Thursday and Friday.


>> On Hawaii island, there will be no mail delivery and all post offices will be closed on Thursday; no mail pickup from blue USPS boxes.

>> Maui county mail will be delivered but all post offices will be closed on Thursday; there will be no mail pickup from blue USPS boxes.

>> Oahu mail will be delivered and all post offices will be open on Thursday; mail will be picked up from blue USPS mail boxes.

>> Kauai mail will be delivered but all post offices will be closed on Thursday; there will be no mail pickup from blue USPS mail boxes.


>> Satellite city halls and driver licensing locations on Oahu are closed at least through Friday. Driver training and driver’s license appointments are suspended Thursday and Friday. The Department of Customer Services will be contacting those who had a road test cancelled in order to reschedule. A decision on Saturday appointments is pending.


>> Bikeshare Hawaii Biki service at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

>> Young Brothers sailings for the remainder of the week, and Young Brothers ports statewide will not be accepting cargo.


>> Catholic Charities Hawai’i offices statewide will close on Thursday and Friday. The Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center in Kalihi will also be closed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

>> Kaiser Permanente: Hawaii island clinics closed Thursday; Kihei and Lahaina clinics on Thursday, all other Maui clinics closed Friday; Maui Lani Medical Office, Maui Lani Elua Clinic, and Wailuku Medical Office will close at noon Thursday; all Oahu clinics open Thursday and close Friday; Lihue clinic closed Friday.

>> Child and Family Services on all islands.

>> YMCA of Honolulu branches closed and programs canceled.


>> American Savings Bank branches on Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and the UH-Manoa campus Branch will be closed on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Oahu and Kauai branches will close at 1 p.m. Thursday and remain closed on Friday.

>> Bank of Hawaii branches on Maui closed Thursday and Friday; On Oahu all branches and in-store branches will open from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday and close Friday; all five branches on Kauai will be open Thursday and close on Friday.

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