Water is the most important resource after an emergency. Especially here in Southern California where we don’t have enough water to begin with. So after an earthquake what are the steps you should take to make this resource last as long as possible?
One of the first things to do after you establish the structure is safe and there are no immediate medical needs is to transfer any ice into zip lock baggies or containers which will not leak. If the electricity is down do this quickly so you do not let the temperature rise in your freezer. If you are able to transfer the ice to containers then this will become viable drinking water when it is melted.
Turn off the main water valve to your house because the water within your pipes is safe to drink and you do not want to contaminate it if there is a break in the water main or there has been a back flush due to power outages at pumping stations. If you do shut off the valve there will not be pressure typical of when you open a faucet and the water will likely trickle out. Find the faucet in your home which is the lowest. This may be a faucet outside your home for garden hoses.
Another good place to find water is within your water tank. Make sure the electricity or gas is shut off on the unit (even if the grid is down) then open the drain valve at the bottom to get water out. When the electricity comes back on and the water system has been proven safe make sure you refill the water heater before restoring power to it (hence the reason for killing the heating source before emptying the water during an emergency).
Do not use water from a heater system such as forced hot water or radiators.
Do not use water from toilet bowls and flush tanks. There is too much of a risk of contamination.
Do not use water from water beds, Fungicides and chemicals used to treat the water mixed with the leaching of chemicals from the venal of the bladder used to hold the water make it unsafe to drink.
Do not drink water from swimming pools and spas. Chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for drinking and cooking. This water is however, excellent for personal hygiene and cleaning pots & pans.