BY ALLISON KOZICHAROW; EDITED BY BERNICE BORN

We read often about countries in low-resource regions facing a life-threatening shortage of clean drinking water. People die of dehydration, contract water-borne diseases and suffer from an extreme version of what nearly all of us have experienced at one time or another: thirst.

 

Simple, low-cost water treatments can greatly improve the quality of stored water and reduce the risks of diseases that cause diarrhea and death.

We have been reminded during the past several weeks that the lack of clean drinking water is not a problem confined to underserved countries, but is rising as a concern in the American Midwest, where floods have contaminated the drinking water of many thousands of people. Residents are being asked to boil their water or to treat it somehow, because drinking water contaminated with biological agents can make us sick. Getting sick, especially during such trying times as mass flooding, where medical resources are stressed to the limit, can be life-threatening.

 

Simple, low-cost water treatments can greatly improve the quality of stored water and reduce the risks of diseases that cause diarrhea and death. As we noted, it is becoming increasingly clear that knowing how to purify water can be valuable to everyone — rural and urban dwellers, people in industrialized and in low-resource regions alike.

 

Some might think they need filters and holding tanks and other sophisticated equipment to treat water. They don’t. The process is simple and uses items most people can find around their homes. So, they have what they need, they just have to know how to use it.

 

WiRED International’s newly revised Water Treatment Module educates people on methods to make water drinkable. Procedures generally include two steps: sedimentation (removing sediment) and disinfection (using a chemical or heat or sunlight). The module takes only a few minutes to review; its lessons offer basic knowledge that everyone who drinks water should know whether living in an economically developed country or not.

 

Related factors

 

The frightening truth is that most scientists believe climate change is adversely impacting our water supply through extreme and unpredictable weather. Globally, 90% of all natural disasters worldwide are water-related. Floods, landslides, tsunamis, storms, heat waves, cold spells, droughts and waterborne disease outbreaks are all becoming more frequent and more intense.

 

The U.S. Midwest is experiencing devastating floods this spring. Water scarcity and contamination are immediate issues, and people are being told to boil their drinking water. Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center, said, “[2019] is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season [in the U.S.], with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities.”

 

Another weather-related event, Cyclone Idai, just struck Southern Africa a few days ago with horrific destruction and loss of life. Survivors are now facing contaminated water sources and are at increased risk of diseases such as malaria, typhoid and cholera.

 

Review WiRED’s Water Treatment Module so that you know how to create clean drinking water if you ever face the conditions now confronting millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.

World Water Day took place on March 22. WiRED urges everyone to consider how precious clean and abundant water is to our health and to our environment. Then we urge you to spend a few minutes in basic survival training: Review WiRED’s Water Treatment Module so that you know how to create clean drinking water if you ever face the conditions now confronting millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.

 

 

 

 

Quiz Taken from WiRED’s Water Treatment Module

1. Sedimentation is ______________________.

 a. a process using gravity to remove or reduce suspended solids from water
 b. an approach to purifying water that kills all germs
 c. a way to improve the taste of contaminated water
 d. a chemical reaction that creates water in which germs cannot live

2. Select the three ways to disinfect water: (multiple answers)

 a. Boiling
 b. Sun (SOLIS)
 c. Chemicals (bleach)
 d. Sedimentation
 e. Refrigeration

3. For how long should you boil water to kill the germs?

 a. At least 3 minutes
 b. 25-30 seconds
 c. 60 seconds administration
 d. At least 1 hour
 e. It really doesn’t matter

4. SODIS means:

 a. Solar disinfection
 b. Soda water (with bubbles)
 c. Semi-clean water
 d. Simple water cleansing technique

 

 


You can download the module mentioned in this story, and all 400+ of WiRED’s health modules, through WiRED’s Health Module Access Program (HealthMAP) by clicking here. This easy-to-use free program will enable you to create your own customized collection of health learning modules. You can learn more about HealthMAP through WiRED's animation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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