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Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Fun with a Boil-Water-Alert!

Posted by Lissa on May 3, 2010

And of course by “fun” I mean “not very much fun at all.”

Apparently an aqueduct went boom and now the water coming out of our taps isn’t suitable for brushing our teeth, drinking, washing raw vegetables, etc. etc.  The local Starbucks was closed yesterday because the tap water can’t be trusted.  We can’t go to any restaurants around here because a) how are they going to wash their food? b) how are the workers going to wash their hands after wiping their arses?

Mike and I are doing our part to make sure this emergency ends quickly.

How are you doing that, Lissa? you ask.  Are y’all out there patching the aqueduct?

Don’t be silly, we don’t know nothin’ ’bout no aqueducts, say I.

No, Mike and I went outside the Boil-Water-Zone yesterday morning and picked up a SteriPen water sterilizer.  Along with four new plastic jugs (plus one that I already had), the Pen and a 34-oz Nalgene, we’ve UV-lighted enough water to have a pitcher in each bathroom for teeth-brushing, face-washing etc.; a pitcher in the fridge for drinking; and two pitchers next to the sink for basic washing of plates, utensils etc.  Everything that can be put in the dishwasher is going through the dishwasher with heated start and heated dry.

We even managed to pick up two more racks of water (we went to a WalMart outside the zone last night and got lucky — they’d just restocked).  Needless to say, getting water inside the zone was not really an option:

(As Mike pointed out, situations like these are when stores should think about raising their prices; what was “market price” during a normal period is substantially below “market price” during an emergency.  This shop was emptied out shortly before we got there; we watched people trundling out with ten cases of water and wondered how much was due to need, and how much was due to  “Well, it doesn’t expire, so better stock up!”  Of course, if you raised prices during an emergency around here you’d be arrested, drawn and quartered for price gouging.  Perhaps they should have made a “two per customer” limit, though.)

We were careful to eat lunch and dinner at restaurants outside the zone, where employees are presumably safe to wash their hands after using the litter box.  (And presumably doing so.)  My menu plan for the week substituted cantaloupe, pineapple and squash for our usual greens (since they don’t require washing).  I’m throwing a canned soup in my bag, along with extra bottles of water and hand sanitizer, since I can’t prepare my own salad and I’ve no idea if Ye Olde Financial Company will have stuff available.

As I said — we’re all set at home, and we’ve got enough portable stuff to make do at work also.  For days, if not weeks, if necessary.

And because we’re all prepped and set — the crisis should be over by tomorrow.

You KNOW that’s the way it works.

Happy Boiling, y’all!

P.S. I’m a little surprised Lissaville doesn’t have some sort of notification system for emergencies like this — you know, a blast message to local phones, etc.  We were notified by a friend.  When I showed up at the animal shelter yesterday some hadn’t yet gotten the news.

P.P.S. They’ve started chlorinating the water.  You can tell by the smell.  Mmmmm.

P.P.P.S. It’s hard to break the habit of turning on the tap to wash your hands.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you — this crisis is all my fault.

You see . . . Mike and I LOOKED at SteriPens at an EMS a few weeks ago.  I mentioned that I wanted something similar to put in my Zombie Invasion kit (when I finally put it together).  And then, because I haven’t started that kit yet . . . we didn’t buy it.

So, yeah, the crisis is all our fault.  And have I mentioned that God/Godddess/Shiva has a pretty effed-up sense of humor?

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6 Responses to “Fun with a Boil-Water-Alert!”

  1. you can still wash your hands and clothes with the tap water. Its essentially just filtered lake water. Just don’t swallow the stuff, or use it to clean anything you’ll be putting things you put in your mouth.

  2. Brad K. said

    I find it interesting they don’t boil water for livestock – or pets. Just think of the risk to poor Spot, slurping from the bathroom commode.

    You know, when I wash my hands, I call it “rinsing” if I don’t use soap. And when I use soap, I kind of count on the soap to handle “stuff” on my hands. For this event, I would think that would count for the stuff in the water, too.

    Perhaps the health department has reason to believe restaurant workers just rinse their hands to look like they washed them? Clean water in the taps won’t help that problem, much.

    When you look at this water event, I have to wonder. It seems I have been hearing news of preparedness and security about protecting water supplies in the Northeast. If this was a common breakdown – how did they plan on handling a deliberate bit of sabotage, where there was some persistent and really nasty contaminant – or seriously major breakage? Methinks that a lot of people had best dust off their preparedness plans, as long as our Commander-in-Chief is bent on dismantling the economy (an important part of national security; weakness invites barbarian adventurers) and ignoring military preparedness (deters barbarian adventure quests).

  3. wolfwalker said

    Brad, this was a major break. Accidental, not intentional, but still about as major a break as you can get. Two million homes and businesses affected.

    If this was a common breakdown – how did they plan on handling a deliberate bit of sabotage…?

    They don’t. They can’t. It’s one of those Nasty Little Facts that everyone involved knows, but nobody can really do anything about. We long ago passed the point where we could have useful, effective plans in place for major disasters that hit without warning.

  4. Dr. Feelgood said

    STERIPEN!

  5. Brad K. said

    Wolfwalker,

    Ever notice that President (General) Eisenhower designed the Interstate Highway system? That the highway symbol yet today is the defense shield?

    Recall your WWII/Europe strategies – they were always going for the choke points, the railroad and highway bridges, the sole rail line or airport used to move strategic materials. The US highway, and especially the Interstate highways, are intended to:
    1) Deny an enemy a single bridge or highway or rail line that could be cut, to isolate a region.
    2) Grow the economy as an essential element in avoiding or fighting a war.

    With a large number of people living off a single water source, maybe someone could, like, maybe build a separate water pipe maybe 20 miles away from the first? Maybe look for and add multiple water sources to the system? Maybe run drills, for contaminated or disrupted water, fuel, food, air quality, or combination denials? Maybe consider alternative ways of life immediately following an EMP that wiped all electric/electronic gear in a 20-150 mile radius?

    If your community or building has only a single source of water or electricity – is that good planning?

    We know about the national electricity grid. We know how there are multiple way to get electricity to my house, in case a neighbor drives through a pole and the lights go out, for a while, because they can cut out the bad line and my block will get electricity from another feeder. We also know there are regions where single squirrel can create a momentary charcoal conductor and shut down a few blocks or states. Is there a reason we don’t insist on two or three, redundant main lines? If nothing else, with one line, how are you planning for growth if you don’t have enough people stop making babies, or moving into the region, to make your wonderful single pipe inadequate in two years or twenty?

    How is your community planning on coping with the acknowledged shortfall in usable water, world wide and indeed inside the United States? Water table are falling in lots of areas, for folks depending on wells for water. Rainfall patterns are shifting about, for those depending on runoff and spring melt and rivers and springs. Ocean levels may also be changing, for those with desalination plants that depend on the water staying within five feet of where it is today.

    What is Homeland Security doing, if not strengthening the economy, assuring contingency plans are up to date, and single point failures aren’t allowed to remain without building backups and redundant sources? What is your city council doing about this demonstrated vulnerability – because, dear one, those with evil intent toward the US are surely watching the detailed news stories with glee in their hearts. Our problem today is a blueprint for their attack tomorrow.

  6. wolfwalker said

    Brad,

    No, it’s not good planning. I agree with you there. But that’s the way it is. Interstate highways or no interstate highways, we could no more supply Greater Boston with food and water after a major storm than we could evacuate Los Angeles after a major San Andreas earthquake.

    What is Homeland Security doing, if not strengthening the economy, assuring contingency plans are up to date, and single point failures aren’t allowed to remain without building backups and redundant sources?

    “Homeland Security” is a bunch of bloody bureaucrats running around trying to protect and add to their little paper-bound fiefdoms. Airline security remains a joke, border security is a joke, port security is a joke, emergency planning is a joke, and every attempt anyone has made to change that has been strangled by red tape and drowned in an ocean of contradictory rules and regulations.

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