Preparing for water emergencies

Store enough bottled water to have one gallon per person per day for at least three days, as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  • Store bottled water for use by pets if you have them.
  • Bottled water should not be used after the expiration date, because of the potential for bacteria to grow in the water over time. However, expired water can be marked “Not Drinking Water” and saved for purposes such as flushing toilets.
  • After use, bottles should be recycled or reused.

You can flush a toilet with a tank once when water service is off.

  • If you have a toilet without a tank or if the tank is empty, you can flush the toilet by pouring 1 to 2 gallons of water into the bowl. You can use a container such as a bucket to pour the water.
  • If possible, flush with non-drinking water such as water from a creek, pond, rain barrel, well (if you have access to one), etc.
  • If advance notice is given, before a water shortage/emergency or service interruption, you may wish to save several gallons of water in a bath tub or containers for flushing. We recommend marking containers as “Not drinking water” so you can store them for an extended time.
  • Flush only when necessary.
  • You can flush with gallon jugs of bottled water if necessary, but do not use bottled water if it is or will likely be in short supply. In an emergency, bottled water is needed most for drinking, cooking and hygiene.

We strongly recommend that you sign up for OC Alerts (if you have not already) so you can receive emergency messages from Orange County, the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill and OWASA by phone, e-mail and text. 

Also, please contact us at 919-968-4421 or when you change your phone number, e-mail address, etc.

Preparing for emergencies involves more than water. For overall information from Orange County Emergency Management on building a kit and making a plan, please click here.

Residents and businesses may wish to check their insurance policies to understand the scope of coverage and to consider the costs and benefits of adding coverage. For example, businesses may wish to consider coverage for interruption of operations.

For more information, please click here or contact us at 919-968-4421 or