Emergency Water 101: Lesson 1
"The Real Threats To Our Water Supply"
Welcome to your first lesson at Emergency Water 101. This is a very important video. We're going to explain why our water supply is vulnerable and how dangerous that can be in an emergency. Turn off distractions, find a quiet place and listen carefully to this important information.
NEXT: Lesson 2
The transcript is below for your reference.
See my recommendations on how you should ensure the safety of your family's drinking water every day.
Hi. This is Glenn. Welcome to our first core training video. This one is really important. In this video, we discuss what can happen to your water supply in an emergency. You need to understand what can go wrong in a crisis situation and what the threats are to your family’s safety. We lay out exactly why safe drinking water will quickly become a top priority in an emergency, and we explain why you need to be knowledgeable and prepared. This is a very important video so please turn off distractions and give your full attention to this lesson. I’ll have a few notes for you when you’re done watching. Let’s get started.
I want to start with an obvious point, which is that we live in a noisy world. Everyday we’re bombarded with information and it’s our nature to pay attention to those who yell the loudest. But I want to talk to you about a topic that gets lost in the noise. I want to talk about safe drinking water and how fragile that supply can become when disaster strikes. Our lives depend on water—safe drinking water. We need to be aware of how quickly our lives can change when our drinking water supply becomes disrupted or contaminated.
Disasters can strike at any time. We’ve seen a number of disasters in recent times from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, as well as large earthquakes from New Zealand, to Ecuador, Hawaii, Nepal, and of course the massive 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan in 2011. That earth quack caused a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people, devastated northeast Japan, and triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant. Scientists believe that a big earthquake in the USA is not only inevitable, but overdue. Most people know the threat to Los Angeles and San Francisco, but an even bigger threat comes from a fault called the Cascadia Subduction Zone that runs from northern California, through Oregon, Washington and up through Vancouver. This fault has considerably more power than the San Andreas Fault and scientists say it could cause the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.
Disasters happen without notice. When something happens that takes people by surprise, what’s the first supply that people scramble to get? Of course, it’s bottled water. It flies off grocery store shelves, and it’s the first thing that people scream for from FEMA. Why is this? Because we take water for granted. Safe drinking water is so plentiful in the US that we simply turn on the faucet and drink the tap water without a second thought. Or we go to any gas station and by a bottle of water. Or we can go to Starbucks and get coffee made with tap water. We never think about our water. We all, to a person, take safe drinking water for granted, and this puts at us risk.
When an emergency strikes and you don't have access to safe drinking water anymore, you will instantly realize how fundamentally important water is. Water is necessary to life. Your body demands it, and when you don't have it, your body will change your priorities for you, and drinking water will immediately become your top priority. In a crisis situation, without safe drinking water, you and your family could find yourself in a very dangerous or even deadly situation. You must be aware of the risks and be prepared so you will always have safe drinking water.
It's hard to imagine how a disaster could quickly move our society to a place where water becomes the most valuable resource. So I want you to think about this question: What is one of the main differences between developed countries and Third World countries?
We have fantastic infrastructure. We live in the most advanced society ever. Our standard of living and everything that makes our lives easier is due to our fantastic infrastructure. This infrastructure keeps us safe, it allows us to be incredibly productive, and is invisible. We never think about our infrastructure, and in fact, we take it for granted but in runs every aspect of our lives: food, drinking water, disposal of sewage, communications, commerce, recreation activities, travel, medical, everything depends upon our infrastructure.
And at the core of our infrastructure is our electric grid. Our electric grid is a very complicated network of power plants, transformers, switches, computers, and more than 450,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. It’s wonderful technology but unfortunately it is shockingly vulnerable to terrorism, cyber terrorism, and an electromagnetic pulse. If our electric grid goes down, everything goes down: Communication, power, lights, hospitals, and our food distribution system. Think about it. We wouldn’t be able to pump gas, and our grocery stores would not be replenished. Water may not flow to your taps and if it does, it may be dangerously contaminated.
This may sound far-fetched but we got a small taste of this in 2003. The power went out for a few days in an area that stretched from Manhattan, through New York, up through Ontario, and then across to Detroit and Cleveland. What started as a small, localized outage, cascaded to impact more than 55 million people. It affected water supplies in Cleveland and other areas because it shut down the water treatment systems, and the tap water became contaminated with raw sewage. As a country, our infrastructure is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness.
Another very serious threat to our electric grid could come from an electromagnetic pulse from the sun. A recent article in the New York Times said this, and I want you to listen to this. This is really important.
“A powerful solar (or ‘geo-magnetic’ storm) has the potential to simultaneously damage multiple transformers in the electricity grid and perhaps even bring down large sections of it, affecting upwards of 100 million people in the United States for many months if not years.”
This article went on to say,
“A 2008 National Academy of Sciences study warned, that ‘because of the interconnectedness of critical infrastructures in modern society’ the ‘collateral effects of a longer-term outage would likely include the disruption of transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of the lack of refrigeration.’”
This isn't far-fetched. In 1859, the earth was impacted by a huge electromagnetic pulse referred to as the Carrington event. Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, but overall it had little impact because the people weren’t dependent upon technology then and people were much more self-reliant. Even today in most countries from the world people are not nearly as dependent upon technology as we are. Today if our infrastructure fails a large scale we’re in big trouble because we simply don't know how to live without technology. A huge electromagnetic pulse would have devastating effects today, and here's the thing—This will happen. The only question is when it will happen.
It’s very important to be prepared for hurricanes and earthquakes, but these events typically cover small geographic areas, which means that the other parts of the country can come together and help the people in the disaster areas. Massive power outages, on the other hand, could affect very large areas of the country and affect millions of people for long periods of time. This type of scenario is much more dangerous and it would be much more difficult for the government to respond to such a large-scale crisis.
Now I want to tell you about a new book called Lights Out by Ted Koppel. You remember Ted Koppel as the investigative journalist from “Nightline.” For over two years Ted Koppel researched our electric grid and its vulnerability to terrorism and cyber attacks. He interviewed people at the highest levels of Homeland Security, FEMA, the military, and state governments. After all of his research about our electric grid’s vulnerability, he determined that the government doesn't even have a plan for such an emergency. Here’s what he says in his book:
“There are emergency plans in place for earthquakes and hurricanes, heat waves and ice storms. There are plans for power outages of a few days affecting as many as several million people. But if a highly populated area was without electricity for a period of months or even weeks, there is no master plan for the civilian population.”
As I said, our electric infrastructure is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness, and this is not a secret. Our enemies know it. One of the main points of Ted’s book is how vulnerable our electric grid is to terrorism and cyber terrorism. It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation's three electric power grids could cripple much infrastructure, and in the age of cyber warfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. Think about how dependent we are on our technology, how vulnerable our electric grid is, and how willing certain terrorist groups would be to do this to us, and you will realize that everyone, regardless of where they live must be prepared for an emergency.
Again, my purpose is not to scare you. It’s to make you aware that no matter where you live, a crisis can strike at any time without notice. You should understand how an emergency will impact your family so you can be prepared to take care of them. Whether it’s an earthquake, hurricane, flooding, or other emergency such as a massive long-term blackout, there are many things that can go wrong. Piping systems can fail. Water may not flow, or it may be contaminated. Toilets won’t flush and human waste will become a big problem. Roads could be impassable, which means that you cannot get out and the rescue and delivery trucks can’t get in. Communications may be done. We can have chemical spills from storage tanks, trucks, pipelines, trains, and refineries. For example, in May 2015 there was a chemical pipeline that ruptured in Santa Barbara, California. Most people don’t realize that Los Angeles has thousands of chemical pipelines running through the city. You can also have nuclear power plant accidents, which is what happened Fukushima Japan in 2011 after the giant earthquake and tsunami. That disaster was the worst in history and it affected a very large area.
But here's the real threat; a stomach bug. Yes, a stomach bug. We've all been there. A stomach bug with vomiting, diarrhea, causing pain and weakness. All in all, a pretty horrible experience. In day-to-day life. a stomach bug is typically not a very dangerous situation. So what do we do? We drink plenty of fluids, we get plenty of sleep and usually within 24 hours were feeling much better, right. But what happens if it’s the water that made you sick in the first place? If you're rapidly losing fluids through vomiting and diarrhea, and if you’re not able to replace those fluids because the water is contaminated, you can be a very dangerous or even deadly situation very quickly.
Now imagine that your community is reeling after emergency and you are sick, your spouse is sick, and your children are sick. This is the situation you must avoid at all costs., Drinking contaminated water during an emergency is very dangerous even for strong, healthy adults, but it’s especially dangerous for infants and children. Children and infants consume more water for their body weight than adults do. They become dehydrated faster. They’re more susceptible to toxins and their immune systems are not developed yet, so they’re at a much higher risk of illness or death from water contamination.
So here’s the main point: Water will become your number one priority in an emergency situation. If an unexpected crisis strikes without notice and you are not able to provide your family with safe drinking water, your family's lives will be completely in the hands of government response. which may be overwhelmed. You will join the masses with their hands out, hoping that help comes in time. On the other hand, if you are prepared even to a moderate degree, and if you know what to do and what not to do, your family will be in a much better position. You'll be in a better position to help your friends and neighbors, and you will be less of a drain on emergency response organizations.
Again, I don’t want you to live in fear of what could happen. You can freak yourself out if you really start looking at how fragile our society is and how vulnerable our electric grid is. That’s not the point of this video. Fear is never good, but awareness is. I want you to be aware and be prepared, and then get on with your life.
I hope you now understand why this issue is so important. Again the purpose of this information is not to scare you, but rather we want to explain why it's vital that you educate yourself and those you love about safe drinking water. Please share Emergency Water 101.com with others. The more people who are prepared for emergency, the better off we’ll all be.
In our next training will cover the core information you need to keep your family safe, including Red Cross and FEMA recommended methods for treating contaminated water. The practical information we cover will help you understand how to respond and care for your family in an emergency. That video is ready for you.
This article published by NASA, explains how the Earth narrowly missed a huge solar flare in July of 2012. If it would have hit us, it could have been a worst-case scenario for us. And here's a video that explains the same event:
Questions? Leave them in the comments.