Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bleached as, bro.

Everyone always mentions using bleach to purify water in emergency situations.  Personally, I'd recommed only using bleach if you have no way to boil water - ie. as a last resort.

Boiling water is by far the easiest way to make water that has been contaminated by microrganisms safe for drinking.  There's not much you can do about chemical contaminants like heavy metals, unless you have some serious equipment, but for making water collected from your roof, from a creek, or the stored water that you forgot about for a few years drinkable, you just can't go past a good boil.

You don't even have to boil it for any length of time.  If you happen to have a thermometer, you could have your water at 70 degrees C for 30 minutes, and that would kill everything.  If you bring the temperature up to 85 degrees, then it's good after just 3 minutes.  So by the time you've actually got the water up to the boiling point, everything was probably dead a minute ago, and the time it takes to get the water back down to a temperature that's drinkable without burning your mouth, you've killed everything several times over.

However, if you haven't got any way to heat your water, you can resort to household bleach. 

BUT - and there's a definite "but" here.

Check the label on your bleach first!

Household bleach is typically between 5 percent and 6 percent chlorine.  Check how strong your particular brand is.   The table below gives the amounts of 5-6% chlorine bleach solution to add to how much water - it's really not a lot!

 Also, not all bleach is just bleach.   There's a massive proliferation of household cleaners out there, and they are not all the same.  Some of them contain dyes, some contain perfumes, and some contain detergents and other additives which can be seriously not good for you, even in the small amounts you'd be using.  Always read the label first, and if it's unclear as to what else has been added to the bleach, don't use it in your water.

Mix your plain unscented bleach with the water thoroughly and then leave it for at least 30 minutes before using (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold)  to let the approriate chemical reactions do their thing.

Another point to note - Cryptosporidium (a rather nasty diarrhea-causing pathogen) is highly resistant to chlorine, so if you are aware that it's a potential contaminant, boiling is always the best option.

Treating Water with a 5-6 Percent Liquid Chlorine Bleach Solution

Volume of Water to be TreatedTreating Clear/Cloudy Water:
Bleach Solution to Add
Treating Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water: Bleach Solution to Add
1 litres 3 drops5 drops
2 litres5 drops10 drops
4 litres1/8 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon
20 litres1/2 teaspoon1 teaspoon
40 litres1 teaspoon2 teaspoons

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where to from here?

On 2 July 2012, we launched the new Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO - the W is silent like in write).  Our continuing mission is to seek out new life and new civilisations... wait... that's the Enterprise...  WREMO's role is to manage Emergency Management services in support of the nine City, District, and Regional Councils of the Wellington region.  A bigger team with bigger impact.

This is pretty cool really, since disasters tend not to stop at the district boundary, and so much of our population lives in one part of the region and works in another. A shared approach gives us the ability to share our resources for the best effect, and get a much bigger bang for our buck.  What had been a somewhat piecemeal approach, now has the ability to put 20 staff to a particular project (instead of two), as well as helping to ensure that things are done more consistently across the region. 

Our new "homes" are in the earthquake-resistant Emergency Management building in Turnbull Street, Thorndon, Wellington, and another purpose built facility in Laings Road, Hutt City.  But staff continue to work throughout the region, operating from Emergency Management Offices at Porirua, Kapiti, and Masterton.

We're divided up into 3 business units:
 - Business & Development - they take care of the administrative, legislative and policy stuff.
 - Operations - they make sure that our Emergency Operations Centres will function during events, our standard operating procedures are all consistent, etc - making sure that we have response capability.
 - And then there's the biggest and most important team - Community Resilience.  99% of the time, we are not responding to an emergency, so it makes sense that most of our work is actually about building community resilience and capability now, so that when an event does happen, it's less likely to exceed the community's ability to cope - prevention and mitigation now, rather than being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
- There are also Area Coordinators looking after Porirua/Kapiti & Wairarapa.

So what does this all mean for Porirua EMO?

I now commute to Wellington everyday, so I guess I can't call myself the Porirua EMO anymore!
There is still a branch office in Porirua - you may want to ring ahead (237-5089) to check if anyone is in before knocking on the door.  Trevor Farmer, the area coordinator, will be splitting his time between the Kapiti & Porirua offices.

And what about the blog?   We've had a look at our social media, and done some consolidation.  I know that this blog usually ranks higher in Google searches for "Porirua emergency" than Porirua City Council's own website does, even though you should always be looking for official information from the official source - eg the council. Since I'm no longer part of Porirua City Council, this blog will no longer be a source for information during an activation - I'm likely to be too busy to update it  as I have a role managing the Porirua EOC during an activation, and once the PCC document management team have done their magic of downloading all the posts (since this was kind of an unofficial PCC site that needs to be retrievable for OIA requests), I'll steal back all the access, and it'll be mine, all mine again!  I'll try to keep posting emergency management stuff periodically, but it'll be on my own time.

To make it easier for our Public Information Management team during an event, I've also closed down the Porirua Emergency Management Facebook page.  Emergency information for Porirua will instead appear on the Porirua City Council Facebook page -!/pages/Porirua-City-Council/304937590918, and the front page of, as well as the Emergency Status page -  Same should probably happen for the other councils. Regional information can be found on the WREMO Facebook page - we hijacked WEMO's -  You'll find me there!

Kerry - no longer the Porirua EMO.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7.0 quake off coast of Opunake

Well, that certainly made my Tuesday evening a little more exciting than usual!

I would be mightily surprised if you didn't manage to notice that particular shake. lists it as magnitude 7.0, focal depth of 230km (so unlikely to generate a tsunami), and 60km south of Opunake, off the Taranaki Coast.

I've already had some reports from family & colleagues of things falling off shelves in Tawa & the Hutt Valley.  I'm quite chuffed that all my blu-tacking has done exactly what it was supposed to do, and I didn't lose anything but my dignity as I leapt from bed and was under the doorway before my brain caught up.

Please fill in the Felt Quake report in the link above, describe how the shaking felt in your area, and if you had any damage.

And if you are wondering how to better prepare yourself for events like that one, visit