By Bob Difley
In much of the world obtaining safe drinking water is a daily concern. But we RVers are fortunate to be able to fill our water tanks from taps whose sources we don’t even question. We accept that if it comes out of a faucet, it must be OK – even when the water fill station is within feet of the sanitary dump station.
And sometimes we use the provided hose, having no clue where the end that we poke down into our water fill receptacle has been. When was the last time you even thought of pathogenic microorganisms and intestinal parasites?
However, even in this highly sanitized country, we may be taking too much for granted. Like assuming the public campground, highway rest area, state and national park, and even high-line RV resorts’ water supplies are tested as often as required by health officials. In the United States about 25,000 to 30,000 cases of dysentery are reported every year.
“Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection,” says Water.org. Admittedly, we are unlikely to contract a waterborne disease – though when RVing we do not always take the same degree of precaution that we do at home.
You may think you are safe if you don’t drink plain, un-enhanced water from your water tank, preferring wine, beer, coffee, sodas or tea for your liquid intake. But if water for any use – ice cubes, washing vegetables, rinsing dishes, brushing teeth – comes in contact with your insides, you might want to consider these extra firewall protections between you and the bugs that can make you sick.
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling food, food preparation equipment, utensils, serving dishes and tableware.
• Wash similarly after dumping your waste tanks.
• Fill your water tank only from a water supply known to be clean drinking (potable) water, such as municipal, campground and tested well water sources.
• Keep the ends of your water-filling hose out of the dirt and off the ground at all times, being especially careful when attaching your hose to a tap.
• Attach the ends of the hose together after emptying it of all remaining water and store coiled in a closed plastic bag or bin.
• Use your own water hose to fill your tank. You don’t know how previous RVers have handled the supplied hose.
• Do not fill your water tank from the water supplied at a dump station for rinsing down, unless you are sure it is a safe (municipal) water supply and you use your own hose.
• Wash your hands after dumping and before handling the water hose to fill your freshwater tank.
• Every six months sanitize your freshwater tank by pouring in one-quarter cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water in a full tank. Let stand overnight. Drain, fill, and rinse at least twice, or until chlorine odor is gone. Better yet, fill with water and bleach when leaving your last campground and let it slosh around in the tank as you drive.
• Water filters will also remove grit that you get from some desert water supplies and bad tastes from some wells and other local water supplies.
• Use the filtered water for washing veggies, brushing teeth, making coffee, tea, cold drinks, and ice cubes.
• If you think you may have taken on tainted water, dump it and sanitize the tank with a bleach and water flush.
These are all simple measures – and good habits – that will ensure that you are protecting yourself and your family from what could be a most uncomfortable experience.
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