A version of this story was originally published by The Myrtle Beach Sun News on Sept. 7, 2017.
A common tip in preparing for hurricanes is to fill the bathtub with water, but it turns out not everyone knows just what to do with all that water.
Commentators on social media are telling friends and family they are ready for Hurricane Florence with said bathtub full, in case they run out of bottled water.
But according to the Red Cross, that’s a really bad idea.
“Water stored in bathtubs and sinks should never be used for drinking or for bathing young children because lead can leak from the glaze in bathtubs and sinks into water stored in them,” the disaster relief organization says on its web page.
“However, you can use water stored in bathtubs and sinks for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing,” the Red Cross said.
Facebook users are also talking about boiling the bathtub water before drinking it.
That might get rid of pollutants, but it won’t take care of lead.
It’s best to recycle milk jugs and fill those for extra drinking water.
Even better, store the water jugs in the freezer to act as ice blocks when the power goes out, and thaw when needed.
But before filling the entire bathtub with water for toilet flushing and cleaning, review your tornado sheltering plan.
Hurricanes can spark tornadoes along their path inland.
If your tornado sheltering plan is limited to hunkering down in the bathtub with a mattress over your head because you don’t have a basement or pantry, you might want to rethink whether a tub full of water is really needed.
So, do you really want to be left standing at the tub’s edge with your family and pets waiting for it to drain while a weather forecast is on television and warnings are blaring that a tornado is coming down your street?
If the tub is not needed for emergency shelter, then by all means, fill it and use it to wash your clothes and flush the toilet.