After promising last time to talk about water this time, our part of the world was blessed with almost a week of rain. While there’s such a thing as too much, we’re pretty far from that point. Still, it makes outdoor chores ‘interesting.’
But while I’ll be talking about water this week, it’s not (directly) rainfall that I’ll be focusing on. It’s back to the Family Survival Planning guide, and their section on water storage and purification.
They start with some obvious questions: How do you purify water? Where do you store it? How much do you need? Then they start to address the questions in reverse order.
The so-called “Rule of Threes” is indirectly mentioned: You can survive about three minutes without air, about three hours in poor conditions without shelter, and about three weeks without food–but lacking water will take you down in about three days. (Obviously, the stuff is important–am I preaching to the choir, yet?)
So, how much? FEMA and others (myself included) recommend two weeks per person; an absolute down-to-the-wire minimum would be a gallon per day per person, with about half that going towards drinking. But, as the FSP folks point out, there are other things to consider:
- Baby in the house? Plan on more, for food/formula, clean-up, etc.
- Teens in the house? They drink more.
- Chronically ill? They may need more for their medicine, or for clean-up.
- Pets need their allotment.
- Do you have dehydrated, dried, or freeze-dried foods? You’re going to need water to prep them, over and above your daily ration.
- Do you live in a particularly arid and/or hot climate? You’ll possibly need more water…
Then you need to think about where to get your water. If you live in the city on a municipal supply, your tap water may not be available in an emergency–or it may not be potable, even if it still runs. (Depending on the type of emergency, the water itself may be the emergency–disaster planning folks have nightmares about someone poisoning the water supply…) If you’re on a well, you’re probably okay, as long as you have power; you’ll want to think about some other way to get the water out of the well. (Generator for the pump? Manual pump? Bucket?)
Inside the house, there’s a striking amount of water just sort of “laying around,” in various states of accessibility. Your water heater has probably at least twenty gallons or so of potable water. The plumbing system in the house is likewise full. The tanks of your toilets are usable, if needs be. Do you have a water bed? That’s plenty of greywater. Swimming pool? Hot tub? Greywater. And they point out that most canned goods have quite a bit of water in them.
Outside, you’ve got streams, lakes, reservoirs; the above-mentioned pools and hot tubs. And my favorite: rainwater, assuming you have a way of capturing it.
Speaking of capturing the water, you’ve got to have something to keep it in. These containers can be just about anything–buckets, barrels, cans, bottles, or jars; commercially, there are “WaterBricks,” which I find to be nifty. Water BOBs are cool, too, if you can get to the tub before your water supply is cut off. (They have the disadvantage of being single-use, which I don’t care for; still, in an emergency, you can’t really be picky.) Just don’t use milk jugs. They smell, no matter how much you clean them out. And they deteriorate over time, which could end up being a problem.
For a start, we even went down to the local big-box hardware store, and picked up a bunch of 5-gallon jugs of water. They’re (relatively) inexpensive, “pre-loaded,” and handy. The jugs are even re-usable, out to a point. It’s certainly an option to consider, even if only as a “first step.”
Next time, we’ll talk water disinfection and purification, and get into food and some other storage. I may even break down and do some commentary on the first hundred days of the new administration. (That would really be preaching to the choir, wouldn’t it?) In the meantime, please comment about what you’re doing for water.