We’ve discussed food for emergency preparedness planning, but honestly long before you are going to have to eat, you will have to drink. Water is of paramount importance in regard to emergency preparedness. You need to ensure you consider water storage and sterilization methods for all of your preparedness kits, be it shelter in place or go-kits.
Do some water consumption research and you will be hard pressed not to be disappointed in the H2O waste at the hands of this nation. The numbers are shocking. According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey, the United States uses 408 billion gallons of water every day. We waste a ridiculous amount of water in this country. Pointing out how much water we use/waste is important given that habits are hard to give up. Depending on who you ask, the average America household uses 350 gallons of water per day. The recommended ratio for water storage in emergencies is one gallon of water, per person, per day.
I hope this made you stop and think. Let’s take my family as an example. We are a family of four. If we stockpile the minimum recommended amounts of water it adds up like this: Mama, Daddy, Child A, Child B = 4 gallons per day. With the minimum three-day plan, we would have 12 gallons stockpiled for shelter in place purposes. Under an average three-day period, we would normally consume 1050 gallons. During a crisis, IF we prepared in advance according to just the minimum recommended standards, we would have to make do with 1038 less gallons per day. If we didn’t prepare in advance, we would have to survive off of what was sitting in the pipes in the house, what was in the fridge, any random bottles of water we could find, and if we were thinking tactically what was in the hot water heater.
Have you ever been truly thirsty? And by thirsty, I mean nearing dehydration with no water in site. Most of us have not. We have not grown up in a third world country where water is a valuable commodity. We just turn on the tap and magically delicious water pours forth. It does depend on the source, but basically you can go between 3 days to a week without water before serious dehydration is followed by death. This is a much shorter timeframe than that of food deprivation. YOU ARE GOING TO NEED WATER! I can’t stress it enough.
We’ve covered what you need to store at a minimum (1 gallon, per person, per day) but remember that is for shelter in place and go-kits. “What about shelf life?” you are probably going to ask when considering water storage. We’ve all noticed by now that Aquafina and Dasani and every other company are so graciously putting expiration dates on water bottles now. For the love of God someone please tell me what happens to expired water?! Really?! As a result of my disgust at the notion of “expired” water, I’ve done a lot of research. Keep this in mind, the EPA and the FDA regulate water. (FDA specifically regulates bottled water.) It is recommended that water be rotated every 6 months. However, I’ve got to argue for some common sense. Why does it need to be rotated? What’s going to happen to bottled water? The answer is maybe something…maybe nothing. Do you remember a handful of years ago when folks started to freak out over the carcinogens that plastic was leaching into our foods (and water)? Well, there you have it, that’s what happens to your water after 6 months…maybe. I say maybe because whether or not your plastics leach anything anywhere depends on how they are stored. If you store you water in your garage, it’s going to get hot in the summer and yes, the plastics may leach. If you store it in the basement and it stays cool, then no it won’t. So take some time and do your best with planning storage. But focus on these two things primarily…1) if you are dying from dehydration or watching your children or elderly parents die from dehydration, will you care if the water they drink to save them has had chemicals leached into it over the last five years which may give them cancer in ten more years? 2) For long-term survival purposes, have you considered all of the things you will want water for besides just drinking? Would you like to bathe? Would you like to continue to flush the toilet long after the water has stopped flowing to your house? Would you like to have water to rehydrate all that dehydrated food you stored up? Me? I want to continue to do all of those things as long as possible. So don’t throw out water that you’ve gone to the trouble to store. It has purposes. And honestly, once you’ve been out for a while and gotten to the point where you are so desperate to drink from ditch, you will wish you had disregarded expiration dates on water.
So what are you water storage options other than buying large quantities of bottled water? First, please do purchase some bottled water as it goes on sale. That is a good avenue. However, also consider that if the crisis is predicted, don’t sit there. Get up and fill every bathtub, sink, cooler, and pitcher you have ahead of time. Do make use of your hot water heater if need be. Consider purchasing a WaterBOB or something similar. WaterBOBs are polymer bladders that store up to 100 gallons of freshwater inside of a standard bathtub. (This really helps if you can’t readily identify the last time you gave that thing a good scrub!). Consider storing the water that the good Lord sends us pretty regular…get a rain barrel for your downspout(s).
There are many, many ways and even more reasons to store water. And it is essential to your survival. Look for a follow-on post where I will discuss water purification methods during an emergency event.