Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. If your area is hit with an earthquake or dangerous weather, you may be without electricity. If your whole region is without electricity for some time, you may lose access to tap water.
Keeping Your Household Healthy
While laying in a store of food that will last for quite a while can be done fairly simply, making sure you have access to enough water for drinking, cooking and bathing presents a different problem. Water is heavy and can become unusable over time.
Buying water is expensive and, in the event of a serious emergency, may not be available. If the filtration system at your local water plant fails for any reason, you and your family may be exposed to dangerous bacteria and waterborne pests. Finally, the cleansing products that may be added to your tap water may be worrying. To best identify toxic disinfection byproducts in drinking water and reduce your exposure to these toxins, having your own water purification system in place before a disaster is a great choice.
Choosing the Right Storage
For long term storage of large amounts of water, non-reactive plastic barrels are a good option. If you can find them used, be ready to clean them with a mild bleach solution. Take the time to roll the barrel around to get all the surfaces cleaned well. If the barrel once held something oily, you may need to use a degreasing dish soap to clean it completely.
This barrel is now ready for basic water storage. Water from this barrel can be used directly for cleaning. If you plan to cook or drink this water, you will need to filter it in something non-reactive, such as glass or stainless steel.
A Word About Weight
Water weighs in at a little over 8 pounds per gallon. Once your 55 gallon drum is full, it will be extremely heavy. You will need smaller vessels for transporting and storage. It’s also a good idea to have a pump of some sort you can use to get water out of your barrels, rather than having to remove lids and risk dropping anything in the barrels. A battery operated or rechargeable pump that you can use to fill up a pitcher or jug can serve you well.
Purifying Water in the Wild
In the event of a complete water shutdown, you may have to pull water from a river, pond or lake. The first step after such a harvest is to filter out debris and then to boil the water for a minute. A sizable pot with a tight fitting lid will make this faster, especially if you have to build a fire in your yard to boil the water.
Once you have boiled your water for a minute, let it cool and filter it. Boiled water can taste rather flat, but filtering it into something non-reactive, such as glass or stainless steel, can give it back some fresh flavor.
There are also
● individual filtering bottles, often available at camping supply stores
● tablets that will kill giardia and bacteria
● pressurized storage canisters that allow you to pump out filtered water
Many of these containers are plastic. This makes sense, as plastic is lighter and cheaper than stainless or glass. However, it’s a good idea to do your final filtering process into stainless steel or glass. First off, this container can be designated for drinking water only. Secondly, the water will just taste better out of such a vessel.
How Much Water Should You Store?
An adult male will need nearly a gallon of water each day to drink and females slightly under that, depending on body weight and activity. Because disasters seldom hit when the weather is perfect, plan for two gallons of drinking water per adult in extreme heat.
Add another gallon per person per day for washing up, and don’t forget to add a gallon each for your pets just to be sure.
Consider investing in a filtering tool that will allow you to filter all your drinking, cooking and washing up water. It makes no sense to boil your drinking water and then brush your teeth with water that contains giardia. It only takes one nasty bug to make you very sick and dehydrated, which will put your life at risk in the event of an emergency.
One quality water filter can be the difference between falling apart and getting through a