I have taken a bit of time to consider all the things that went right as well as wrong on this water test and I want to share my lessons learned.
For anyone who does not read my blog regularly my main water line was leaking and I had a huge water bill that let me know this was a problem. Now this is a fairly mundane personal disaster but going without tap water is something that generally happens with most “natural” disasters so having a water plan and stored water is a must have in my book.
The first instant of warning you need to get to work on your plan. I had a bit of warning I needed to shutoff my water until the water main was fixed via my water bill. If you have any sort of warning you need to get busy on your water plan. Do any water intensive cleaning such as dishes, laundry, floors, clean bathrooms and the kitchen while you still have tap water. Starting a disaster with a clean house may seem a little OCD but it saves a lot of effort in the long run as well as giving you a healthy and clean environment for few days until you work out your water plan. You might not get any warning whatsoever but if you do take advantage of it! I have gravity feed water bowls for my Pekes and cat so those got topped off right away. I knew I would only be without water for about five days and since it was a personal disaster I knew I could buy water or even hit up a neighbor or family member to top off any water jugs so I did not fill my tub full of water but in a larger disaster start filling every container you have with water, pots and pans, buckets, kiddy pools (depending on weather). Even if you store safe drinking water! If the disaster misses you just dump the water on your yard/garden or in your washer and consider it a test.
Hot water: I love hot water and other than toilets I think it is a key to any civilization. You have to remember if the tap water stops the hot water on demand also stops. I have an electric water heater so I flipped the breaker to the hot water tank while the water was off. If you have a gas water heater you should know how to shut off the gas flow so the tank does not go dry. Plus a large tank offers another 30-50 gallons of water so it needs to be conserved. We humans tend to get in rut/habits and sometimes it takes a bit of time to break those habits so turn everything off. If you need it your pipes and tanks can be a reserve.
Heating water: From cooking to keeping yourself and home clean you need hot water and boiling water is one of the best ways to make safe drinking water so you might as well take advantage of all that hot water/energy/work if you have a way to store it. This is where the insulated water jugs come into play on your preps. I like the Igloo 5 gallon jugs as a good at keeping water bath warm for up to 36 hours when primed with a quart of hot water for about 10 minutes. The Igloo type water jugs are just like an Ice chest and you could probably use an Ice Chest/camp cooler the same way and they all tend to have a spigot to access the water. The insulation does not care if want it hot or cold it’s just insulated.
Heating the water: I have done two no tap water tests and I got to say having the wood stove made things a lot easier compared to heating the water on my electric stove. Having the ability to set a couple of big stock pots on the wood stove over night was a huge physical energy saver compared to my first no tap water test using just the electric stove. Water is very heavy at about 8 pounds per gallon, moving even a five gallon camp jug can be a challenge for some people. I know at the the five day mark of this test my fatigue levels were getting pretty high with my disability. I like using half gallon plastic pitchers to fill my dish tubs and the Igloo jugs from the stock pots on the stove. You can buy a small dolly or shopping cart that can make moving the water from where it is stored to where you need it. I recommend you do things the easiest way possible at least until you toughen up a bit. You want a work out? Go to the gym prior to any disaster and don’t think you can get tough/strong while you figure out your water plan!
Dish tubs and buckets: These are great ways to recycle water from using cooled water from cooking to rinse water from dishes. Grass, gardens and your toilets need water to work. Trust me, I have done the work and your toilet alone needs about 6-9 gallons a day just to flush even twice a day, if you are being frugal with water. A gallon a day per person is not enough of stored water to keep a home or family going for over 3 days. I think at a min. for stored water you should plan on 3-5 gallons per day and count your home as an extra person. You don’t have to store all drinkable water as water from a rain barrel is safe to flush a toilet or water a garden. But for 14 days a family of 4 plus a home I think you need about 210 gallons of safe drinking water stored and then augment your storage with rain barrels or some kind of backup supply.
I know most people will not like these numbers. I have got by on less water for 3 days but you never know how long a disaster may last. I have never read a story of a person that went through a disaster that wished the had less of the basics on hand.