Water is a topic that is something that is touched on in preparation but I think most times it is often seen as getting by with the min. amount rather than what a person really needs to store on hand as well as making clean drinking water for the future. I can tell you from my own 5 day no tap water test that one gallon stored per person a day might be okay for three days. But it will not be enough even for a week long outage. Sure it’s better than nothing but I don’t know about you but I’m not preparing based on “better than nothing”.
A few of the lessons I learned from my water test.
- Water is heavy and it takes a lot of energy to move it as well as heat. This can be a huge factor if you are disabled or just have limited strength and energy. I had to cut my test short by a day because it was simply taking to much out of me because of my disability.
- 3-5 gallons a person per day is a more realistic amount to try and store. You might let your laundry and dishes as well as cleaning yourself up slide for 3 days. But over a week you will need to do some good cleaning up and water is the best thing for that job.
- Recycling water has to become second nature. Using a dish tub or bucket for washing and cleaning, then using that water to flush the toilet if the sewage system works or water the garden/plants /trees with the rinse water, will help stretch your water supplies. Remember you won’t be able to water you garden or lawn if the water is cut off.
- If you have animals they will need water just like you. When I had my 8 bunnies they needed about 1 gallon a day. In hot weather you better double that amount.
- Resupply: I use rain barrels as my primary resupply of water. You will have to filter it and make is safe for drinking but it’s close to home so you don’t have to travel to get more water. I’m afraid that people who don’t store any water will be down at your local creek and ponds gathering water and they will probably be in a bad mood. So best not to deal with them if at all possible. Plus you will still need to filter and make that water safe to drink!
I’m not going into how you can store or make your water safe to drink. That has been covered in this blog as well as other sites so you can pick the system that fits your budget. I am going to cover some tricks I learned to make dealing with a water outage a little easier.
- Get 1 or 2 of those big 5 gallon Igloo drink jugs you see at sporting events/construction sites. These will become your Hot water storage tank. Once they are “primed” with a half gallon of hot water for 10-20 minutes they will easily maintain hot water for 12-16 hours and fill it up at night and you will have hot water for cleaning up for the next day. Figure about one of the jugs for every two persons cleanup needs. I know you will be tired but if you fill it at night this will give you all night sleeping to recover and having hot water first thing in the morning to clean up with will be a great morale booster. These jugs cost anywhere from $22.00- $70.00 so shop around. Add a couple of good thermoses and you can have your coffee as well as some cooked grains that you start the night before and in the AM you won’t have any heavy lifting or heating water to do to start your day.
- Have 1/2 gallon pitchers to move water around. It is a bit repetitive but after a few days of moving a gallon pitchers or 5 gallon storage jugs will wear you out or create sore muscles. The smaller jug will give your body time to adjust to your new “workout” plan, or keep you from straining yourself if you have limited stamina.
- 15 gallon water barrels are a great size for storing in a closet if you don’t have the space for a bigger water barrel. The small barrels take up less floor space than three, 5 gallon camp jugs and they should not put any strain on your floor boards. Have a siphon tube or hand pump for getting the water out of the barrel.
- Get some big stock pots for boiling/heating water. Using these at night will heat the home and help with making water safe to drink. There is also a good chance that your power will be out while your water is out so heating the home in cool months could be a big bonus. Big Lots and Family Dollar often have these pots on sale for$20.00 or less!
- Use the sun to help heat you water. You can pick up a “Solar shower” at most mega-marts for under $15.00 and if you have a solar oven you can warm up your water as long as it isn’t freezing out side. In a long term disaster (2 weeks+) fuel/energy will have to be rationed so use the sun’s free energy every chance you can!
- Tarps, home improvement store buckets even the kiddy pool can be used to collect extra rain water. Make sure you cover them so they don’t become stagnant and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Have extra water cans so you can water you plants with little waste.
- Drinking plain water can get tiresome so be able to add flavor. Tang, Kool-aid, Gatorade, coffee, teas will add variety to water. Heck you can make homemade Ginger ale, root beer, sodas , wine, beer, cider and mead if you good water to use. Add a couple of Brita/Pur pitchers/filters and you can get rid of the any residual flavors/smells from using bleach or chemical water sanitizer.
Most of us Americans take clean, safe water for granted and we use a lot of it because it is always there at the tap. On average we use anywhere from 30-70 gallons per day so going from that overnight to a gallon a day will create a real hardship. That’s why I plan for 3-5 gallons while a bit more work it’s a good solution for the long term. If things get really bad you can always ration a gallon a day if needed, that will make your planned stores 3-5 gallons plan will last even longer! My plan was to have 500 gallons of water stored. Half in drinking water and half collected and stored via the rain barrels. I will actually have a bit more stored via the rain barrels once my collapsible barrels arrive and are set up for my Ice house/box project and that’s just for myself and a bit to share to family/tribe. Now I feel some what confident of my water supplies and that is basically for just one person. If you are the average American in the suburbs without a well/rain barrels or other water source/collection system and have stored only a couple of weeks worth of water based on a gallon a day per person. I don’t think you are prepared at all. Lack of clean drinking water can kill you in 1-3 days, so it is much more critical need than how much food you have stored!