Clean, potable water is a life necessity. Our bodies need it to survive. We use it to clean ourselves, preventing illness and infection. We use it to prepare food. Having plentiful water during and after a disaster cannot be overemphasized.
Experts say we’ll need one gallon of water per person per day. To my way of thinking, that is almost absurdly minimal. I’d suggest at least one and a half to two gallons. More is always better.
The problem is water is heavy and can be difficult to store in mass quantity. You can’t shrink it down either. It takes up a lot of space.
Look back to the list you made last week as to how much water you have stored right now. Did you include the contents of your water heater? The average water heater holds about 30 gallons or so. That’s enough to last a family of four a few days and it is likely already there, without any planning on your part.
How many days could you last on the water you have stored right now? Do the math, I’ll wait here. If you have four people in your family and you have 40 gallons stored, at 2 gallons per day you have enough for five days. And that’s figuring nothing more than occasional sponge baths for clean up.
What are the best ways to store water? I like to use cleaned out soda and juice bottles. A 2L bottle is roughly half a gallon. I like them because they are both easy to store and not too cumbersome to utilize as is. There are, of course, various sized containers specially made for storing water. I know several discount retailers sell 7 gallon containers in their sporting goods sections and they are nice to have on hand. Most of them have a built in spigot, making them easy to use. But again, water is heavy and even a 7 gallon container takes a bit of oomph to move.
You could, of course, purchase commercially bottled water. But, this can be expensive and really the water isn’t much better than what is available in many homes free from the tap.
Some folks advise that if you have the time to do so in an emergency, fill up your bathtub. Not a bad plan but how many of you have bathtubs clean enough to drink from at any given time? Of course, the water from the tub could be used for other purposes such as cleaning. What you’ll want to do though is cover the filled bathtub to keep dust and other stuff out of the water. You can buy shower curtain liners at most dollar stores and these would work well for that purpose. Just drape it over the tub and use books or something on the sides to keep it in place. Also, if you go this route in an emergency, use only the cold faucet tap so you don’t empty your water heater.
Your water should be stored in a location that is easily accessible to you. A basement is ok, IF you are ready, willing, and able to carry that water up and down stairs. A better solution might be closets, pantries, that sort of thing. Someplace cool and dark is best.
Stored water also needs to be rotated regularly. Figure on a six month schedule for rotation. Use the old water for house plants, pets, and gardens.
With all of that in mind, here are your assignments for this week.
1) Evaluate your current water storage plan, if you have one. Calculate how much water you should have stored. Remember, figure 1.5 or 2 gallons per person per day.
2) Work out a plan to achieve your storage goal. Begin or continue to gather containers that will work for your situation. Be sure they are clean. Do NOT use milk jugs. They are not designed for long term storage and degrade rather quickly, developing pinholes in them.
3) Figure out a rotation schedule. What you want to avoid is having to dump large quantities of your stored water all at once. The six month rule is a guideline, not set in stone. Use up and replenish a few gallons each week to keep your supply fresh.