Emergency Water Storage Basics

May 9th, 2012No Comments

You’ve completed your emergency plan, you’ve figured out your budget, and you’re ready to get started prepping.  What do you do first?  Buy food?  Get a gun?  Build a bug-out bag?  Buy gold?  I suggest you start with something much simpler and much more important to your immediate survival:  good old water.  Everything else is nice to have, but you aren’t going to survive very long without water.  In the desert Southwest water storage is even more important.  Municipal water supplies are unreliable during natural disasters and may be contaminated in any number of ways.  If the water supply is compromised for an extended period of time, you’ll get a first hand look at just how thin the veneer of social courtesy really is.

Water Storage Challenges

The main challenges you face are that water is heavy and bulky.  Food can be dehydrated and compressed, emergency gear can be kept in unused nooks and crannies, but water weighs eight pounds per gallon and takes up the same space no matter how you store it.  It is easiest to store water in large containers of 50 gallons or more, but this may not be practical for apartment dwellers and the like.  In this case, five gallon containers are a stackable and portable solution.

How Much Water Do You Need?

There is no easy answer to how much water you need.  You will need water for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene.  How much for each depends on a host of different factors such as your age, activity level, environment, type of food stored, bathroom facilities available, and even how long you can stand your own body odor.  As an absolute minimum, plan for one gallon per person per day, however, for planning purposes I recommend at least two gallons per person per day.  That’s still not much for the Tucson environment.

Conserve Your Water

Americans don’t appreciate the scarcity of clean, drinkable water, and our wasteful habits won’t go away overnight just because the city water was cut off.  Take some time to think about how to reduce your water usage in an emergency.  The sooner you learn to live on less, the longer your supplies will last.  Some things to consider are:

  • Store hand sanitizers to reduce hand washing
  • Minimize the use of freeze dried and dehydrated foods
  • Minimize activity during the hottest parts of the day
  • Use disposable plates and utensils
  • Reduce laundry by using the sun to disinfect and freshen up your clothes
  • Practice the art of sponge bathing
  • Harvest rainwater (start now so you have it when you need it)
Alternate Household Water Sources

Depending on your home, you may already have as much as 100 gallons of emergency water.  This water is in your water heater, water pipes, and toilet tanks.  In a home with two bathrooms and a 40 gallon water heater this will add at least 50 gallons of drinkable water to your supply, which is about a week’s worth of water for a family of four.  Accessing this water is easy.

  • Close the main supply valve feeding your house as soon as the public water system is compromised.  This is important to prevent contamination.
  • Close the water supply to your toilets and scoop the water out of the tank (not the bowl).  If you use in-tank toilet cleaners then don’t use this water.
  • Locate and open the highest faucet in your home to let air into your pipes.
  • Locate the lowest faucet.  This may be outside.  Using a suitable container, open the faucet and collect the water from the pipes.
  • On your water heater, close the cold water supply valve.  Turn on the hot water at a sink.  Locate the water heater drain on the bottom of the heater.  Using a suitable container, open the drain and collect the water from the heater.

In our time of plentiful and cheap drinking water available at every faucet, it is easy to forget how precious this simple liquid is in our lives.  Water is crucial to your survival, so spend some time thinking about how to store and conserve your emergency supply.  Every little bit helps!

© 2012, mjshozda. All rights reserved.

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