I felt like I couldn’t last an afternoon without my bottle of water, so how would I fare in an emergency?
The other day, I spent the afternoon helping at my daughter’s school. I usually carry around a bottle of water with me, but I had forgotten my bottle in the shuffle of bringing in supplies. I came home later that evening and downed a HUGE class of cold water. As hungry as I was, it was the water that I was really yearning for. It was then that I began to think about this new journey of Preparedness I was planning on taking with you, and it struck me that if I could barely go a few hours without getting uncomfortable without water, it should be top on my preparedness priority list!
How long can a human survive without water? Most sources cite that the human body cannot survive without water for longer than 3-4 days without doing damage to bodily organs. Beyond 4 days, all the food in the world would do you no good without water. For this reason, I decided to focus on water storage for our first landmark on our trip to Destination Preparedness!
Emergency Essentials Inc., suggests that the first place I needed to store water was in my 72 hour emergency kits. You remember those! The pack of survival items you need if you had to get up and go with your family. Of course, you can choose to outfit your pack with basic water bottles. They are easy to find at your local grocery store. If you would like something specifically made for long term storage, you can store a metalized water pouch or box. These nifty little containers look a lot like those juice boxes or pouches you’d put in your child’s lunch box. They are specially treated, filled with purified water, and are specifically made for long term storage, just perfect for that emergency kit!
Now that you have your survival stash for the first three days of an emergency, what about storing water in your home? Did you know that you should consider having both stationary and portable water?
Boxed water containers and water barrels are the least expensive and most space efficient way of storing large volumes of water.
Portable water is stored in containers of approximately 5 gallons or less (remember 8 pounds per gallon!) These are very helpful to have on hand for transporting your stored water to a usable location, like your car if the emergency requires leaving. Once the water has been used, simply fill up the jug again from your stationary source. Five gallon jugs are a great choice for your portable water storage. You can also use washed out plastic soda pop bottles, but be sure to clean them out well and store them away from light and other storage items that could be damaged should the bottles leak. Do not use milk jugs, they are much more prone to bacterial growth and the plastic breaks down over time. The key to good water storage is to have a clean, sturdy container that protects against light penetration. This key inhibits bacteria growth. One of the best ways to store a portable source of water is a boxed water kit. These kits come with a metalized bag that you fill with water and then place in a sturdy cardboard box. Do you want to know the coolest thing about these kits? In an emergency, the sturdy box can double as an emergency toilet! Love that!
The most common containers for larger amounts of stationary water storage are those blue water barrels you see around. These heavy-duty, thick, polyethylene barrels are made of food grade materials. Barrels made for water are usually blue. Color is important, as blue means water is stored, and red indicates fuel. (Remember those fuel containers for your lawn mower?) Be aware that other colors may not be made of food grade plastic. You can purchase these barrels in many sizes. I’ve found that 55, 30, and 15 gallon are the most common. Try and store your blue barrels in a cool, dark area. A basement is a perfect option. Make sure there is an insulation barrier between the barrel and the ground. I’ve got mine perched upon some wood leftover from a home improvement project. It is not recommended to store your barrel outside, but if it is absolutely necessary, be sure to keep the barrel out of sunlight and be careful not to fill it too high! It is also wise to insulate the barrel and protect it from the elements as much as possible. You need about 1/10 of the barrel empty to allow for expansion should it freeze. This is not ideal, so don’t put it outside unless you have to. Oh, and don’t forget to grab that bung wrench and siphon pump! They are the tools you’ll need to open your barrel and siphon the water out!
So the next question that sprung up in my mind was how much water should I store? I discovered that experts recommend storing a minimum of 14 gallons per person. This is a two week supply if you store the minimum one gallon per person per day suggested for drinking and light sanitation. Light sanitation? I sit here thinking about my own family of five, four of which are females. I can’t imagine this gaggle of girls using just one gallon comfortably. For this reason, I’ve decided we are going to store some extra for our next emergency.
Have we quenched your thirst for knowledge on water storage? I hope so! You are now ready to equip your family with the most necessary of all supplies! WATER!