Search results for: 'drought'

  • Beware These 5 Common Natural Disasters

    My family used to live on the edge of Tornado Alley. Since we saw tornado warnings every year, our 72-hour kits were extremely portable.

    Now we live in an area where tornadoes are extremely unlikely, yet earthquakes are a real possibility. Our home does not stand in an area with a major flood or fire risk that could require immediate evacuation. So our 72-hour kit is less portable and in stronger containers.

    If people know what natural disasters are more likely in their location, they can better prepare, argued Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter from the Department of Geography of the University of South Carolina in a 2008 study.

    Common Natural Resources - All National Weather Service

    “Improved understanding of how to react in a hazard event will contribute to reduced deaths from hazard events in high-mortality areas,” they wrote.

    Some types of natural disasters are prevalent everywhere.

    Here’s a list of five common natural disasters with the highest mortality rates, according to the University of South Carolina study.


    Heat or Drought

    Common Natural Disasters - Drought

    In 2014, heat killed an estimated 124 people, more than any other type of natural disaster, according to the National Weather Service.

    A stagnant atmosphere and poor air quality creates prime conditions for heat-related illness, according to Urban areas face higher risk of heat disasters because asphalt and concrete store more heat during the day and release it more slowly at night than unpaved land does.

    Drought can contaminate water supplies and create food shortages. It can also cause other natural disasters, like the 1988 Yellowstone wildfires.


    Summer Weather

    This category includes fog, thunderstorms, wind, and hail. These types of weather can hit throughout the year.




    Common Natural Disasters - FloodsFlooding killed an average of 71 people per year in the last 10 years, according to the National Weather Service. Almost half were due to people trying to cross flooded roads or overflowing streams or rivers, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Vehicles float in only 18 inches of water. Six inches can make a person fall. Flash floods can require evacuation in minutes.



    Common Natural Disasters - Tornadoes In the last 10 years, tornadoes killed an average of 110 people per year.

    A category five tornado in May 2011 in Joplin, Mo., killed 160 people in 38 minutes. It was the costliest tornado in U.S. history, causing $2.8 billion in damages, according to 24/7 Wall Street. Another in Moore, Okla., in 2013, killed 49 people, more than 40 percent children, and caused nearly $2.5 billion in damage.


    The first four types of natural disaster – heat, storms, winter weather, and floods – are fairly frequent in every state. Tornadoes are less frequent in some states though they have touched down in every one. According to the University of South Carolina study, it’s not as important how often deaths from natural disasters occur as where.

    “Even if researchers could definitively assert the 'deadliest hazard,' a better issue to pose is where residents are more susceptible to fatalities from natural hazards within the United States,” they wrote.

    You can find out what common natural disasters your state is most prone to at Your State Perils,

    The Deep South and Mountain West have the highest mortality rates.

    Alabama led the nation in per capita deaths from all types of natural disasters during the last five years, according to 24/7 Wall Street. In 2014, 63 people there died from extreme temperatures, 54 people died from wind, 47 died from tornadoes, and 38 died from flooding. Each figure was the highest in the nation.

    The other eight states in 24/7 Wall Street’s story with high mortality rates from natural disasters include, in order from greatest to least, Missouri, Wyoming, Arkansas, Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Montana and Tennessee.

    While there are more dangers than just the aforementioned occurrences, these five common natural disasters are definitely ones to watch out for. Know the threats in the area in which you live and travel and plan accordingly.


    What are some common natural disasters in your area? Let us know how you prepare for them!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: summer weather, heat, common natural disasters, drought, winter weather, Tornado, flood

  • Store, Filter, Purify: 3 Ways to Have Safe Drinking Water

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    Safe drinking water...not quiteIf you’re out in the wild and see a clear stream or river, you might think you've found safe drinking water. After all, you can see to the bottom and there aren’t any weird-looking floaties. Before you take even a sip from that water source, you may want to treat it.

    Actually, let me rephrase that. You will want to treat it.

    Drinking water that hasn’t been filtered or purified can have disastrous results. Diarrhea, fatigue, and vomiting are just a few of the negative side effects of drinking untreated water, not to mention diseases such as cholera that can crop up from it.

    So yeah, you’ll want to treat the water.

    When it comes to securing clean, safe drinking water for you and your family, knowing the differences between filtering and purifying, as well as how and where to store said water, can help you make an educated decision as to which type of tool you will need. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.



    Safe Drinking water with Katadyn Get safe drinking water with Katadyn's Hiker Pro water filter

    Water filters are like colanders. After you’ve finished boiling your pasta or pot stickers (or whatever it is you fancy for dinner), you dump it all into your colander. The water drains through the little holes in the strainer, while your food is unable to fit through, so it just stays behind. Water filters are the same way. They physically obstruct impurities in the water by not allowing them to pass through the filter. Filters are effective in eliminating bacteria, protozoa, and cysts, all of which can cause diseases. They may not, however filter out smaller floaties such as viruses.

    One of the nice things about filters is that many are small and portable, so you can take them with you camping or hiking, or even to just keep in your emergency kit. Filters like the Katadyn Hiker Pro and the Katadyn Combi are favorites of many hikers, campers, and preppers alike.



    While filters get rid of many harmful substances, purifiers make water safe from the remaining impurities such as bacteria and viruses. Usually this is done by using chlorine or iodine. Purifiers will not, however, take out sediment and other larger, harmful things, such as heavy metals. These purification tablets are a popular choice among hikers, campers, preppers, and travelers, as they are small, easy to carry, and can be used to treat water wherever you are, especially during an emergency. Purification can be used after filtering your water for extra security in your water's safety.


    Storing Water

    Another option to ensure you have safe drinking water is to have a long-term water storage. Of course, that water needs to be clean when it was packaged. There are a few options to go about storing water.

    The first is to get pre-packaged water. You know it’s clean and it will last quite some time. It’s also easy to grab on your way out the door in the event of an emergency.

    Another option is the do-it-yourself method. This is the favored way of many people. If you decided on the do-it-yourself method, make sure you use good, food-grade plastic, such as pop bottles. Don’t use containers that once housed milk or juice, as the proteins and sugars can spoil your water.

    Safe drinking water in 320 gallons The 320-gallon water reserve will keep you well-watered with safe drinking water

    Purchasing water containers is a good option, because the quality will be good, and many (if not most) are blue in color, which helps prevent the sun from penetrating your water and helping little organisms grow. As some examples of these kinds of water containers, we carry 5-gallon jugs, 15-gallon, 30-gallon, and 55-gallon water barrels, and even a 160-gallon water reserve (the 160-gallon water reserves stack, by the way, to allow you to have a 320-gallon ultimate water reserve. That’ll keep you going for a while!). While you may not have room for a 320-gallon behemoth, the smaller barrels and containers are great options to keep in your basement, garage, or wherever it is you store water. Just remember: keep them out of direct sunlight, and the cooler the storage temperature, the better!

    When storing water that came from your faucet, it should be swapped out every six months. However, in order to make sure the tap water you’ve stored for a year or more is still safe to drink, Zane Satterfield (engineer scientist at West Virginia University), suggests adding four drops of plain, unscented bleach (per gallon of water) to your water container, let sit for 30 minutes, and you’ll be good to go.


    Standing & Stagnant Water vs. Running Water

    Safe drinking water - not this Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms.

    If you find yourself hunting for water in the wild, running water is practically always a better option than standing or stagnant water. That’s because water that isn’t moving becomes a breeding ground for harmful microbes that can make us incredibly sick – or worse. Running water, such as in rivers and streams, make it more difficult for such dangerous life to settle down and thrive. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make running water safe to drink, either. There are still harmful microbes floating around in rivers and creeks and streams that you’ll want to filter out.


    As you can see, there are plenty of options for securing safe, clean drinking water. Choose the option that’s best for you, but don’t forget to have a backup plan, just in case. After all, if you have a 55-gallon water barrel and are forced to evacuate, you’ll be happy you have your handy-dandy Katadyn Hiker water filter (or other water filter that suits you better). On the other hand, your favorite water filter won’t be much good in case of a drought, but your 320-gallon water reserve will most certainly come in handy. And of course, a combination of resources is always a great option.


    How do you acquire clean, safe drinking water? Let us know in the comments below!


    Safe Drinking Water - Other Disasters

    Posted In: Water Storage Tagged With: stagnant water, safe drinking water, Katadyn, purify, filter, water filter, water storage, storage

  • Greywater Can Save Water

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    Let’s face it. Most of us can’t do much of anything about where we get our municipal water.

    However, we can do quite a bit about how much we use.

    By recycling some of the water used in their homes, called greywater, some homeowners in north-central California cut their water use by an average of 26 percent, according to a 2013 study by Greywater Action.

    Greywater Washing MachineGreywater is used water from bathroom sinks, tubs and washing machines. One writer described it as gently used. Greywater recycling systems collect at least some of this water for landscape irrigation or flushing the toilet.

    Collection is as simple as sticking a bucket in the shower or as complex as the NEXtreater, an installed system that washes greywater, sends it through two filters and a UV light and stores it so it comes out looking and smelling like tap water.

    The three most common types of greywater collections systems are laundry-to-landscape, branched drain, and pumped, according to Greywater Action.

    Laundry-to-landscape is the easiest and least expensive. In fact, plans and directions are free online. It simply takes water from the washing machine and, using the washing machine pump, sends it outside. Branched drain also takes water from sinks and showers and does the same thing. Both go out to a mulch basin, basically a hole in the ground filled with wood chips, and out to plants.

    A pump system takes greywater, stores it in a tank and pumps it to where you want it.

    Greywater pipes are separate from pipes that go to sewage.

    Greywater Action’s study found that laundry-to-landscape systems can cost $250 to $2,000, depending on installation and permit costs (in some states, no permit is necessary). Branched drain systems cost from $400 to $3,000, pumped systems cost $600 to $3,000 and high-tech systems like the NEXtreater that filter and clean water can cost $5,000 to $10,000.

    Homes can be retrofitted for greywater recycling, said Ralph Petroff, Executive chairman of Nexus eWater, the company that makes the NEXtreater.

    “We think that, nationally, maybe 50 percent of the homes could do a full-house gray-water retrofit relatively inexpensively, and the other 50 percent would be either challenging or you could do a partial retrofit,” he said in an interview with Water Deeply.

    Greywater can’t be used for everything, according to

    Greywater Drip IrrigationFor example, the water shouldn’t touch the edible parts of garden plants. Therefore, a drip irrigation system is necessary and greywater isn’t for root crops like carrots.

    Greywater should not pool or create runoff and, unless it’s a high tech system, should be used the day it’s produced so it doesn’t start to stink. It shouldn’t be touched or ingested. A system needs valves so greywater can’t backwash into regular water.

    Normal laundry detergent won’t work with greywater either. It contains salts and boron that accumulate in soil. A story in Mother Earth News said boron levels in detergent should be below 0.1 mg per liter and sodium below 40 mg per liter, which is about as much as in some tap water. Detergent shouldn’t contain bleach. Most bath products are OK because they’re used in such small amounts, according to Mother Earth News.

    Greywater codes differ between states. Look for them in the state’s plumbing codes in its building department or in its environmental health department, Laura Allen wrote in “The Water Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape.”

    “Florida bans outdoor greywater use but allows it for flushing toilets. Georgia allows you to carry greywater in buckets to the plants, but you can’t get a permit to build a simple greywater irrigation system. Washington State’s code allows very small systems built without a permit (following performance guidelines), but all other systems have quite stringent requirements. Oregon requires an annual permit fee,” Allen wrote.

    Even though greywater can come with difficulty, using it could produce extraordinary water savings, according to

    “If just 10 percent of California’s 12 million+ households captured and reused greywater, the state could save 373,000 acre-feet annually. Just for comparison: The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir holds about 300,000 acre-feet. The proposed expansion of Shasta Reservoir would yield about 76,000 acre-feet annually,” according to its California Graywater Factsheet.


    How are you recycling your water?


    Posted In: Budgeting, Gardening, Water Storage Tagged With: sullage, graywater, greywater, water conservation, drought

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