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  • El Niño Winter: Is California Hosed?

    California is in deep with their drought. Fortunately, El Niño is on the way with a wet winter! Unfortunately, that’s going to cause more flooding than any real drought relief.

    That’s what happens when the ground is insanely parched. Rain water won’t seep in. Instead, it puddles up over the ground like it’s concrete. This, as you might imagine, can cause some pretty bad flooding.

    Man in Rain - Mirror - El Niño Winter via Mirror

    Think about it. California is like a really, really thirsty person who would like nothing more than to stick his head underneath the faucet for a drink (he’d use a cup, but he’s fresh out). Instead of getting a drip or even a constant flow, he gets blasted by a firehouse, unleashing all its water at him at once. That makes it rather difficult to drink when it’s coming at you that fast. The same goes with drought stricken ground. Light rain would be great. A torrent of water, however, is just going to wash everything away.

    San Diego may not be known for its mega-storms, but, according to a report by San Diego 6, El Niño has wreaked havoc in the past, creating winds of 60 miles per hour. That’s some serious tree toppling weather! Add rain to that mix and you’ve got yourself a flash flood problem.

    El Niño Winter Map - AccuWeather This map shows the stormy winter predicted to hit California - via AccuWeather

    AccuWeather expects Californians will have to deal with flooding and even landslides. Areas especially under threat are those over recent burn scar areas where forest fires raged earlier this and previous years. So, if you don’t have flood insurance yet, I highly recommend getting some before El Niño sets in. Remember, flood insurance takes 30 days to become active from the day you purchase, so make sure you get some now, before the floods come.

    But with all this rain, you must be thinking it can’t all be bad, right? Well, you’d be correct in that assumption. Where there’s rain near sea level, there is snow up in the mountains, and California desperately needs more snow.

    The snow pack in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is at its lowest in 500 years. This snow pack is ideally supposed to help provide fresh water for California. But, with the snow up there constantly melting, that backup water supply is virtually non-existent. So while El Niño may bring redundant flooding down below, it will also bring that all-important white stuff to the mountains. California needs more snow, so this, at least, is a good thing.

    Ready or not, however, the rains will be coming to California, and floods are going to make things messy. The time to prepare – as always – is now. Don’t risk going into this El Niño season without flood insurance. The people in Noah’s time were warned about a great flood, but they didn’t prepare themselves, and, well, the rest is history.

    Other ways to prepare include having a storage of emergency food and water. If your home does flood, your food could get ruined, but by having well-sealed containers and stores of food on high shelves, you’ll be just fine. Clean drinking water may also be a problem during floods. Flood water can contaminate local drinking water, rendering it useless. Unless you do some serious filtering and purifying, you really shouldn’t drink the water. So make sure you have water jugs and barrels filled with clean drinking water, filters and purifiers, or all of the above. And, since California is situated along the coast, having a desalinator might not be a bad idea, either, if that’s within your budget. Desalinators convert salty ocean water to potable drinking water. With the vast, briny ocean right at your doorstep, it’s definitely something to think about.


    How are you preparing for the El Niño winter?



  • A Little Water Can Go a Long Way

    You'll want more than just a little water here. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico (The Telegraph)

    Dehydration kills, fast. A French couple died this month in hours in White Sands National Monument because they ran out of water. They and their son only took two half-liter water bottles on their hike in the 100-plus degree desert, instead of the four liters per person recommended. Their son survived because his parents gave him two sips for every one they took, according to news reports.

    It just goes to show that a little water can go a long way.

    On average, people need about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily according to ready.gov. Some need more: children, nursing mothers, sick people, those who are exercising, and people in a warm climate. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.

    If you keep your head, you can get water in many ways. Here are some of them, from easiest to hardest.


    Store water

    The easiest way to have water after an emergency is to store it before an emergency. The Red Cross recommends a gallon per person, per day, for at least three days.

    Commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable water for storage. It’s easy to obtain, easy to store and lasts longer than home-bottled water. Just don’t open it and be aware of the expiration dates on the bottles.

    More than just a little water! More than just a little water!

    Home-bottled water can be less expensive and perhaps provide a way to recycle old soft drink bottles. We even have food-grade water storage containers, which makes storing water easy. If you want to re-use old bottles, the Red Cross says don’t use milk or fruit juice containers. Milk proteins and fruit sugars can’t be completely removed. Don’t use cardboard or glass containers.

    To bottle water at home, first clean bottles with dish soap and rinse completely. Sanitize soft drink bottles by swishing around a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water. After sanitizing the bottles, rinse them completely.

    Second, fill each bottle with tap water. If your water comes from a well or if your utility doesn’t treat it with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid chlorine bleach to each gallon of water. Check the water after a half hour. If it doesn’t have a slight bleach smell, re-treat it and wait 15 minutes.

    Or, you can use water purification tablets, such as the Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets. They work best when water is at least 68 degrees, so leave very cold water out to warm, according to WikiHow.

    Use the original cap on the container. Close it tightly, and write the date on the outside of the container. Store it in a cool, dry place. Replace home-bottled water every six months.


    Use hidden water sources in the home

    If a disaster takes place while you’re at home, you have some hidden safe water sources: melted ice cubes and water drained from pipes and the hot water heater, according to ready.gov.

    Do not drink water from toilet flush tanks or bowls, radiators, water beds or swimming pools.

    First, know how to turn off water mains. Broken water and sewage lines can contaminate water coming into your home.

    To drain pipes, turn on your faucet to the highest level to let air into pipes then get water from the lowest faucet in the home.

    To get water from the water heater, make sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Turn off the water intake valve in the tank and turn on the hot water faucet. Once clean water is restored, refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity on.


    Purify water from impure sources

    A little water to purify and filter

    If you’re out of clean water, the Red Cross says you can treat water from precipitation, streams, or rivers, ponds, lakes, and underground springs. Don’t use untreated water. It can contain deadly germs. Don’t use flood water or water with floating material, an odor, or a dark color. Only use salt water if you distill it first. For those of you on the coast, this could be a good source of water if you have a desalinator.

    First, let suspended particles settle to the bottom of a container or strain water through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth. Then use whatever method you choose: boiling, purification tablets or bleach, filters, UV pens, distiller, or a combination of methods. For a wide range of purification tools, check out our water purification options.

    If you’re concerned about being short of water, follow these rules from survival expert Tom Brown, Jr. in Mother Earth News. Don’t drink carbonated beverages or alcohol. They cause dehydration. So do urine and salt water unless they’ve been distilled. Don’t eat if you don’t have water to drink with it. Limit activity to limit perspiration.

    However, drink what water you have. People have died of thirst with full canteens.

    “Try to store as much water as you can in your stomach,” Brown wrote.

    Because, as we’ve seen from the story about the French family, a little water can still go a long way.


    - Melissa


    What does your water preparedness look like? Let us know in the comments below!

  • What the Animas River Spill Teaches Us About Water Storage

    Water is a fragile resource. One moment it’s here, the next…well, it’s still here, but completely unusable.

    Animas River - CNN Animas River (CNN)

    That’s what happened to the Animas River in Colorado and into the San Juan River through Utah and New Mexico. According to ABC News, “3 million gallons of wastewater containing heavy metals, including lead and arsenic,” were accidentally dumped into the river. This waste came courtesy of the of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. CNN reported that the EPA was working on treating the contaminated water inside the mine when “the team accidentally caused it to flow into the nearby Animas River.”


    Now, the river has turned a bright orange hue. While the river may look like a popular citrus beverage, drinking it would have adverse effects. The mustard-colored river is a visual warning that the water is far from clean. Officials have warned people to stay out of the water, and for those in the flood plains of the Animas River and San Juan River, they are advised to test their water before using it for cooking, bathing, and of course, drinking.

    Just one accident from the EPA (which, ironically, is supposed to prevent stuff like this from happening) created havoc for nature and humans alike. According to a CNN report, water samples showed mercury was “nearly 10 times higher than EP acceptable levels. Samples of beryllium and cadmium were 33 times higher, and one of the arsenic levels was more than 800 times higher.” Yowzah. If you’re thinking, “That can’t be good,” you’d be right. CNN went on to explain that exposure to the high levels of heavy metals in the water “can cause an array of health problems from cancer to kidney disease to developmental problems in children.”

    So you may want to avoid all kinds of contact with water from that river until it’s deemed clean.

    But this isn’t the first time U.S. rivers have been highly polluted.

    Animus River isn't the first to be polluted Yellowstone River

    Earlier this year, nearly 50,000 gallons of oil found its way into the Yellowstone River in Montana. CNN reported that the governor declared a state of emergency, and “residents in nearby cities were told not to drink the tap water.” Residents were told to use bottled water for drinking and cooking.

    This was déjà vu for this river. In 2011, Exxon Mobile’s pipeline ruptured, pouring 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River. Not only does lightning strike the same place twice, but apparently oil spills do as well.

    Last year, about 300,000 West Virginians couldn’t drink or wash with water from their tap due to a chemical spill. The ban lasted 10 days.

    Animas River follows the Kalamazoo River in pollution An oil-filled pond next to the Kalamazoo River

    Five years ago, the Kalamazoo River in Michigan turned black with over 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil. 150 families were displaced. As you can imagine, the drinking water was less than ideal.

    That’s a lot of high-level water pollution. But smaller spills effect our water, too. MTV News posted an article with even more rivers that have been contaminated.

    But why am I telling you all this? Because it’s important to know – and remember – how fragile our water supplies can be.

    What we see here are many prime examples of water, our precious resource, being completely and abruptly unusable. This is one reason why having an emergency water storage is vitally important. From water barrels to water filters, you can never be too careful when it comes to getting clean water for you and your family.

    Being without water for 24 hours is one thing, but how would you fare if you had to go without for 10 days like the folks in West Virginia? Definitely something to think about.


    Have you ever had an abrupt end to your water supply? How have you prepared for one?


    Animas River - Disaster Page

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