Water is the #1 essential for survival. After all, your body is made up of over 70% water, so if you’re not constantly replenishing, your body will stop functioning as it should. Fortunately, preparing with water doesn’t have to be difficult. In order to know how to best prepare yourself and your family, familiarize yourself with the following water facts.
1. Daily Requirement
Each person requires a minimum of one gallon of water per day. Ideally, individuals will be prepared with enough water for two weeks, which means having access to 14 gallons of water at any given time. This water is not just for drinking, but for light sanitation as well, including brushing teeth and washing hands. If you have dehydrated or freeze-dried food stored up, you will want more water to reconstitute your food.
2. No Expiration Date
Water does not expire. It can be contaminated, however. In order to keep your water safe and fresh, treat it with bleach or a commercially available water treatment. Likewise, it’s important to at least check on your water storage every 6 months to a year, just to make sure it’s still fresh. If need be, rotate your water to ensure it’s fresh and sanitary when you need it.
3. Stationary and Portable
When storing water, be sure to have both stationary water (such as in barrels or other large containers) as well as portable (jugs, bottles, and other lightweight containers). There are advantages and tradeoffs for each option, but since you never know what emergency will strike—or when—being prepared for any situation is certainly ideal.
Water is a fairly heavy resource, weighing in at about 8 pounds per gallon. This makes large containers such as water barrels essentially unmovable. However, your stationary water is also cheaper per gallon and takes up less space than portable water. Portable water, on the other hand, constitutes any container 7 gallons or smaller. They are much lighter and easier to tote around, but takes up more space and will most likely cost more per gallon.
In reality, it is impossible to store as much clean water as you need. That being said, storing as much water as possible will only be an asset during an emergency. Every gallon and liter is important.
If you live near any kind of water source, having a filter and the ability to purify is something that certainly wouldn’t hurt having around. When a disaster forces you outdoors and you are unable to bring your stored water with you, manipulating the natural water you find around you will be a literal life saver. Filters are even an ideal companion on hikes or during camping trips.
Filtration is the process of removing organisms from the water, including protozoan cysts and bacteria. You can’t filter out all the viruses, but by combining filtered water with purification, you can effectively eliminate nearly every harmful thing found in outside water. Purification is the process of treating or killing the organisms in the water. Unlike filters, purification kills all microorganisms found in your water source, including viruses.
Other methods of creating clean water can come through boiling or distilling, chemicals such as Micropur, and UV light from tools like SteriPen. Keep in mind that filtration and purification are not reliable in terms of chemical contamination. If there are chemicals in your water source, you should revert back to your water storage.
In the winter time, snow and ice can also be used to give you water, but there are some caveats. First, snow picks up the impurities in the atmosphere, so it can be dirty. Find snow that is as pure as possible – but don’t eat it! Eating snow will cause your body temperature to drop and can increase dehydration. Eating snow does more harm than good. Instead, find a way to melt the snow or ice, preferably using fire so you can boil it and remove any pathogens that might be present. Otherwise, once you have melted ice and snow, your water filter will come in handy to make sure you’re drinking only clean water.
Since water is such an important resource, Emergency Essentials recommends that you have multiple sources of drinkable water. Stored water tanks and effective filtration or purification should both be present in your plan.