Posts Tagged ‘Water Storage’

Foundational Element 3 – Supplies

When it comes to preparing, supplies are the first thing people think of.  Many folks imagine wild-eyed survivalists in camo with a stash of MRE’s and canned goods surrounded by a pile of ammunition.  In general, it is also one of the first things a new prepper focuses on.  While I absolutely believe a prepper should spend as much or more time on learning new skills and developing their fortitude as they do buying and storing supplies, supplies definitely have their place.

So what is that place?

While there are a million things you can acquire, all supplies have one thing in common:  they buy you time for life to return to normal.  They allow you to take care of yourself and your family for a period of time when you might not be able to get to the store due to a hurricane or ice storm.  Jumper cables allow you to get your car running until you can replace your alternator or battery.  Flashlights and candles allow you to wait out the power outage in relative comfort.

To examine the concept in another way, I think about one of my mentors, a 20-year Army Special Forces veteran (Green Beret).  While he might have supplies stored, he needs fewer, because he has skills that allow him to gather the things he needs to survive on his own.  For example, while I may store 50 gallons of water, he stores only 5, because he knows 10 ways to readily access clean drinking water.  Having more gallons on hand gives me a time cushion for the situation to return to normal or to allow me to find more.

So what should I store?

As supplies are essentially there to buy time, I recommend preparing your supplies in time increments.  For example, your first goal should be to have 3 days worth of supplies for you and your family.  Then you can shoot for 7 days, then 30 days, until you have what you feel comfortable with.  Don’t fall into the trap some do, which is focusing on getting a year’s worth of one supply, but none of another! 

For example, let’s take a look at one of my earlier failures.  One of my first supply purchases was 6 months worth of rice.  While that might sound ok, I now realize how foolish I was in that purchase.  First, I never once thought about how I would cook my rice if I ever needed it.  Second, I never thought about where I would acquire the water I needed to cook my rice.  Third, I never thought about the fact that 6 months of eating nothing but rice would likely lead to rice poisoning.  Just kidding!  But it would lead to appetite fatigue, and I would likely never want to eat rice for the rest of my life.  Fourth, while nothing but rice might supply my caloric needs, it wouldn’t supply the complete array of vitamins and minerals the human body needs to function at its best.

Seeing my failure, it is obvious it is better to store what one needs incrementally (meaning, store 3 days worth of each of the 6 categories, then 7 days, then 30 days, etc).  In order of importance, this is how I recommend you gather your supplies:

  1. Water – Water is essential, for drinking, sanitation, cooking, and survival.  A bare minimum would be to store 1 gallon per person, per day.  So if you have 4 in your family, and you wanted to prepare for a 3-day event, you would need 12 gallons of water.  As water is bulky, and can go bad, we’ll explore strategies for the higher quantities needed for longer events (2 weeks or more) in future posts
  2. Food – Food is also essential.  Although the human body can survive far longer without food than water, it’s not fun being hungry, and people are not as effective.  There are a number of ways to determine the appropriate quantity.  For example, I use a base of 2500 calories per person, per day.  While not exact, that could also equate to 2-3 pounds of food per person per day.  If you are really organized, you could also plan meals just like you normally would, such as 3 meals and 2 snacks per person per day.  We’ll spend quite a bit of time discussing storing food in future posts, as a good food storage program can save you quite a bit of money as well as being great in a time of need.  I also include a good multi-vitamin under food.
  3. Light – I’m sure some hard-core preppers or survivalists would take exception to me breaking light out   separately and putting it ahead of some other things.  However, I believe light is essential in maintaining a positive attitude, especially if you have children.  I also place it high because for a minimal expenditure you can supply your light needs for at least 30 days.
  4. Shelter/Warmth – Losing a home is one of the worst imaginable experiences.  Making plans for an emergency involving both staying at home and leaving your home (or being away from home) is vitally important.  I also include the ability to start a fire here, as well as making sure you have sufficient ways to keep warm, such as emergency or regular blankets, sleeping bags, and tarps or tents.
  5. First Aid – Every home should have a solid first aid kit and as long of your standard prescriptions as you can manage.  Optional but great to have items also include SAM Splint and Celox or other clotting agent..
  6. Toiletries/Sanitation – These items can be easy to forget.  Don’t!  Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygeine items, soap and shampoo are all toiletries and sanitation items you should have on hand.  Like having sufficient light, being clean provides a morale boost in a bad situation, especially among teenagers.  (Mom, what do you mean I can’t wash my hair?)
  7. Entertainment/Other – Have a deck of cards, a checker board or Monopoly game, and some books available.  Keep some toys handy for small children.  Some emergencies specialize in boredom (the calm before the storm, waiting for someone to plow the roads and the like), so be prepared to combat it!

Remember, supplies are time.  And the more supplies you have, the more time you will be able to go before an emergency turns into a crisis.


05 2010

Water Storage Part 3 – Filters and Purifiers

Alright, one more post on water and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming! 

Water weighs more than 8 pounds per gallon, and is bulky.  Thus, any storage program is eventually going to run up against challenges.  Large amounts of water are generally not portable, and different solutions need to be examined for people who need potable water on the go.

Water filters and purifiers, while similar, have some important differences.  A filter is likely to be more portable, though slightly less effective, as they do not rid water of viruses.  You can find water purification methods from a 20-gallon filter straw suitable for your Car Bag or 72-hour kit to a 12000 Gallon Big Berkey Household Filter System.

While boiling is still the #1 method to guarantee perfect drinking water, a water purifier such as the Berkey’s (with the black filters) will remove most of the heavy metals and other contaminants that a filter will not. Thus, if you don’t have the ability to boil water every time you need some, a gravity-fed home purifier  is a good solution to provide sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

While I don’t have a Berkey system yet, it is on the top half of my list of supplies I’d like to.  In a pinch, I have a Katadyn Hiker Pro in my hiking/camping gear that would provide the wife and I sufficient water in an emergency.  I also have Potable Aqua (Iodine Tablets, basically) in my Car Bag; I wouldn’t rely on it as a primary source of drinking water, but it provides some redundancy as we talked about yesterday (The Rule of 3).

If you want even more information regarding water, this article by Grandpappy is one of the most thorough I’ve ever read.  Even though I don’t agree with everything he writes on his site, his basic survival articles are well-written and heavily researched and I could likely spend a month on his site absorbing quality information!

Finally, one of the great folks on the Survivalist Boards found this item on creating your own Berkey Water System using just the filter elements and 5-gallon plastic buckets (saving about $100 in the process!).  I’ve printed it out and am moving toward making one as a podcast project for Advice and Beans!


05 2010

Water Purification: Boiling, Filtering, Bleaching

Within an hour of the water main break in Boston, many grocery stores had sold out of bottled water. There was an altercation at the local BJ’s over water.   A couple of million people who are now on a ‘boil alert’ are discovering the foundation of modern prepping is adequate access to clean water.

To be clear, I’ll say it again!  Water needs to be on the top of your list of preparation supplies.  As I mentioned yesterday, Ready.gov suggests having at least a 72 hour supply of water, with 3 gallons stored for each person in your home.  I’d more than double that and suggest a seven day supply, or seven gallons for each person in the house.

My wife and I currently store 30 gallons of stabilized water and we keep at least another 10-15 gallons on hand in either bottled water or one-gallon jugs in a little cooler we have in our basement.  We use the bottled water regularly and buy more as needed.  My goal is to double the amount of stored water we have over the course of the next year.

However, as one of my friends (I’ll refer to him as Scout on the website, as he is an Eagle Scout, and quite proficient in the ways of the wild!) says quite often, every prep we make should contribute to ‘The Rule of 3’.  Simply, this means that we should have 3 sources of every item or supply we are counting on in an emergency.  For example, when it comes to being able to start a fire, 3 sources might be a Bic lighter, a magnesium fire starter, and a Fire Piston. (Nice article here on the fire piston, h/t Instapundit)

So how do we do that with water?  Well, after storing water, a good suggestion is to store a gallon of plain bleach, without any of the scents available nowadays (As Clorox once advertised a gallon of their bleach is the equivalent of 3800 gallons of drinking water!).  First, find a clean container, such as a gallon jug that held water previously.  Fill with your suspect water.  Then add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water, and double that if the water is cloudy.  You can use a handkerchief , a washcloth or even a t-shirt as a pre-filter to remove any large debris.   Wait 30 minutes or so before drinking to let the bleach do its thing.

The drawbacks to bleach disinfection of water is that it doesn’t kill everything.  Additionally, most water purification methods don’t do anything about chemicals and heavy metals that might be in the water.  With this warning, do not ever use flood water as your base, as flood water can contain a gajillion chemicals, fuel, and other toxic items! 

That being said, in a water emergency your hot water heater can be a source of a significant amount of water, assuming the incoming lines are still clean (or haven’t been used since the event requiring you to search out water!).  You can still treat this as suspect water and disinfect as you would above.

The oldest method of water purification also remains one of the best ways to decontaminate water:  boiling.  While many suggest different boiling times for water, I agree with this post at SurvivalTopics that if you bring water to a rolling boil, you’ll have killed 99% of bacteria.  If you still have power or the ability to hold the boil longer, feel free, but in many cases if you are boiling water for drinking, fuel could also be a priority.

As this has gotten a little long, we’ll discuss another option for water purification, and that is filtration, in our next post!

Update:  The conservation of water efforts in Nashville are not having enough of an effect, says the city.

It’s also interesting to note that the average water usage daily is 170 gallons.  Remember that when deciding how much you can store:  more is better!

A high-five to my friends at Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria and Pub mentioned in the article for their good efforts!


05 2010

Emergency Water Preparations

One of Nashville’s water treatment facilities is down due to the flooding, and local government says water should be used for cooking and drinking only.  Boston had a water main break that had officials suggesting people boil their tap water to be sure it was safe to drink.  Many things can go wrong with a water supply, and the time to prepare alternate water sources is now, not when something bad happens.

Thus, while it was going to be at least another week before I got into posts on water storage preparations, I think it’s important enough to move up the schedule.

At a bare minimum, Ready.gov suggests having one gallon of water available per person for 3 days.  As a minimum, I would suggest enough for 7 days (28 gallons for a 4-person family) to handle events like the two described above. 

An easy way to do this is to buy spring water at Walmart, usually at about a dollar a gallon.  However, be prepared to rotate your water at least once a year.  Meaning, drink water from your water storage, and when you finish a gallon, fill it back up with good tap water (or replace it, if you like), and repeat.

So I don’t have to fiddle with rotating, I use specific water storage containers, similar to these. Then, I add a water saver solution that allows the water to be stored safely for up to 5 years.

I’ll discuss other options tomorrow, such as where in your home you can find water that you might not think of, as well as using bleach, boiling, and other methods of making water safe to drink.

All that said, I highly recommend everyone go out today and stock some water away now, before you need it.


05 2010