It is not an exaggeration to say water is the stuff of life. Outside of air, it is the one thing we need to continually consume. We can deal with irregularly consuming food, but not water. We deteriorate rapidly without a regular intake of good, clean water. Check out this article that details the serious issues with dehydration.
Here are the problems:
- Where to get it. As modern Americans we are used to clean water always being available. It is just a tap away. But what happens when the water stops flowing? If there is a major power disruption, those with wells will feel it immediately. If you don’t have a generator to power your pump, you are out of luck since very, very few people have hand pumps attached to their well. If you are on municipal water, and the grid goes down, as soon as the water that is in the elevated tank for your area is drained, you are out of luck, so what is there is distributed on a first drawn, you get it basis. Let’s say you decide to immediately draw water (if you saw the movie “The Road”, the first thing Viggo Mortensen’s character does when he sees the crisis arriving is fill his bathtub with water. While that is a good idea, how clean is your tub and do you even have a stopper to seal the drain? This is not something you can think about days into a crisis. Think about this right now:
- How much water do you have as a reserve right now – think of bottled water, juices and other beverages, though sugary drinks and beer can be net losses as your body processes the sugar and alcohol.
- Where is water available in your immediate area?
- How would you get water from that location back to your family?
- How would you store the water once you began transporting it back?
- How would make sure this water was safe to drink? Dysentery is a major problem in prolonged crisis situations.
If you don’t have a plan and the necessary resources to execute that plan before something happens, you are in serious trouble.
- How to Store It. There are more ways to store water than you can count. That said, some work better than others, and some can be problematic or downright dangerous.
Good Approaches (storing clean, ready-to-drink water):
Expensive: There are many water storage devices for sale that are designed for long term storage, but for most people this is expensive. If you have the money, you can find these online using simple searches for water storage. For example: Augason Farms™ Emergency Water Storage Kit.
One inexpensive solution (~$25) for a lot of emergency water, if you have one or more bathrooms with tubs, is to use the waterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage (up to 100 Gallons) in your tub(s) to hold clean water from your tap (well or municipal). For a short term solution (less than 4 months) this works extremely well. One disadvantage is that it is not portable, so if you need to move, you can only take the water you can carry.
Multi-gallon (2.5-5) bottles of spring water are now stocked by most supermarkets and SAMS, BJs, and Costco. This can get you started for up to 10-20 gallons but for large amounts, this quickly becomes expensive, rather than inexpensive.
Bad Approaches: Reusing existing water bottles (10 oz – 1 gallon) that most spring water and juices come in is not advisable long term since these containers have not been designed for reuse and water containing chlorine and fluoride (municipal) will leach out the DEHP (Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) or BPA and the longer the water is stored in them the more it leaches out. However, if they are all you have, and you plan on drinking the water relatively quickly, I wouldn’t hesitate to use them. Just understand the risks and minimize them (do not store municipal water in them for weeks before using).
- How to Purify It. The two issues you must address when getting water in the wild (lake, river, pond, stream, large standing water) is filtering it and sterilizing it. Some filtering methods act as an acceptable sterilization mechanism (e.g., LifeStraw Personal Water Filter or the Just Water filters originally designed for missionaries – Amazon). Standard carbon filtering mechanisms protected by cloth sieves to remove particulates and other solid matter will help, but the resultant water or any clean lake, river, pond, stream water ought to be boiled or treated with chemicals designed for the purpose such as unscented chlorine bleach, iodine (short duration only), or hydrogen peroxide. For more information on water purification see this resource.
I hope that helps. There is an infinite amount of information available online, but remember, once the power goes down, you will only have what you have printed out as references for decision making. Print and bind what you think you need to remember or want to use later.
For more information on local drinking water issues check out this EPA resource.
We will be going into more detail about water, if the time allows. But for now, we move on to Food.