Thursday, September 08, 2011

Emergency water.

Just back from the grocery store today, and I figured I'd post a thought about preparedness on a subject that frequently gets overlooked, at least among many of the people that I talk to. That subject is water.

Now everyone with half a brain is putting up a bit of food for possible emergencies. You don't even need to buy all of the exotic dehydrated foods or MREs. It's really just as simple as buying a few extra bags of rice or cans of meat with long shelf lives every time you get to the store, and rotating them out into your normal panty stock as you get newer stuff on each trip. Anyone can do it, and most people I know do practice at least some form of emergency food storage or surplus set-aside.

But water's the big one that most people tend to ignore, probably because it's so prevalent in our everyday lives. You turn on a tap and there it is, right? It's always been that way. But what happens when that tap no longer works because the municipal provider is off-line and/or your well pump falters for lack of electricity? (Even generators run out of gas eventually.) There's still water to be obtained, be it from local streams (if you live near any) or rainwater or a variety of other sources, but it's going to need to be treated before it can be consumed. Boiling is good, but it takes heat and time and reduces much of your water to steam that evaporates away if you're not careful. Various chemicals can be used, including household bleach with sodium hypochlorate (4-5 drops per gallon, more if the water's cloudy) but even 4-5 drops of bleach per gallon is going to leave that water tasting pretty bad. And while it's still better than no water at all, why stress yourself and bring morale down even more by having to drink foul-tasting water whenever you're thirsty? And if you've got kids, good luck getting them to drink that stuff.

That's why I stockpile quantities of instant tea, both iced and hot varieties. If you make iced tea out of that bleachy or iodine-flavored water, you barely notice the chemical taste. Got kids? Kool-aid works just as well. In fact, any flavor additive that can be mixed into your emergency drinking water is going to make it a lot more palatable and help you drink enough to stay effective. As such, every preparedness stash should have some. Murphy and I have many gallons of bottled water set aside (and rotated for freshness just like the foodstuffs) but it's not a finite supply and it doesn't mean that I'll be in a hurry to dump my full rain barrels absent some sort of radiological event upwind. That water too may wind up in use and if push comes to shove, we've got plenty of instant iced tea mix and bouillon cubes here. Murphy doesn't mind drinking out of puddles but me, I want something that at least doesn't taste like rain water off my roof, even if that's what it is.

Just a thought for your day.


  1. Good thinking. Flavor is a very valid approach to slightly unpleasant water.

  2. Ditto to what North said, I never thought of that.

  3. Have to laugh - you choose a time where it has been raining virtually non-stop for 4 days to post about lack of water...

  4. Good post. Water is important, I like filters also. A good picture (hand) pump would be handy if you had a fairly high water table.

  5. Remember that you have a significant water supply already tanked up in your water heater(s).

  6. Better ideas have came from the show 'Best Defense'.

    55 gal drum with lots of extras in it. Use the drum to hold water while the 5 gal buckets become everything from stools to commodes to water carriers.

    And then solar still, solar stove, a pump sprayer becomes a shower, etc..

    Just when you hear some bad weather or such comes, take the drum out and fill'er up.

  7. $20 idea- the "water bob". It's a clear plastic bladder you put in your bathtub while the water's still working and clean, and fill 'er up. It has a hand pump to get the water out into cups, pots etc. Supposed to keep the water covered and good to go for several weeks. A single water bob is supposed to hold 100 gallons, plus what's in your water heater.

  8. Two words: Big Berkey

    You can take that puddle water, or creek water, or river water, or whatever, pour it in the top, and you get clean drinking water out the bottom in about an hour.

    A 50-gallon food-grade plastic water drum in the basement (with some appropriate treatment) and a siphon pump is a fairly inexpensive way to have a large amount of emergency water on hand.