Whether you’re a hardcore prepper or just prefer being ready for a minor inconvenience, planning ahead when it comes to water storage may pay off when things go wrong.
Water is the source of life, and having some extra in an emergency may be a wise choice. Americans aren’t strangers to water emergencies, as Mississippi flood victims experienced firsthand in August. The governor declared a state of emergency and called in the national guard when Jackson’s main water treatment facility began to fail. The faltering system left many without running water.
Those looking to be ready for just such an emergency should take a few precautions when collecting water for storage. Here’s a look at a few things to remember when getting that emergency H2O situation under control.
Those honoring that Boy Scout motto of being prepared should also prepare to store their water safely. There are numerous water-born sicknesses as well as illness-causing pests that might have you rethinking your water storage and collection system.
“Contaminated water supplies have been responsible for major outbreaks of severe gastrointestinal illnesses such as gastroenteritis and infections caused by the protozoan parasites Cryptosporidium and Giardia,” BetterHealth.com notes. “Gastrointestinal illnesses can be particularly severe for the very young, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.”
Being ready for an emergency does no good if you make your whole crew sick in the process. And remember: if you’re using emergency water, it’s probable there will be no trips to a flushing toilet. Any stomach bugs may require a trip to a latrine – certainly no fun in this type of situation.
Toughing out stomach ailments in an emergency situation may only add to a stressful situation, so correct storage precautions are vital.
Having a few cases of bottled water may be one of the easiest ways to be prepared for an emergency. If that water gets cut off for a few hours, grabbing a bottle of Fiji or Aquafina may be the best way to quench that thirst.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends storing at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days for drinking and sanitation. Those who want to be even more prepared may want to store up to a two-week supply or more if possible. Some other considerations include:
Store water reserves in a location with a temperature from 50-70 degrees.
Observe expiration dates for any store-bought water.
Keep that water cache out of direct sunlight.
Avoid areas with toxic substances, such as gasoline or pesticides.
You don’t have to head to Wal-Mart or Costco to create a nice water storage system. If you’re looking to ditch those small plastic bottles for something that may last longer, sanitation should play a major role in your hydration game.
Experts recommend food-grade water storage containers so that toxic substances can’t be transferred. FDA-approved containers are available at surplus or camping supply stores. Make sure your water container or reservoir:
Has a top that can be closed tightly and keep out airborne germs.
Is durable and breathable. The CDC recommends avoiding glass.
Make sure the container has a narrow neck or opening for easy pouring when disaster (or a minor inconvenience) hits.
When using your own bottles, don’t just grab the garden hose and fill up. A few extra steps are needed to ensure cleanliness. Wash the container and rinse thoroughly. The CDC also recommends sanitizing them with a solution by mixing a teaspoon of unscented household bleach (containing 5–9% sodium hypochlorite) in one quart of water.
Next, cover the container tightly and shake – letting the solution come in contact with all inside surfaces. Wait at least 30 seconds, and then pour the solution out. Then either let the container dry entirely or rinse with safe water. After all that, you’re ready to fill ‘er up and secure the container’s top.
It’s also a good idea to label those containers as “drinking water” and include storage dates. Replace stored water every six months so that your supply remains fresh and free of illness-inducing bacteria.
Bigger Systems and Additional Considerations
Those looking to ramp things up, even more may want to consider water collection systems, letting mother nature play a significant role in contributing to your H2O hunt.
Larger storage containers can reach thousands of dollars but offer a much longer supply of that necessary life-giving elixir. However, simpler systems don’t have to break the bank at all. Harvesting rainwater via gutters, catchment systems, and cisterns are becoming more popular as Americans for irrigation, and other household uses.
Rainwater can be used as a primary source of water or as a backup source. WaterCashe.com offers a few advantages of these types of water collection as well as some side benefits:
You have total control over your water supply. City restrictions don’t apply.
Promotes self-sufficiency and helps conserve water.
Rain collection reduces stormwater runoff and can help solve drainage problems.
The simple technology is inexpensive and easy to maintain.
Humans can go only for a few days without water. Knowing how to store water long-term is crucial for survival. When life goes haywire, having a safe source to take a few drinks and staying refreshed can literally be a lifesaver. Grab those plastic containers and get to filling or find a nice spot for that case of Ozarka. A few sips can go a long way.