Saturday, March 12, 2011

Being Prepared - Water

Next to air for breathing, I would say water is second-most physical thing we need to survive. Our bodies are made up of so much water. We use it in so many ways--for play, for cooking, for cleaning, etc.

You never fully realize how much you depend on the water from your tap until the day you go to take a shower and the water company has shut off the water while they repair a pipe. Or maybe your neighbor dug up a line while trying to move earth for that fancy deck. Or maybe it's just something as simple as your pipes have frozen up.

My point here is that it does not have to be a "disaster scenario" for you to be without water. In our subdivision it's happened several times and it is one big inconvenience.

If you do not have your own well (as most of us don't) you might consider storing some water. It's not difficult to do and while it will take up some space (you might need to be creative here), even just a few bottles will come in handy during those times.

Here are some water storage tips I have picked up over the years.

~ Most emergency sites/sources/etc. recommend you store ONE (1) gallon of water per person, per day. Most adults will drink at least 1/2 gallon per day, and use more for cleaning, cooking, etc. Don't forget about your furry friends either!

~ If possible, keep at least enough to get your family through 72 hours. If you want more, you can build up one week at a time until you get to a point you feel that you have enough.

~ If you store water from the tap, be sure to use food-grade (PETE) containers. (I do recommend you not use milk jugs or materials similar because they break down too quickly and will leak! I have had this happen before). Containers like 2-ltrs are good storage material.

~ Some sites recommend you stay away from juice containers, especially from pasteurized juices because of increased opportunities for bacteria to be in the water. My thought is that if you are going to use these, perhaps clean them well and use those particular jugs for toilets, hard cleaning jobs, etc. and save others for drinking water.) DO NOT use non-food containers to store water (ie shampoo, detergents, etc.) to keep chances of ingestion to a minimum.

~ Store water away from too much light and heat. You should also not store your water directly on the floor (especially if concrete). Use a carpet pad or even a flattened cardboard box to set the bottles on.

~ Clean, sanitize and rinse all containers prior to use. You can boil them, but personally, I wash them in hot, sudsy water, then use a solution of 9 parts water/1 part bleach to sanitize, then rinse thoroughly and fill immediately. Seal tight. If you want, you could even use a tape around cap to ensure it will remain sealed.

~ MARK your bottles (even store-bought ones) with a sharpee. I typically write the month and the year on them so I know when they need to be rotated out. You should not let your water sit in storage for more than 1 year.

~ Consider using different sized containers for different sized jobs. Dishes and cleaning will require more water, but you only need a bit to flush a toilet. If you have different sizes you can accommodate the task and keep other bottles sealed up (not to mention, having to heft a too-big bottle around).

~ When you open it, if for consuming, you can boil the water (make sure it's a rolling boil for at least 20 mins) or you can add a tiny bit of plain (unscented) household bleach (see below).

~ If your water tastes "stale" you can remedy this by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another clean container to "re-oxigenate" it.

This ratio chart for adding bleach to water to "clean" it comes from Food Storage 101 by Peggy Layton.

If your water is clear:
1 quart water + 2 drops household (plain) bleach
1 gallon water + 8 drops household (plain) bleach
5 gallons water + 1/2 teaspoon household (plain) bleach

If your water is cloudy:
1 quart water + 4 drops household (plain) bleach
1 gallon water + 16 drops household (plain) bleach
5 gallons water + 1 teaspoon household (plain) bleach

Up next, some personal notes and alternatives to help you conserve water.


  1. I forgot about the milk jugs breaking down...I have several filled down stairs...ugh - nevertheless, we have sealed bought water to drink and hope to only have to use the filled jug waters for cleaning/household things.

    Thanks for the bleach info - I'll print that out.

  2. Kim, I recommend you keep them somewhere they won't get squished, that way you at least have them. Then as you can, replace them.

    That's what we are doing too. Purchased water for drinking and the tap water for cleaning/etc. :) Great minds.