WATER ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
HERE’S HOW MUCH WATER YOU NEED AND HOW TO STORE IT
Did you know that in a widespread disaster, the first two public resources to shut down are almost always water and grid power?
While we glorious human beings can survive without electricity, we certainly cannot survive without water. The body uses water for digestion, transporting nutrients, building tissue, removing waste, and regulating body temperature. We also need water to enjoy a hot shower, feed our pets, cook, and even flush our toilets. In other words, it’s pretty darn important!
While the ability to go without water can also vary greatly between individuals, on average, without water, you would only last 3 days, which honestly really isn't that long, folks! That’s why the best time to prepare is NOW.
How much water do I need?
If you’re just getting started, here’s the golden water rule:
Store at least one gallon of water per person per day for a total of three days.
This means that if you are a family of 3, you should store at least 9 gallons of water. Once you get a good grip on three days, store enough for two weeks or even a month for added peace of mind.
NOTE: Recommended quantities may differ based on individual needs and climate. For instance, children, nursing mothers, and people who are ill will require more water. The same goes for all of you living in very hot climates; you’ll require double the amount.
How should I store my water?
According to the CDC, unopened commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable source of water in an emergency. You can find large gallons of bottled water at your local grocery store or even online. Keep these bottles in their original containers and do not open them until you need to use them. Remember to observe the expiration or “use by” date.
What if I want to prepare my own water?
For large quantities of water, sometimes it’s more convenient to prepare your own stockpile. If you’re storing water for a long period of time, to ensure that the water stays safe, it’s best to use FDA-approved food-grade storage containers.
Here are some of our nifty, watery favorites:
Rather DIY it?
If you plan to upcycle old plastic containers, opt for two-liter plastic soft drink bottles, not old plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Why? Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Before adding your water, make sure that you thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water and then sanitize it with a solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water. Yes, this seems like a lot, but being able to collect and store good, drinkable, and clean water is essential and will help you not go thirsty during an emergency.
Some additional storage tips:
- Grab one of your favorite markers and a sticker and label each container as “drinking water” and include the date that you stored it.
- Do not store your containers in areas where toxic substances, such as gasoline or pesticides, are present.
- Keep your containers away from direct sunlight. The best water storage temperature is around 50-70°F.
- Since this water was not commercially bought, replace it every six months.
Yikes, an emergency strikes!
Let’s say you’ve used all of your stored water and there are no other reliable clean water sources. Your tap water works, but that water is looking a wee bit suspicious.
This is where preparing to treat water comes into play. For your own safety, it’s super important to treat all questionable water before using it for drinking, food washing or preparation, washing dishes, and brushing your teeth. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain germs that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis - all big NO-NOs.
According to the CDC, there are three things that you can do:
1. Boil your water
- If you still have power and access to a stove, the best way to treat water is to simply bring it to a boil for 1 minute and if you are at elevations above 6,500 feet, 3 minutes. This will kill all disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. In certain instances, officials will even issue a Boil Water Advisory. For better tasting water, consider pouring it from one container to another and then allowing it to stand for a few hours. You can also add a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of boiled water to remove the flat taste.
- To kill most viruses and bacteria, you can use regular unscented household bleach. Add 8 drops or a little less than 1/8 of a teaspoon of 5%-8.25% unscented household bleach to 1 gallon water, mix well, and let sit for 30 minutes before using.
- You can also use chlorine dioxide, more commonly known as Aquamira, to kill off any bacteria. All you need to do is place 7 drops of AQUAMIRA (Part A) and 7 drops Activator (Part B) in a mixing cap then let the mixture react for 5 minutes. Once that is done, you can fill an empty container with your 1 quart (1 liter) of untreated water, add the contents of the cap, shake to mix, and let stand for 15 minutes before achieving bacteria, parasite, and virus-free water.
- Last but not least, you can filter your water. Thanks to technology there are some pretty nifty and even portable water filters out there that are as small as a straw, making them extra handy for on-the-go travels, evacuations, and emergencies.
Water truly is the molecule of life that keeps us going. Let’s take steps together now to ensure that we have enough of this amazing good stuff before an emergency strikes.