Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available, or your regular water source could become contaminated. In this episode, we’ll talk about how you can prepare yourself for an emergency by creating and storing a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs.
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Emergency Water Storage
Keith Thomas 00:00
Following a disaster clean drinking water may not be available, or your regular water source could become contaminated. In this episode, we'll talk about how you can prepare yourself for an emergency by creating and storing a supply of water that will meet your family's needs. Welcome to typical prepping the podcast dedicated to everyday readiness and disaster preparedness. We're here to help those folks who seek to start their own disaster preparedness plan, or those who have gotten started, but are not quite sure where or how to take the next steps. Each week, I'll present a disaster preparedness topic with actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to start or grow your personal disaster preparations. Thanks for stopping by to listen today. Hey, folks, I'm Keith and welcome to typical prepping the podcast dedicated to everyday readiness and disaster preparedness. In this episode, we'll be discussing collecting and storing water for your household. You know, a top priority for emergency preparedness is water storage. Clean safe drinking water is absolutely critical for survival. So what is the best way to store water for emergencies? What containers are best for water storage? How do you treat water for long term? These are each important questions to understand to ensure you have a safe supply of drinking water when disaster strikes. Starting an emergency water storage for your family doesn't have to be a daunting task. And emergency water storage is critical for every emergency plan. According to the survival rule of three, you cannot survive more than three days without water. Water is easy to set aside. Start small and build your storage. The amount of water stored will greatly depend upon your personal preparation goals and dependent upon the type of emergencies that happen in your area. We'll discuss how to determine the amount of water needed, What types of containers are suitable for water storage, and how to clean and disinfect your water storage containers.
Calculating Your Water Needs
We first need to decide how much water we'll store will this be a three day supply? Are we storing for two weeks or a month? Or are we looking to store water for a longer period of time? The experts say we need one gallon of water per person per day. That technically means each person in your household will have half a gallon of water for drinking and a half a gallon of water for hygiene purposes per day. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily from water and other beverages. However, individual needs may vary depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. Also take into account children. nursing mothers and sick people may need more water. A medical emergency might require additional water. If you live in a warm climate, more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double. If you're just beginning I would recommend you start out storing a three day supply of water and then build up on that supply. The easiest but slightly more expensive way to reach your water storage go is to simply buy prepackaged bottled water. It's clean, well sealed, and comes in food grade plastic bottles. Bottled water is highly portable, which makes it handy if you need to bug out. This is a great option. If you have limited space in your home or apartment. Just buy a bunch of packages and store them under beds. For example one 35 count package of water provides about 4.6 gallons. That's enough water to last one person four days. Do you want two weeks of water. You'll need four packages.
Containers Suitable for Water Storage
If you decide to store water in your own containers to get started. You must have suitable containers to store your water in. In most cases, you can start with used clean and sanitized juice jugs or two liter bottles. I will warn you against using the one gallon milk jugs as we've found that over the period of about a year they begin to leak. And I'm sure this is due to the composition of plastics that it's made out of. And those are made to break down in a landfill. We have found that over about a year to a year and a half, those will start leaking water. Now water does not have an expiration date. However, the environment in which is stored can alter its usability over time. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting storage containers. Always use BPA free clean food grade plastic containers. Use opaque or translucent containers and keep them away from sunlight. Don't store your containers directly on concrete. It's believed that you have chemicals that will leach into the plastic from the concrete or cause the plastic to break down quicker. Make sure containers are sealed tightly. Have portable containers ready for easy access and rotate your clean water supply every year. The containers you use must be food grade containers. This can be determined by finding the chasing arrows symbol. Chasing arrow symbol is just what it sounds like. It's arrows chasing each other but they are in a triangular shape. So once you find the triangular chasing arrow symbol, more importantly, the number inside the chasing arrow symbol determines whether these are food grade or something else. Food grade plastics are marked with a number one, number two or number four, and usually found on the bottom of the container. Any container marked with a number three, number five, number six or number seven are not food grade and should not be used.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Containers
Now whether you're using brand new storage containers or used juice jugs or two liter soda bottles or large drums, any storage vessel used to store water must be cleaned and disinfected before adding water to them. I'm going to outline the steps here for cleaning and disinfecting your water storage containers. The first thing you want to do is wash the container with mild soap and rinse the container thoroughly. Then you want to add one teaspoon or 64 drops of unscented bleach per one quart of water and pour this mixture bleach mixture into your clean container covered tightly and shake well until the entire inside of the container is Coated. If you're cleaning 55 gallon drums or well even 20, 30, 40, or 55 gallon drums. You can roll them over on their side and just roll them around in the driveway or in the yard. Once the entire inside of the container is coated, pour out the mixture and let them air dry. Once they're air dried, you're now ready to add water to your clean and sanitize container. Be sure to tightly seal the lid after filling the container. If you're planning for long term storage, you'll want to use larger containers. These can be 20, 30, 40, or 55 gallon containers. Many times you'll be able to find these containers in use condition. And as we just discussed, check to make sure that these are food grade containers and once contained food products. I've been able to find these containers on local online marketplaces that sell them for 15 to $25. Most of the containers that I've found had contained syrup for making sodas. Most of these sellers advertised these containers as being cleaned and ready to fill with water. However, I've found that they have indeed been cleaned, but still need to be disinfected following the steps we discussed earlier.
Long Term Water Storage
And as I earlier stated, your water supply should be rotated yearly. However, when using larger containers, you can mitigate this rotation by using a product called "Water Preserver Concentrate", the water preserver concentrate will allow you to only have to rotate your water supply every five years. I provided a link in the show notes for purchasing the water preserver concentrate. Another consideration when using larger containers is to make sure that your containers are in the place where you plan to store the water before you fill them. This is due to the weight of these containers after being filled. Just as an example a 55 gallon barrel filled with water will weigh in excess of 450 pounds. I also recommend that when filling these containers, you use a lead free hose and these can be easily found in the RV or camping section in most department stores. You'll also need a bung wrench for removing or replacing the cap for the bung hole. And these larger containers will also require some type of pump or siphon in order to use the stored water. And I've provided links in the show notes for purchasing these accessories.
Backup Water Sources
Now in the event of a disaster, you may be able to find many backup water sources within or around the home. These may include your refrigerator icemaker, the toilet tank, a swimming pool or hot tub, your home's water heater. Or if you've been preparing or made an emergency plan, you may have been collecting rainwater and know where there are nearby lakes, ponds and streams. These can all be used as backup water sources. Although some of these sources may require purification before use. Nonetheless, remember the survival rule of three you cannot survive more than three days without water. So let's discuss these backup water sources. Many refrigerators have automatic ice makers that produce bins of ice. Although these ice makers don't use a reservoir to store water, the full ice bins can be emptied into a pan or other container to collect the water from the melted ice. Obviously, the water produced from the melted ice is safe to drink. Another source of clean water during an emergency is the toilet reservoir tank. You should never use water from the toilet bowl as this water can contain harmful bacteria. The reservoir tank is the unit behind you when you sit down. This reservoir contains clean water that can be used. If you are serious about being prepared, you must never place cleaning agents such as bleach, ammonia, or a bowl cleaner cake inside the toilet reservoir tank. If you have reservations about drinking the water from the toilet reservoir tank use it for washing or sanitation or distill it before drinking. Should you have a swimming pool or hot tub this water can be used for Washing and sanitation needs. Swimming pool and hot tub water should not be used for drinking. The only way to purify pool water is to distill it. Distillation can be achieved by boiling water to produce water vapor, which leaves the most contaminants behind and turns back into water that is safe for drinking. Your home water heater contains clean water that's safe to drink. Most water heaters have an average capacity of about 30 gallons. This is enough drinking water for three people for 10 days. It's a good idea to learn how to drain your home's water heater in case of an emergency. To drain the home water heater, you'll need the following; a clean garden hose with a female fitting on one end, a flathead screwdriver, clean containers for the water and gloves. These gloves are to protect your hands in case the water heater is hot. Water Heaters can either be gas or electric. Turn off the power to the heating element. If it's a gas water heater, the pilot light should go off. You may also need to turn off the gas coming into the water heater. If the city's tap water is contaminated, you don't want to let it into your water heater. You can turn off the cold water supply going to the water heater. You can do this by shutting off the cold water supply valve which is usually positioned above the water heater. You can also turn off the main water supply coming into your house. Once the water heater is cool, which could take a few hours, take the hose and find the drain valve at the bottom of the unit. Attach one end of the hose to the drain valve and the other end over the container. Open the valve either with a screwdriver or about twisting the drain valve. If nothing comes out right away, there may be some vacuum pressure. You can relieve this vacuum by opening the pressure relief valve near the top of the water heater. This will allow air to flow in. You can then close the relief valve back up when the water is freely flowing out the hose. At this point continue to fill up your containers and shut off the drain when you're done. When the emergency is passed and services are restored, remember to turn your cold water supply back on. Also if you shut off the main water supply into your house, be sure to turn the main water supply back on as well. As a warning draining the water heater should be done only in an emergency, when you have no other water sources. Make sure you read the manufacturer's instructions on your tank. Each water heater may be different. It is possible on some water heaters for the heating element to burn out if there's no water in the tank. And while draining the water, wear gloves to avoid burning or scalding. Now collecting rainwater is also an option, but some states prohibit it. Check the laws in your state before using this method. I recommend you purchase 15 or 55 gallon barrels that can be left outside for the next rainstorm. You can purchase a gutter kit that fits on your gutters to divert water from your downspout to the rain barrel. Rainwater harvesting is an easy and budget friendly way to collect water to create long term water storage. Because it comes from the heavens, and it's sitting in a barely protected barrel outside, you want to filter and sanitize rainwater before drinking it. Rainwater can be tainted by airborne contaminants ranging from dust to bird droppings so purify it before using it for drinking. Some people use rainwater for hygiene and save their stored tap water for drinking. Lakes ponds and streams can become water sources in an emergency. It's best to try and find flowing water rather than stagnant water sources. Avoid water that is murky or has algae. Lakes or ponds in subdivisions are not safe for drinking, as they are usually full of chemicals from Lawn pesticides and other building materials. You should never drink floodwater unpurified water can contain any number of dangerous organisms, such as E coli, salmonella, and giardia. Drinking contaminated water can result in vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or stomach cramps, and can become life threatening. Drinking from an unsafe water source can also cause serious diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid. If you're not sure about the water safety in an emergency situation, always purify your water.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that learning to store water for emergencies is a skill every person should learn. There are any number of potential disasters that can throw us into a situation where we may wish we had been better prepared. According to the CDC, they recommend two weeks worth of water for an emergency situation. The average person uses about a gallon of water a day. Be sure to stick with BPA free food grade containers made with plastics number one, number two or number four, and be sure to take proper precautions when disinfecting and treating water containers for storage. If you're using larger containers, make sure you use a lead free hose for filling, that you acquire a bung wrench, and have some type of pump or siphon in order to remove the stored water from the container. Make sure all plastic containers are stored at least two inches off of concrete floors. Remember, you can start small and build your water supply as needed. Don't forget about alternative water sources, many of which can be found in or around the home. That's it for this week. Thanks for listening. Join me on next week's episode when the topic will be how to filter and purify water. In that episode, we'll be discussing the options for filtering and purifying water for your emergency water storage. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with your friends and family. leave us a review on Apple podcasts. This really helps the show and gets our message out to others looking to start or improve their prepping skills. If you found value in this content, feel free to leave me a donation at; buy me a coffee.com/typical prepping. Your donation helps with the production costs of the show so I can continue to bring you more amazing content. Also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Until next time, stay safe and be prepared!