Thursday, December 5, 2013
It could happen because of severe winter weather that freezes pipes, or maybe an ice storm that tears down power lines and leaves the city's water pumps out of action. Or maybe an earthquake that breaks up the water supply lines. Or a huge storm like Hurricane Sandy that contaminates the water supply for days and weeks on end.
No matter what causes the water system to fail, the fact is that you can’t live very long without water. And if the city can’t deliver it to you, where are you going to get enough to live on?
And that raises this question: How much water do you think you consume each day? Under normal conditions, the average American consumes approximately 150 gallons of water per day. So if the water supply is suddenly cut off, ask yourself where you’re going to come up with 150 gallons of water every day so you can go on living as if nothing had happened.
If you live in a family of four, the amount of water the family consumes is about 600 gallons per day. Most of that water is wasted — 30 gallons per bath, 3-5 gallons per flush of the toilet, lots more that goes down the drain while washing hands and brushing teeth. But it adds up.
Now here’s the good news — Under absolute survival conditions, the amount of water you actually need to keep yourself alive is only about 1 to 2 gallons per day. The amount varies depending on the climate and your work load. I'm talking about water for drinking and cooking, not for washing anything (dishes, your body, etc.).
But the question still remains, where are you going to come up with a couple gallons of water per person per day?
As part of your emergency preparedness, you should focus on that amount for your water supply. The best strategy is to have a sufficient supply of drinkable water on hand so you are somewhat self sufficient.
There are a couple of reasons you want to already have it stowed away where you live. Water is heavy. It weighs nearly 8.5 pounds per gallon. You don’t want to have to run around with a bucket hoping to find a few gallons of water you can use. Not only does that leave you vulnerable to having to use water of questionable purity, but in an emergency situation you’ll be competing with everyone else for the limited and precious water supply.
It’s better to have your own stash of pure water, so you don’t have to worry about fighting so hard to survive. The best solution for most of us is to store water in heavy-duty 5 to 6-gallon containers. Companies like Coleman and Reliant make these and they’re sold in sporting goods stores. Containers that are cubical in shape stack nicely alongside and on top of each other. Since they hold only 5 gallons, they're fairly easy to move even when full. They’re dark blue, so they keep sunlight from degrading the water. And they’re tough enough that they won’t break easily.
I recommend getting as many of these containers as you can fit in your allotted space. Tuck them away in a closet, or under a bed, or in the corner of the garage. Fill them with fresh water right out of the tap, so it’s already been through the municipal water treatment system, and then add a dose of Stabilized Oxygen solution. It only takes a few drops to sanitize each gallon of water (follow product guidelines), and there is no taste or toxic chemicals to deal with. It will keep your water supply sanitary for more than 5 years, so it’s ideal for long-term storage. Stabilized Oxygen is available online from several sources.
You can survive a long time without food, but you need a constant water supply every day, so this is a very important component in emergency planning and preparation.