Water is essential to survival and being water prepared will help you survive an emergency or disaster.
However, water preparedness is often minimized in importance in emergency preparations. It is important that you don’t ration water, unless you are required to do so. Your body needs water more than food, and this should be a top concern in your preparedness.
If you read some of the earthquake scenarios, you should have idea of how critical water is, and how likely it may become limited or inaccessible in an emergency. You should have also noted how much longer it will take to restore potable water service to an earthquake devastated area than it will to restore electrical power.
As a result, you should begin to understand that water for three days doesn’t cut it. Even a week isn’t enough.
Water Prepared - Rule of Thumb
The basic rule of thumb for emergency water storage is one gallon of water per person per day. This is just for drinking and use in food preparation, and really basic sanitation. If you’re really conservative you could even use a small amount for brushing your teeth.
My strong recommendation is to have, whenever possible, a minimum of two weeks’ worth of emergency water storage. For my family of six, being water prepared equates to six gallons per day times 14 days, or 84 gallons, on hand.
The goal should be at least of four weeks of water per person. That is at least 28 gallons per person. Storing that much water is a challenge, especially if you live in very limited space.
In addition to the actual water you store, you need water purification filters as well. The stored water will get you through the initial disaster and days or weeks immediately following it. But you will still need to get water after that. You might be able to lug a container to a public water dispensary, but it’s best to not count on that.
Just as at least two methods of cooking are recommended, you should have at least two types, ways, or means to filter and purify water to make it suitable for drinking. While you may have actual water storage of a month (or longer), it is vital you have options for long-term drinking water.
Water Prepared - Filtration and Purification
Did you read some of the earthquake scenarios…where culinary water may not be restored for three months or more?
Becoming water prepared is not just critical, it's a matter of survival.
At six gallons a day, for 90 days, my family would need 540 gallons. That would be 10 of the 55-gallon drums, or 108 of the 5-gallon containers. I’m not sure where I could even put that many containers.
This is my goal, and my recommendation. Store enough water to get you through a month, and then have several means to make water safe to drink after that. After using the 30-days of water storage you can be using the empty containers to gather and store water, especially if water is unreliable. Your various methods of filtering and purifying water can then be used on the water you’ve been collecting, as well as new water sources.
As part of our emergency equipment I have purchased several water filters. Among the filters are water bottles with built-in filters, filter straws, backpacking pump-style filters, and a filter with a UV sanitizer.
The best time of year I’ve found to purchase water filters has been at Black Friday sales. I have also found great deals at large, membership warehouse stores, but these stores do not carry the filters year-round so it’s kind of a hit and miss. Other options are outdoor retail stores (including online options) that have sales during the spring and summer months. I have also found the rare deal in clearance, usually at the beginning of the year.
For us, the biggest water-related post-disaster challenge will be to locate water than can be filtered for use. Near our current home, a small river is less than 500 feet away. Hopefully it will still be running after an earthquake. I suspect it will be, although I’ve read accounts of springs and streams drying up, or even increasing flow, for a time after a large earthquake.
Most commercial water filters will filter out contaminants from questionable water and make it safe to drink.
Water bottles with built-in filters and filter straws are great for personal use, but lousy when it comes to purifying a larger quantity for use in cooking or to share with others. This is where pump-style water filters can be more useful.
Besides commercial filters, there are other methods you can use to disinfect water to make it drinkable.
Check out these other posts --
Food in Disasters and Emergencies
Food Safety & Sanitation: Before, During, and After a Natural Disaster or Emergency
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