Every prepared family or individual should start by stocking up on the most basic of life sustaining elements – water.
All living things consist mostly of water. 60% of your body mass is water. Water comprises approximately 92% of blood plasma, 80% of muscle mass and 60% of red blood cells. Water moistens the tissues in your mouth, nose and eyes. Water helps regulate your body temperature and is needed to properly digest food and help prevent constipation. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells and tissues and dissolves minerals and nutrients so they are available to the body. In short, you can’t live without water.
When a disaster strikes, man-made or otherwise, many times the domestic water systems are disrupted. Herein lies the need to have adequate water stored for your family. Most experts and sources agree that a basic 3-day supply is an absolute minimum, with a two-week supply highly recommended. The basic 3-day supply should consist of one gallon per person per day. Therefore, you need three gallons per person for your 3-day kit; 14 gallons per person for a two-week supply.
For each gallon stored plan on using half for drinking, half for cooking and sanitation purposes. Consider the 32 oz you have available as a bare minimum to sustain life. In an emergency situation your stress level increases and your need for water increases. If you live in a hot and/or humid climate water needs increase. High elevations also create a need for more water. And you have to figure that if you are in survival mode your level of physical activity and exertion will be much higher than the normal nine to five routine.
We’ve established that we must have water. Now, how to store it? There are many sources for water containers, but you probably have a good start in your kitchen or pantry. Plastic two liter soda bottles are perfect. They are readily available, cheap or free and can be easily stored and transported. There are also many water containers available at your local sporting goods stores and surplus stores. Just remember, each gallon of water weighs approximately eight pounds. A five-gallon container will weigh about 40 pounds when full. Do the members of you family have the ability to lift and transport these heavy containers?
Regardless the container you choose be sure to clean it thoroughly with hot, soapy water and rinse well. To sanitize the container use one Tablespoon of regular household bleach (non-scented and without any additives) per gallon of water. Rinse the container and lid well and allow it to remain wet with the bleach solution for two minutes. Then rinse the container well and you are ready to fill it with water. Fill the container and add 2-3 drops of bleach per two liter bottle or 5-7 drops per gallon to insure that microorganisms do not reproduce in your stored water. Write the date on your containers and be sure to rotate your water supply every six months. Commercially bottled water can be rotate every year if the containers are not opened. Store your water in cool, dark areas of your home for best shelf life.
A few other things to consider regarding water are the available resources in your home if the water and power systems go down. If you have time fill all the containers you can, including your bathtubs. Be sure to disinfect with bleach prior to use to be safe. Your hot water heater will have 30-60 gallons of water depending on size and design. Be sure to turn off the gas or electricity to the heater prior to draining the water. You can easily store extra water in your freezers. Fill your two liter bottles but be sure to leave at least two to three inches of space to allow for expansion as the water freezes. Water containers in the freezer help fill empty spaces and will allow your freezer to operate more efficiently. In the event you lose power the extra ice in the containers will keep your freezer cold and may help prevent loss of frozen food stuffs.
Finally, look around you and find other sources of water in the event of a long-term situation. Do you have open water such as streams or lakes you can use to supply your needs? Do you have a well that you can use a manual pump or siphon in to pull water to the surface? How about replacing those downspouts on your home with a 55-gallon drum at each corner to collect rainwater?
Water is literally all around us, yet we don’t often think of it in terms of an emergency because is usually so readily available. If you are just starting out on your preparedness journey get your water supply taken care of first. It is easy and costs very little, yet is vital to your health and survival.