If you are the normal average person you can die from dehydration in as little as 24-hours, you can last no more than about 96-hours. You can become weak and disoriented within 12-hours without water. Drinking water contaminated with viruses and bacteria and be debilitating within 1 – 10 days. Drinking contaminated water can kill you.
So, tell me again how important water is?
Fortunately dehydration can be easily cured…drink water. To keep yourself healthy and functioning…drink safe water. Fortunately the “safe” part is easily cured…purify water before you drink it. But, there is still a problem here…you gotta have water to purify. Yup, you gotta actually have water…or be able to get it.
You have utility water coming out of your tap and so you are confident that your Monolithic water filtration/purification system will keep you and your family just fine. So what happens when the utility company can no longer keep water coming out of your faucet?
“No problem!” you say…you have a well. Great! And what happens when your power goes out and the well pump no longer works? Or the pump itself goes out and replacement parts are no longer available…what now?
Fortunately this problem too can be solved…with the right plan. Here’s your right plan…
Personal dehydration prevention should be a NDuR or similar “life straw” kind of filtration device. It can be carried in your pocket so it is the second line of defense against dehydration. It is easy to use, requires no special training, it is readily available, and effective.
note: NDuR is no longer available Life Straw is the next best option.
If you have had to “bug-out” this personal option should be on each person all the time, as in their pocket. Yes, it is carried in a pocket so it is readily available. Why? Because if you lose all your other water filtration and purification capability then you still have this life-saving option available to you. And yes, people have lost all their prep items (i.e. 72-hour kit) during emergencies, disasters and grid-down. By having this handy little option on you, you stand a better chance of surviving.
Moving out one layer or circle would be AquaTabs or Chlor-Floc. Both can be easily transported by a person in their kit. But these chemical options do take a little longer to work than the NDuR or Life Straw. But they can also be used to purify water for more than just a single person. And they can be used to purify a storage container of water. So that gives them the justification of being the next layer up from NDuR or Life Straw.
Both the Chlor-Floc and the AquaTabs are a chemical process and they both take time to ready water for drinking. Sometimes there just isn’t any time available. So keep that in mind with these two options. But they are both highly portable.
Next would be something along the lines of an MSR Sweetwater system. It is light, portable, compact, easy to transport, and can provide water to an entire family if needed. But it is bulkier and heavier than the two previous layers. But, the entire unit weighs in at less than a pound. The Sweetwater unit can easily produce 1,000gals of drinking water. The water source can be as polluted (non-nuclear) as you can imagine and this filtration/purification system can make it just fine to drink.
note: The MSR Sweetwater system is no longer available. It has been replaced with the MSR MiniWorks EX
The next layer is getting into the more semi-stationary options of filtering/purifying water. My personal favorite, and very economical, system is the Monolithic Ceramic filter system. It can be used with 5-gal buckets, 55-gal drums, or larger containers. It can easily provide water for an entire family or a neighborhood if needed. However, the entire system can be bulky compared to something along the lines of the MSR MiniWorks EX system.
Also, I hope you noticed a trend here…portability. The more personal an option is, the more portable it is. The easier it is to transport by person or vehicle. You have to balance portability vs. capacity. Only you can make that decision for your specific circumstance. But, ensure you have multiple options to cover various portability and capacity requirements.
You have a hot water tank, yes? Well, most homes have a 40 gallon hot water tank. And you probably have two toilets in your house, right? Well, there is another 5 gallons(+/-) each. No, not the water in the toilette bowl, the water in the tank that sits on the back of the toilet. Yes, that is normally acceptable as drinking water. So there is your 50 gallons of water storage on hand. The trick to it is to not lose it. So if your water supply disappears do the following:
- Turn off the electric or gas to your hot water tank. This prevents burning up your water tank as you draw down the water in the tank.
- Turn off the value to the street water supply. This prevents water being sucked out of your house and back into the water system.
- Turn off the valve on top of the water heater that goes to the lines in the house. This prevents someone from inadvertently opening a hot water faucet and draining precious water from your supply.
- Turn off the value under your toilet tank and duct tape the toilet seat closed. Yeah, you don’t want to waste that precious water by someone accidentally flushing the toilet.
So let’s hit on a subset of Utility Water for a minute. If you would have any amount of warning that a disaster or emergency is coming fill every possible container in the house that might be able to hold water. Yup, anything; and I mean anything. Go for easy & quantity first such as the bath tub and sinks. Then go for buckets, bowls, bottles, jugs, jars, glasses; literally anything including heavy duty trash bags.
One of the items that we have in our home and love it to pieces is a WaterBOB. It can hold up to 100gals and easily fits in your bathtub. It seals up very nicely and comes with a pump to move the water from the container to your bucket, bottle, etc. A WaterBOB is basically a large very heavy duty food-grade plastic sealable plastic bag. It takes about 20 minutes to fill it from your bathtub’s spigot. This is a great way to store water at the last minute for an emergency. So why not use it for storage sooner? Great! All the WaterBOB needs is some kind of “form” or cage around it to hold in place. But remember, there is a whole lot of weight involved; 900 pounds for a full WaterBOB. Plus you have the pressure pushing out on the sides as well. Whatever you would decide to build make sure it is sturdy.
A smaller similar produce is an AquaPod. The only holds about 65 gallons but is a quality product as well and as a bonus is made in the USA. AquaPod & WaterBOB are both readily available on Amazon. A WaterBOB sells for about $40 or so, shop around. An AquaPod sells for about $28 but that is for a 3-pack! So here is your decision point…If you are going to use it for a last-minute-fill-it-up container and only have one bathtub then I would use a WaterBOB because you can get more in a single container. However, if you have multiple tubs as last-minute-fill-it-up containers or you can make good quality forms for them (longer-term storage), then I would go with the AquaPod. Either way, you are storing a whole lot of water.
You can buy a case of water (35 ½ liter bottles) for less than $4.00. Each case of water would then last about 5 days for the average person. Option to consider, buy and store 1 case of water person for each 5 days of supply you want to maintain.
Bottled water is easy to store, easy to move, avoids cross contamination among people, easy to track usage (drink 1 bottle of water every 2-3 waking hours).
Note: Bottled water may not be any more pure or safe to drink than tap water under normal daily circumstances. Virtually all tap water in the United States is safe to drink without additional purification…under normal daily circumstances.
Small size storage containers. I am torn with this option really. For storing and moving smaller amounts of water I see cases of bottled water being the right all-around option. But there is a place for small container water storage. I would highly recommend a sturdy food-grade plastic container. I am partial to square containers to save space. But they need to be sturdy enough to handle not just storage, but moving and transporting them as well. The 5gal containers are about the right size in my opinion.
Medium size storage containers. A great compromise for storing water in quantity, but not as intrusive as a large tank in your yard, is a 30 or 50 gallon food-grade plastic storage container. If you have storage space limitations consider decorating them as furniture and putting them out of the way in the yard, on patios, etc..
When initially storing your water add bleach to keep bacteria in check (8 drops per gallon). Regardless of the bleach I would always filter and purify water that has been stored like this prior to using it.
Note: Use only food-grade plastic containers that you know what was in them prior to you acquiring them.
Large storage tanks. This option can be a real lifesaver if you have the room for it. To have a 300+ gallon storage tank full of water can be a really huge benefit. But the same information applies to this as it does to the option of storing water in plastic soda bottles or glass containers, just on a larger scale.
Moving water from large storage tanks is all but impossible unless you move the water to smaller storage containers or have it plumbed into your home directly. Storing the water outside brings additional concerns; preventing freezing, concealing its presence, etc.
Note: You know that large, really pretty above round storage tank that you have in the back yard or behind the barn, or the one you were thinking about putting in? Think how nice of a target that makes for folks doing some shooting practice, or drawing folks to you who are looking for water. Consider this storage option carefully. Think about a creative paint job that helps it blend in to the surroundings. Or you might want to ponder making this method an “in ground” possibility.
For below ground storage here are a couple options –
Note of caution: For storing water in these large volume containers consider the location of the storage tank itself. If you place the tank too far away you have to be able to get your house. If bad weather or bad guys are present it might be a little tough to do. Make sure you have a reliable way to get the water to you house under less than desirable conditions.
TRAP – Storing water in milk jugs has a pretty serious downside. I am not a big fan of storing water in milk jugs. Reason, other than their transportability? Have you ever left milk sitting around too long, opened it and had it smell like a basket full of dirty clothes that came from the high school football team? Yeah, point is, if you don’t get milk jugs really, really clean then you will have some milk residue left and it will get very sour and produce a tremendous amount of bacteria. In other words, your water will stink and will be nasty to drink and contaminated when you need it most. And milk jugs will deteriorate and breakdown over time and water leaks all over the place. Not a good way to endear your spouse to “prepping.”
What plastic containers are safe to use to store water?
- #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene)
- #5 PP (polypropylene)
WARNING: #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) normally used for water, soda, and juice bottles are not designed for reuse. They are not suitable for storage due to the possibility of bacterial buildup. There are also different reports outlining the possibility of BPA leaching over time out of the plastic and into the bottle contents.
Cool Thought: A small 8′ x 30″ frameless pool from Intex costs less than $66 for about $650 gals of water. Plus you can cool off during hot afternoons!! a 10’x 30″ gives you 1,000 of water for under $72.
Having your own water well is amazing for self-sufficiency and true sense of security. And that is true as long as you can get water out of your well. A well on your property is actually just a form of water storage…a very large storage container.
Most people depend on utility power to run their well pump, do you? Is that the best way to go? It is certainly the easiest way for sure. Let me explain my own situation…
Our retirement/BOL property has a well. We recently had the well serviced, the old pump and pipes removed. We will be replacing the pump with a unit that can run off 110vAC power. We are also replacing the 1” galvanized pipe (9 x 20’ sections) with 1-1/4” poly tubing. Why do that might you ask?
The well hadn’t been serviced for 10 years, it needed it.
Replacing the pump with a 110vAC unit gives us the ability to run the pump in two ways –
- Our solar system that can provide 24vDC to an inverter providing 110vAC power to the pump.
- A 110vAC generator as back-up should the solar system be unable to provide the power to run the pump.
Since the pipe is actually a single piece of poly-tubing I can pull the tubing and pump out of the well myself…literally. And then I can use my Waterboy Well Bucket to retrieve well manually eliminating any need for any power other than a little muscle.
As you can see we now have three levels of redundancy to have a supply of water available to us. The third option being the well bucket requires no technology and no external energy source. Virtually foolproof.
If you don’t have any water storage at all go to Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart and buy ten cases of water. You will have spent less than $40 and have a decent supply of water on hand for emergencies.
If you have water storage get a personal water filtration system such as a Life Straw.
If you have water storage and personal water filtration system for each family member then get a portable family filtration system such as the MSR MiniWorks EX system.
If you have all of the above purchase the Monlithic water filter system. Yes, you can buy a Berkley if you want to…and spend way more than you need to. Or spend the same amount of money buying the Monolitic system…and have filters for 10 times the water purification.
Now, if you have done all of the above I have two more potential suggestions…
- Buy a small above ground pool. They are relatively inexpensive and can provide you with a huge amount of water storage.
- If you don’t want the pool…buy more of the above items starting again at the top.
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