In the previous articles in this series I introduced the concept of “layers” in relation to emergency preparedness. I explained how you can address risks/threats associated with emergencies, disasters, and grid-down by layering your preps to mitigate each specific threat/risk. I also went into detail of defensive and medical layers to mitigate threats and risks for yourself and your home. If you didn’t read the earlier articles I would suggest that you do. It will make this post much easier to fully understand.
What are we trying to accomplish when we talk about water in relation to being prepared for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down? Simple, we don’t want to become sick or die from dehydration. That being said, let’s apply the “layers” theory to this area of prepping.
Since you already have a supply of perfectly safe drinking water in your house, or at least most people do, that supply should be first on our list. And that water supply is public utility water. If you don’t have public utility water, then it is whatever water supply you are currently using. With all of that water readily available you should have a large amount of water stored. Water storage is your first line of defense against dehydration.
“What?” you say! Yes, water storage. Why reinvent the wheel? You already have the water available, it is already safe, why not store some away for times of emergencies, disasters, or grid-down? Some ways to store water are:
- Small size storage containers (5gal and below)
- Medium size storage containers (30 – 50gal barrels)
- Large storage tanks (100gal and above tanks)
- Swimming pool (1000’s of gallons)
Yes, I realize that this “water storage” layer is more along the lines of the big picture or out layer, and that may well be the case. But it is already there; even in your 40gal hot water tank. So it makes cost-effective sense to use this option first.
The next layer is more personal, and more in-line with the “layer” concept. Personal dehydration prevention should be an 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.
If you have had to “bug-out” this personal option should be on each person all the time. 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) before 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. 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 NDuRs.
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.
If you are worried about the water being contaminated with nuclear material you probably have larger problems. But, you could then use the “nuclear” version of the NDuR at that point to finish off removing the contamination material as you drink it.
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 Sweetwater 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 need. Only you can make that decision for you specific circumstance. But, ensure you have multiple options to cover various portability and capacity requirements.
Compare these water layers back to “layered defense” talked about in Part #1 as the example. A knife is a very personal weapon, it’s used up close. It is highly portable, easily transported, and simple to use. A long-range rifle compared to a knife is much harder to transport, much heavier, more difficult to maintain, and more complex to use. Same is true for the water options. Give yourself a lot of options in this area.
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