We all know how vital it is to have a source of clean water available to us at all times. Having a ample supply of safe drinking water is a top priority in an emergency.
But when the power goes out, how can we access it?
Water is the most crucial element for staying alive. It’s more important than food. But the hardest to store.
Everyone must have enough safe drinking water, which generally means one gallon per person per day. Generally a normal active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts of water a day, Needs will differ according to age, physical condition, lifestyle and climate.
This doesn’t include water for cooking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes, pets or other animals. (Large dogs may need as much as a gallon a day, while cats can do well with just a pint a day.)
If you have other livestock your water needs obviously soar. But in that case, water taken directly from a river or stream, without purification, will probably be okay.
I have read that untreated water straight from the tap should keep for six months when stored in clean, durable containers. However, it must be changed periodically, I have also read that it will last several years. I do not rotate my water and haven’t had a problem with it. When you get ready to use the water if it is flat tasting just pour it between a couple of glasses to work some air back in to it and it will be fine.
Bacteria-free water, which means treatment with bleach or other compounds, will keep up to several years. Heat, light, deterioration of the container and other factors can cut this figure substantially.
You can store water in a lot containers, soda bottles work great, Heavy juice bottles ect you can even fill your empty canning jars (they say not to use bleach bottles but I know a lot of people who do). Do not use milk jugs, for two reasons, one you may not get them cleaned as good as they need to be and 2nd they don’t hold up very long. They will, after a while start to leak. Once you properly clean containers, fill them with potable, or safe, drinking water. All public water supplies are already treated and should be free of harmful bacteria. However, as an additional precaution, it is recommended that you add 5-7 drops, about 1/8 teaspoon, of chlorine bleach per gallon of water stored. This precaution protects you against any lingering organisms in storage containers that may have been inadvertently missed during the cleaning process. I use my own judgment here, if putting in canning jars I don’t add anything but on occasion when using soda or juice containers I will use bleach.
Be sure to label your containers as drinking water.
You can also store water in liquid laundry soap, fabric softener and bleach bottles to use as non-potable ( un drinkable) water for flushing or washing clothes ect.
Remember when filling whatever container you use, that if you store them outside in a shed or out building to leave room for expansion if it freezes. Water should also be stored as far as possible from paint and petroleum-based products, acids or anything with strong odors such as fertilizer or common household cleaning solutions. Try to store out of sunlight.
Water Sources in Your Home
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl). When using the water from the hot water tank be sure all power ( gas or electricity is turned off the tank)Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot water facet.
If you have a swimming pool you should always view it as “backup” water; keep the water treated; you never know when it will be needed! The maintenance of the free chlorine residual will prevent establishment of any microorganisms. The maintenance level should be kept about 3-5ppm free chlorine If other stored water stocks are not available, remove the necessary pool water and boil it or just treat with chlorine to the normal 5ppm. It is best to err on the side of caution.
Covering the pool at all times when not in use is a very good idea. Try to keep the cover clean and wash the area you put it on when removing it from the pool.
Learn where the shut off valve for you incoming water is at. If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines you will want to shut off the incoming water valve to keep contaminated water from entering your home.
You do need to try and locate at least one other water source, since even several hundred gallons of stored water won’t last long.
A well with a hand pump would be ideal. Unfortunately, not all people live on land with a well. We are relying on a few other sources for water. Since we are fortunate enough to have running water on our property, that’s going to be our main source. I am wanting to make this homemade water filtration system, so if we do have to drink from the creek, I will strain the water through a t-shirt or a cloth to remove the sediment, then boil and maybe add bleach then run through the water filter ( the water in the creek is very dirty) then at least we will know it’ll be safe. This would also work if you live near a pond or lake.
We also have a large water tank that we want to hook up to a gutter system to catch rain water. Then we can use it to water the garden, and to use in the house for toilets and washing but it would be good for drinking and bathing water as well. If you can get at least one rain barrel installed, it’ll be a good start. If this is your only means of obtaining water several barrels or even a large tank would be a good idea. I I know some areas don’t allow water catchment, but at least have it set up or ready to set up, and the necessary tanks on hand because in a grid down or emergency event you are going to need a way to get water.
An other idea if you live in a area with snow in the winter, is melt the snow and store the water in tanks or even portable swimming pools ( I would treat with bleach or dry pool chlorine to store.)
Assume any water not stored or purchased is contaminated, especially in perilous or unstable times. If you can find only marginal water, first strain the debris through a paper towel, clean cloth or coffee filter, then use one of the following methods.
Store bought filter system,
There are several on the market. Berkey is a good one but they are pretty pricey. What ever you get or have make sure you have several filters on hand.
Short of using a very high-quality water filter, this is the most reliable method for killing microbes and parasites. Bring water to a rolling boil and keep it simmering for at least 10 minutes. Add one minute of boiling to the initial 10 minutes for every 1,000 feet above sea level. Cover the pot to shorten boiling time and conserve fuel.
Liquid chlorine bleach
Use 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite that is free of soap or phosphates. To treat one gallon of water, add eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach to clear water and 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) to cloudy water. Remember bleach loses its effectiveness over time. Be sure and let sit at least 30 minutes after treatment. Make sure it is straight chlorine bleach no added scent or fresheners.
This is a suitable disinfectant, as it oxidizes the water. To treat 1 gallon of water use 50 mL dry chlorine. Chlorine and hydrogen peroxide work well together because they offer different types of purification, and hydrogen peroxide ultimately neutralizes the flavor of chlorine. Let the chlorine sit in the water overnight.Fill an eye dropper with 2 mL hydrogen peroxide ( for every gallon of water) add to the water you are purifying. Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes before drinking. This gives the hydrogen peroxide time to oxidize the water and neutralize the chlorine. You do not have to use chlorine before applying hydrogen peroxide to the water, but it improves the overall purification of the water. Peroxide degrades even more rapidly than chlorine, and it needs to be kept in a dark bottle that blocks out sunlight. As with liquid bleach, potency could be an issue if it has been stored for a long period.
These are either iodine or chlorine based. One or two tablets will purify a quart of water depending on the contamination level and length of time allowed for treated water to stand. Follow instructions on the package. These tablets are among the more convenient and affordable ways to purify water. Not every brand of purification products (especially iodine tablets) will kill giardia. And once opened they do start to lose their effectiveness.
Sand and Charcoal Water Filter
The 1938 Boy Scout Handbook describes an interesting filtration system that can be easily constructed if you have certain basic materials. You need two buckets or barrels (size determined by your needs) connected by a tube or pipe near the bottoms of the containers. Your impure water is poured into the first barrel, which has been filled, from the bottom up, with a perforated plate a few inches up from the bottom (basically, a metal plate or disk with holes in it), a layer of charcoal, a layer of coarse sand, and a layer of gravel. You leave about one-quarter of the space at the top for adding the impure water. The water passes through the layers of materials, then passes through the tube into barrel number two, which is filled, from the bottom up, with a layer of coarse sand (the pipe or tube from the other barrel comes into this coarse sand), charcoal, and gravel. The top third of the second barrel should be left clear for your filtered water.
Such a filter is effective for removing much of the grit and sediment in the water and probably works better than allowing the water to settle. The charcoal may help to remove some pathogens from the water. If you’ve got on hand the buckets or barrels, tubing, and the materials to put in the barrels and you do not have way to boil water (or cannot have a fire), then this is a low-tech system worth considering.
Last but not least, If you know there is a possibility of an interruption in your water supply, like and incoming storm, or you suspect an emp. Fill all available containers and fill your tubs. If nothing happens just use the water as you normally would. ( the water in the tubs can be used to flush with.).
Next we will discuss off grid living, this will be in two parts.