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September 27, 2017

Emergency-Ready Challenge: Water Storage


How much water should you store for an emergency? | from Oak Hill Homestead

On hot summer days in Oklahoma, when the thermometer tops 100°F and a hot wind blows from the south and I've spent an hour or two weeding the garden or mucking out the horse barn, a cold bottle of water with droplets of condensation on the outside is what I yearn for, my reward. I can't imagine being thirstier than that, but we're all used to water flowing at the turn of a faucet. When a storm knocks out the power, or a pipe breaks somewhere in the system, water might not be so easy to get or as safe to drink.

Our bodies are made up of 60% water, and every cell in our bodies needs water to function. Although a person can survive about three weeks without food, without water our life expectancy is about three days.

Related post: Straw Box Cooking

Several years ago we had an ice storm here at Oak Hill that knocked out our power for five days. Most rural areas are dependent on power for their water; without power water can't be pumped from rural wells, so the faucets don't run and toilets don't flush. Fortunately, we have what Oklahoma calls rural water, which is similar to city water that flows from a central water tower. Of course the water in that tower comes from somewhere; in our case it comes from a lake. The water tower is gravity fed so it will keep our community going for awhile, but without power to pump water up into the tower this water source would eventually dry up. How long will that water last? I hope I never find out, but fortunately we also have a well.

It never hurts to have more than one source of water or any other item we're dependent on. Have you identified alternate sources of water in case you ever need it?


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How much water to store

FEMA suggests storing a minimum of one gallon of water per person, per day, and that you store at least three days' worth of water. That's twelve gallons of water for a family of four for three days. Supposedly this is enough water for drinking, cooking and hygiene, but since a person is supposed to drink two-thirds of their weight in ounces of water every day, I think this is a very low amount.

A 150-pound person is supposed to drink 100 ounces of water per day.
A gallon of water is 128 ounces.

So maybe we should double that daily amount of water we store for each person. You'll need additional water for personal hygiene, for washing dishes and pots, for washing clothes, and so on. You should drink more if you are active or if the weather is hot and dry, if you are sick, are pregnant or nursing. You'll also need water for cooking.

And don't forget your animals! You should store water for them too, or at least have another source of water for them such as a pond.

How to store water

The easiest and quickest way to store water is to buy it. Somewhere in your town a store sells returnable and refillable 5-gallon water bottles; look for their displays near the door of big box stores, hardware chain stores and grocery stores. These bottles are heavy and a bit awkward to pour into some other container, but are a quick way to add water to your storage.

How much water should you store in case of an emergency? | from Oak Hill Homestead

Cases of individual water bottles are also quick and easy to buy, and the cases stack well.

You can even buy canned water. We had a case of military-issued cans, the same size cans that hold soda pop.

An inexpensive way to add to your water storage is to refill empty juice or soda bottles with tap or filtered water. I consider this free, since I've already paid for the bottles when they were full of juice. Wash the empty bottles and tops well before refilling. Milk jugs are not recommended; they aren't made for long-term storage and are prone to crack and leak.

Fill all those empty canning jars with water. You're storing them anyway, why not fill them up?

Store your water in sealed, labeled containers in a dark, cool place. Do not set the containers directly on concrete, or store near chemicals or harsh fumes.

Once you've stocked "enough" water, begin rotating your bottles. Use the oldest bottles and replace them with new bottles. Stored water can taste stale; pouring it back and forth from one container to another a few times will introduce air and improve the taste.


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Other ways to store water

For large-scale storage look into fifty-five gallon non-toxic barrels intended for water storage. Be sure to buy a siphon system too so you can get the water out when you need it.

Smaller two- to five-gallon water containers are available in the camping section of your local big box stores and Amazon.

How much water should you store in case of an emergency? | from Oak Hill Homestead

The Water Bob is a one-use plastic container intended to be filled in your bathtub in an emergency. If an ice storm or a hurricane is predicted and you think the power may go out, put the Water Bob in your bathtub and fill with water. (My bathtub would never be clean enough to drink out of, no matter how well I scrubbed it - after all, ducklings have gone swimming in it and one day I found a salamander that had evidently come up the pipes. I'm not drinking out of it, no sirree.) Available at Amazon and at the Water Bob website.


Water filters

A water filter is a wise investment in water storage, but invest in a good one. Should you need to drink rain water, melted snow or water from a less-than-optimum source, you'll need to filter it. Personally, we always filter our tap water.

Berkey water filters remove harmful bacteria, cysts, parasites, and chemical contaminants up to 99.99%, and significantly reduce fluoride and arsenic levels in water, making almost any water safe to drink. Hubby's military unit overseas had the largest Berkey unit available, but there are smaller sizes intended for households.

The Life Straw personal water filter is portable and intended for one person's drinking needs. It's a great product to keep in your evacuation gear.


Free Printable!

This week's free printable worksheet will help you determine how much water you should drink daily and how much you should store. Click here to download the printable.

How much water do you need to store for emergencies? | from Oak Hill Homestead


Hop on over to our OHH Homesteading Community Facebook group and share your thoughts.


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4 comments:

  1. Those are really good tips about water storage. I especially like the tip to make stale water taste better. We live rurally and depend on electricity to pump water from our well. I've practiced pressure canning by canning water. So that was doubly beneficial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did the same thing, Michelle: learned how to pressure can by canning water. Now I just fill the jars and screw the lids on. It takes up just as much space as empty jars, so why not? Occasionally I water the plants with that water and then refill them.

      Delete
  2. I've been wanting to get a berkey for a long time, and I've thought about having a life straw for varying reasons. I think we'll get a Berkey around tax time next year...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good use for your tax refund, Danielle! They're expensive to buy but last forever and it's an excellent investment in your family's health, not to mention being prepared for a water emergency.

      Delete

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