Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Really Need A Drink!!!

Water is necessary for life. The human body can tolerate lack of food for much longer than it can go without water . . . therefore, this post is to help you understand how much and how to store drinking water for emergency use.

Not everyone is as fortunate as we are to have a well on our property (and a hand pump to use if the electricity is off) but even with a well, you need to have a minimal amount of clean, safe drinking water available.

It is highly recommended that you store 14 gallons per person minimum. This would be sufficient to last for two full weeks or one gallon per person per day. Careful rationing would allot ½ gallon for drinking and ½ gallon for hygiene and/or cooking. If you live in a hot and humid climate, like I do, you may wish to store a bit more. Remember too, that if you have prepared a 72 Hour Emergency Kit, you should already have enough water for your family for the first three days!

Where are you going to store this water? Think about that a bit. If you can fruits and vegetables, you likely have empty canning jars sitting around. Fill them with water!! They take up no more room to store filled than they do empty. 

Empty two liter soda pop bottles work well too; as do purchased bottled water. These should be used and rotated however because the plastic bottles eventually break down and the water can leak out, causing a big mess as well as depleting your emergency supply.

*DO NOT USE milk jugs, or other food grade plastic jugs as they cannot be cleaned well enough to prevent bacterial growth!

Water can be stored in a 55 gallon (food safe) drum and can be pumped out using a small hand operated pump.  You may store it in smaller containers but remember that water is heavy and you may not be able to pour it out when needed.

Your hot water heater may be your last resort; however, if you are without power for a few days, you may drain the water from it. There is usually a spigot near the bottom of the tank. Be aware that there may be a lot of sediment in it as well but it can be filtered and is safe to drink.

Below you will find FEMA recommendations for water storage. Please note that they suggest only a three day supply, however, I strongly urge you to store enough for two full weeks. You won’t regret if you ever find yourself in need.

Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:
  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
How Should I Store Water?

To prepare safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open it until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date.

If You are Preparing Your Own Containers of Water

It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage. Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Follow directions below on filling the container with water.

If you choose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy. *The exception here is to use empty canning jars which are an ideal solution since they require no more space to store full than empty.

If storing water in plastic soda bottles, follow these steps:
Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Filling Water Containers

Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so that you know when you filled it. Store it in a cool, dark place. Replace the water every six months if not using commercially bottled water.

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