Not too long ago, I came across something that mentioned having bottled water ready for emergencies. I sat there reading and thinking, “Yes, yes, very true.”
Then I realized that even though I was nodding my head in agreement, I had not done those things to prepare.
It’s time to do it.
We take water for granted, because it’s easy to turn on the tap. I expect the water to flow out without even thinking about it. It’s incredible that we don’t have to think more about something we can’t live without. Since it’s essential to survival, we need to store bottled water in our homes.
How much water should you store?
At least 1 gallon per person, per day. This covers essential drinking water, but you need more for preparing food and cleaning. It’s recommended to have 3 gallons per person, per day for 3-7 days.
It’s easy and cheap to buy bottled water at the store, or you can fill your own containers. If you use plastic soda bottles or glass jugs, make sure they have a very tight seal. Plastic milk jugs are not recommended for reuse. Soda bottles can be stored in the freezer if you have room, and that helps keep food frozen if the power goes out. You can even buy large barrels for storing water.
My store-bought bottled water has an expiration date of 2 years, but if you fill up water yourself, you need to change it more often.
Water around the house
If you have a few minutes advance notice before an emergency, fill up your bathtub with water. Look around your house and see what else could be used to hold water: buckets, jars, trash cans, even heavy-duty plastic bags. I’m pretty sure Doug will be running with a big bucket out to the apartment swimming pool if we are suddenly without water.
In an emergency you need to turn off the main water supply to your house to protect the water already in your pipes. You can use water stored in your water heater tank which could be 40 to 50 gallons.
Purify water to make it safe
Carbon filters like a Brita pitcher are good for removing chlorine from municipal water, but they aren’t effective if you need to kill bacteria.
Boiling water is one of the best ways to purify water if you have access to a heat source. You can aerate boiled water by pouring it from one container to another for taste.
Special filters and equipment can be found at sporting goods stores. Water purification tablets might be a good thing to have.
Household chlorine bleach (5.25%) can chemically disinfect water from some (but not all) microorganisms. Add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Iodine tincture from the first aid kit can also be used.
(Chlorine and iodine are harmful in higher doses — the toxicity is what kills the bacteria in the water. I don’t relish the thought of drinking chlorine or iodine, but we’re talking about emergency situations, not every-day use.)
I have a few gallons of water now in my home. The water bottles are stackable, and they’re stored up above the kitchen cabinets. I want to have some in the car too. I want to have enough for my family, plus more to share. It worries me to think that most of my neighbors would probably not be prepared, so I’ll be buying more this week.
What will you do?