Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Practical Prepper
Sponsored by: Nitro-Pak
In my last post, we talked about priorities in your prepping supplies. After air, water is the most important thing you'll need for survival.
As we've considered ways to develop our water preparedness, we've realized that there are three main approaches to obtaining water; you can store water like any other supply, collect it from the environment, or purify any "found" water. For this post, we're just focusing on water storage. (We'll address the other two aspects in a future post.)
We started by storing water, since that's easy in small quantities. Specifically, we've included a half liter per day, per person in our Bug-Out Bags (BOBs). To accomplish that, we just put a 1.5-liter bottle of water in each person's BOB. We found a good deal on that size from a local discount store; you could just as easily use three half-liter bottles per BOB.
After that, we moved on to storing water in greater quantities. Our water supplies are stored in a variety of container sizes. When we occasionally have a re-sealable gallon-size plastic container (from milk, for instance), we wash and rinse it thoroughly and use it to store a gallon of water.
We also watch the local grocery and discount stores for sales on bottled water. Often, you can pick up a gallon of distilled or spring water for less than $.75. Once of our local stores sometimes runs a stackable 3-liter bottle of water on sale for $.49, which is very convenient. We also check our local warehouse stores, which also sometimes have bulk bottled water for reasonable prices. (Early on, we considered the square, 2.5-gallon containers found in many grocery stores. We nixed these because their cost is usually not nearly worth it.)
Storing water is excellent since it gives us control over the quality of the water, but it can be difficult for large groups and/or long periods of time. Typically, one 1 gallon per person, per day is the standard, which allows a half gallon for drinking and the balance for cooking, etc. (Incidentally, that's not a lot of water… many U.S. households normally use 100 times that each day.)
Of course, stored water quickly adds up in both space and weight, especially for individual containers that are a gallon or smaller. Consider a family of four saving 30 days worth of water. At a gallon per person per day, that's 120 gallons. Each gallon weighs about 8-1/3 pounds per gallon, that's 1,000 pounds of water — a half-ton! Also, imagine the shelving space needed for 120 separate gallon containers. It quickly becomes pretty unwieldy.
As we've grown our water storage, we've started considering other options, like large water storage tanks. A stackable storage tank that we're considering is able to hold 120 gallons is just 32" x 32" x 38" in size. Of course, it weighs 130 pounds empty — full, it's over 1,100 pounds. Clearly it's important to plan where to put it, since it will be difficult to move once it's full.
Of course, cost is an issue too. For example, the tank linked above is about $250 before shipping and tax. That also doesn't include any valve or other accessories. A stackable tank is nice because it's modular. We can purchase them one at a time, and also move them a bit more easily, with proper equipment. Still, we are also considering a single larger tank, but they're considerably more expensive. Nevertheless, we'll eventually need to invest in some method of bulk storage in order to extend our water preparedness much beyond what we currently have.
One word of caution here: it may be tempting to save money by finding a second-hand container and using it to store your water. For the most part, we're avoiding that approach from a water safety standpoint. It is important any tank we choose for storing water be suitable for storing potable (i.e., drinkable) water.
Another economical option is an emergency water storage bladder, like the waterBOB or the AquaPod. These are essentially large (food-grade) plastic bags that you put in your bathtub and fill with water in times of impending emergency. The bags come with a manual pump to get the water out of the bag for use. The waterBOB holds up to 100 gallons — over 3 weeks for four people — for a very reasonable price. The downside to this approach is that you have to have advance warning of a probably disaster in order to fill the bag.
One other thing we plan on is that we already have some built-in water-storage around our home. Our water heater holds 50 gallons, and that water can be tapped in an emergency. In addition, each toilet tank holds around a couple of gallons of fresh water (or more if you have older, pre-1994 toilets). Note that if you plan to tap into the latter water storage, be sure that you take the water from the toilet tank, not the bowl.
A final point about stored water: as we've researched things, the consensus seems to be that you should rotate your water supply, just like most other stored goods. The rule of thumb is to store the water for no more than 6 to 12 months, but that's not really a problem for us currently. Since we drink a lot of water, we are just sure to cycle our water supply using a first-in, first-out process.
So, your turn: where are you at with your water preparedness? How do you store your water? I'd especially love to hear from those that are successfully storing and using water in bulk.