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Water – Essential for Emergency Preparedness & Survival

By Denis Korn

Water - The #1 essential for Preparedness Planning

Clean water of course is essential for survival. While it is possible to go for weeks without food, after 3 – 5 days survival is at great risk without water. Make absolutely sure you answer the following questions.

o How much water do you have available to you in an emergency?

o Will you have enough to clean foods you have stored?

o Will you have enough to cook foods that require lengthy boiling (beans, grains, pasta)?

o What quantities will you need to reconstitute “no cooking required” freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?

o Will you want to wash pots and utensils?

o Do you know how to obtain, store and/or purify water?

o Will you have enough water for sprouting and/or gardening?

  • Plan on at least 1/2 gallon a day per person to survive. One gallon a day per person is considered minimum for drinking, basic food preparation, and basic hygiene. Two gallons for basic bathing, laundry, and cleaning.

Water Sources – Storage – Treatment

Sources:

  • Natural
    • Ponds, lakes, streams, springs, rivers, ocean (use desalinators or distillers only)
    • Know all local locations before an emergency and check quality.
  • Wells
    • Have non-electric collection options available- hand pumps, special buckets, and solar pumps.
  • Bottled , commercial
    • 6 months to one-year shelf life- Rotate.
  • Around the house
    • Pools, spas, waterbeds, hot water heater, toilet tank, hoses, pipes- purify before drinking.
  • Collection ideas
    • Snow, rainwater, dew.
  • Survival techniques
    • Plants, underground sources, moisture collection- get a good survival manual.

Storage:

  • Specially packaged purified water
    • Water in small foil pouches or fruit juice like boxes- 5-year shelf life.
  • Large containers
    • Food grade plastic, concrete, water bladders, cisterns- above or below ground.
  • Small containers
    • Food grade plastic- new is best, numerous types available (If previously filled with food or beverage, used containers can impact tastes and odors), glass. Never use container that held chemicals or cleaners.

Treatment:

  • Devices
    • Portable hand operated purifiers- when rated as a “purifier” the device will kill viruses and filter bacteria and protozoa. Limited types available.
    • Portable hand operated filters- will filter out most bacteria and protozoa. Many types available.
    • Drip filters- counter top transportable units that filter water slowly by gravity.
    • Bottle purifiers- Easy to use, just fill and drink from bottle.
    • Pen like devices- Insert in a glass of water. Utilizes ultra-violet light as a purifier.
    • Desalinators- manual and electric. Removes salt from seawater.
    • Distillers- electric and non-electric available. Steam distills and purifies any contaminated and salt water.
    • Kitchen units- usually requires water pressure and uses carbon filter element. Some units can be modified to manual use.
    • Boiling- kills viruses and bacteria after 10 minutes (add one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level). May not however kill cysts such as Giardia.
  • Additives
    • Liquid chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite- only ingredient) – 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) per gallon of clean water, double for cloudy water. For 5 gallons-1/2 teaspoon for clean water, 1 teaspoon for cloudy water.
    • Iodine (2%)- 12 drops per gallon for clean water, double for cloudy water. Has distinctive odor and taste. Not for pregnant or nursing women or those with thyroid problems.
    • Purification tablets- Iodine or Chlorine Dioxide – Follow instructions on package. Some brands may not kill Giardia. Micropur by Katadyn is best.
    • Stabilized oxygen- A relatively new method of purification. Many swear by it, do your research.
    • Katadyn Micropur (Chlorine Dioxide)- Effective against all microorganisms. Meets EPA purification guidelines with no aftertaste.
    • Colloidal Silver- New and becoming more widely available. Worth investigating. Reported to eliminate numerous harmful elements.

Water Storage Tips

  • Store water in a cool, dry, and dark location.
  • Store away from odors, waste products, and petroleum based products (if using plastics – plastic containers can absorb odors).
  • Periodically check containers (6-12 months) and add additional additives if necessary.
  • Rotate containers if possible with new water.
  • Don’t use metal containers for long term storage.
  • Use water filters on water stored for long periods of time.

Recommended blog posts:

Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning

The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

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