If you've ever been without running water for a week, you know there's nothing better than a glorious long hot shower when all has been restored. In the heat of summer when you're working in the garden and dust cakes your throat, a cold glass of pure water is like beautiful rain at the end of a three month drought.
Water. We need it to live, to grow our crops, and to enjoy life. Some of my favorite memories are playing along the banks of our crick (cause that's how we say creek around here) as a child.
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Like a lot of things in life, we take water for granted. We assume when we turn on the faucet water will come out. If we go to the store it will be stocked with water. Recently here, in the Pacific Northwest, we assume rain will fall from the sky on a fairly regular basis, but we went through a three month drought and learned that's not always the case.
Water is a precious commodity and one that needs to be taken into consideration in our preparedness plan.
On our homestead we have our own well. I don't have to worry about officials treating my water with fluoride or other chemicals and there are no big commercial farms around that use spray that might contaminate it. But, when the power goes out, so does my well.
We all know the power usually goes out when we're not expecting it, or if a big storm is in the forecast, you'll have a short time to prepare before it hits.
In these cases, the local stores will run out of bottled water fairly quick. Plus, if weather is moving in, I don't want to be caught out and about in it.
4 Ways to Store & Purify Water at Home
How much water do we need?
You need at least one gallon of drinking water per day per person in your household, according to common recommendations. However, you'll need more for personal hygiene and cooking.
Water sources for storage
Water storage. Keeping some bottled water on hand for emergencies is always a good idea. It's one of the 8 items I recommend you keep in your car. You can purchase a six pack of water bottles at most $1 stores or half gallons. Costco carries a 40 pack of water bottles for under $5 a case.
Having some water stored on hand is a good idea, but most of us only have so much storage space. We don't have a garage and my food pantry is already pretty full with our food storage. Plus, like any item you store, you need to practice rotation so your stock doesn't go bad. So I do recommend storing some water, but I don't store a huge stock pile.
I believe it's better to invest my time and money into ways to replenish my stock or need.
Use a natural water source. We have a river less than a mile from our house. In the winter we usually have some snow fall. In fact, our longest stretch without power was almost 2 weeks and it was when we had a few feet of snow on the ground. We melted down snow to flush toilets and boiled it for cooking.
You can create rain barrels to collect the rain if you live in an area with a decent amount of rainfall. This actually used to be illegal in Washington state, but changes to the law recently now made this legal. Check your area for any restrictions.
There are also units available to make your electric well a manual one in the event of a long term power outage, though I have not personally used one yet.
If you have a pool or hot tub, you've got a lot of gallons at your disposable, though in this state, it's not safe for drinking… yet.
UPDATE: You may can your own water at home for storage use! A reader shared in the comments below and here's a post on canning water from another blogger.
4 Ways to Purify Water at Home
The first way people think of is boiling water. The common recommendation is to boil water for 1 minute to kill any bacteria to make it safe for drinking. This does not remove contaminant's or chemicals from the water, only bacteria. If your water source has algae bloom or has had a spill, like recently happened in Colorado, this method wont' work.
Second, is to add purification means to the water such as water purification tablets or bleach. You need to use liquid chlorine bleach and add 5 drops to a quart of water, 10 drops to a half gallon, or 1/4 teaspoon to a gallon of water. When using the bleach method, you have to let it sit before drinking. For a chart and more instructions, you can check out this guide from Washington State Emergency Guidelines.
One thing to remember with the bleach method is once opened, your bottle of bleach at home will expire or begin to lose its potency.
Third is to filter your water. Some people use a whole house filter system. Filter's do require being replaced every so often once the filter is full. We personally use a Lifestraw filter for our emergency kits and when out on day trips or in the back country.
Fourth and the most efficient and long term water purification method is distilling. Distilling removes chemicals, impurities, bacteria, and pollution from your water. This method makes even pool, hot tub, and OCEAN water safe for drinking.
From Daisy, author of The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.
How long could you sustain your family with the water that you have on hand or could procure on your own property?
Many people worry about the unstable electrical grid, and the effects that this would have on life as we know it. However, what will cause death and illness even faster is a threat to the water supply.An epic disaster doesn't have to be a dramatic, end-of-the-world scenario. It can be as simple as contaminants spilling into the municipal water supply, which has happened without warning over half a dozen times in the US in the past couple of years: West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, twice in Utah, and most recently that awful spill in Colorado.
If you don't want to be at the tender mercies of FEMA and the government for your survival, get prepared.
The simplest way to build an emergency water supply is two-fold. Purchase enough filled 5-gallon jugs of purified water from the store to provide your family with a gallon per day, per person. A full month's supply of drinking water for a family of 4 is approximately $150, give or take a little, depending on the prices in your area. At the same time, fill empty containers with tap water that can be safely used for pets, for flushing, and for cleaning and hygiene purposes. This is a small investment to make for your family's security and well-being in the event of an emergency.
There is nothing you can store that is more valuable than water or the means to purify water. There is no greater preparedness measure that you can take than that of securing a safe, abundant source of water. Without this one vital element that makes up 50 to 70 percent of your body, you're as good as dead.
How long could your family survive if the water stopped flowing from the municipal supply and none was available at the store? If the answer is not indefinitely then you need to check out my new book, The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.