How long can a human survive without water? Most sources say three to four days, without doing damage to bodily organs. Beyond four days, all the food in the world would do you no good. For this reason, I decided to focus on water storage for our first landmark on our trip to Destination Preparedness.
Emergency Essentials Inc. suggested the first place I needed to store water was in my 72-hour emergency kits. Of course, you may choose to outfit your pack with basic water bottles. They are easy to find at your local grocery store. But if you would like something specifically made for long-term storage, you can store water in a metallized water pouch. These nifty little containers look a lot like those juice boxes or pouches you would put in your child's lunch box. They are specially treated, filled with purified water, and are specifically made for long term storage--perfect for that emergency kit!
Now that you have your survival stash for the first three days of an emergency, what about storing water in your home? Did you know that you should consider having both stationary and portable water? Let's explore the least expensive and most space-efficient ways to store large volumes of water, both portable and stationary.
Portable water is stored in containers of approximately five gallons or less. (Remember: eight pounds per gallon!) These are very helpful to have on hand for transporting your stored water to a usable location, like your car, if the emergency requires leaving. Once the water has been used, simply fill up the jug again from your stationary source. Five gallon jugs are a great choice for your portable water storage. You can also use washed out plastic soda pop bottles, but be sure to clean them out well and store them away from light and other storage items that could be damaged should the bottles leak. Do not use milk jugs; they are much more prone to bacterial growth and the plastic breaks down over time. The key to good water storage is to have a clean, sturdy container that protects against light penetration. This key inhibits bacteria growth.
One of the best ways to store a portable source of water is a boxed water kit. These kits come with a metallized bag that you fill with water and then place in a sturdy cardboard box. In an emergency, the sturdy box can even double as an emergency toilet!
The most common containers for larger, stationary water storage are those blue water barrels you see around. These heavy-duty, polyethylene barrels are made of food-grade materials. Barrels made for water are usually blue. Color is important, as blue indicates water storage and red indicates fuel storage. (Remember those fuel containers for your lawn mower?) Be aware that other colors may not be made of food-grade plastic.
You can purchase blue watter barrels in many sizes, with fifty-five-, thirty-, and five-gallon barrels being the most common. Try and store your blue barrels in a cool, dark area. A basement is perfect. Make sure there is an insulation barrier between the barrel and the ground. I've got mine perched upon some wood leftover from a home improvement project. It is not recommended to store your barrel outside, but if it is absolutely necessary, be sure to keep the barrel out of sunlight and be careful not to fill it too high! You need about one-tenth of the barrel empty to allow for expansion should it freeze. It is also wise to insulate the barrel and protect it from the elements as much as possible. Oh, and don't forget to grab that bung wrench and siphon pump! Those are the tools you'll need to open your barrel and siphon the water out.
So the next question that sprung up in my mind was how much water should I store? I discovered that experts recommend storing a minimum of fourteen gallons per person. This is a two week supply if you store the minimum one gallon per person per day suggested for drinking and minor sanitation. (Minor sanitation?)
I sit here thinking about my own family of five, four of which are females. I can't imagine this gaggle of girls using just one gallon comfortably. For this reason, I've decided we are going to store some extra for our next emergency.
Have we quenched your thirst for knowledge on water storage? I hope so. You are now ready to equip your family with the most necessary of all supplies--water!