Prepper Basics – Priority #2: Water

Water:  The Elixir of Life

Water.  Without it, you die.  It is usually one of the first things that people think of when they think of prepping.  In my case, I put it at #2, because I could freeze to death before I died from lack of water.  Of course in some circumstances, other things might rise to the top.  But for a cold climate, heat is #1.

Note:  In this article, I will offer examples of products that fulfill the requirements I am writing about.  These are examples, not recommendations.

How Much Water?

The experts say you need 2 gallons of potable water per day per person.  That is for drinking, cooking, washing.  In addition, if you plan to use a flush toilet (and it has a working sewer or septic system), you need from 2 to 5 gallons per flush (assume 1 flush per person per day).  Note:  city sewer will stop fairly quickly after a wide-area blackout, as will city water.  For working toilets, if you don’t have a well and septic system, you need a different approach, not covered in this article.  Ensuring sanitary conditions is very high on the list, to prevent many diseases.

The amount of water adds up quickly.  For a week, per person, this adds up to 49 gallons.   For a family of 4 (parents + 2 children) this added up to 196 gallons per week!  Or, 56 gallons of potable water, and the rest “flush” water.

So a 50-gallon tank will only provide a family of 4 for a week, or a family of 2 for 2 weeks.  Better than nothing, for sure, but certainly not a long-term solution!  However, for short-term situations, they are a good solution.  They sell for as low as $62 and up.  An example from Amazon is here.

The problem with water storage tanks is.. the water gets stale, and it can get bacteria.  So, you need to treat the water, and swap it out with new water on a schedule.  This can be somewhat daunting.  There are articles and chemicals available on this process if you take this route.

Filtering Natural Sources

Another approach, if you are near natural water, such as a river, stream, lake or you have lots of rain, and can use water runoff, is to have a very good water filter.  There are many varieties of water filters for emergency use on the market to choose from.  You want one that will remove almost all virus and bacteria, and most chemicals from the water – especially heavy metals.  These are typically sub-micron filters with activated carbon inserts to remove chemicals.  The “Survivor” filter is an example of a 0.01 micron filter with carbon inserts, available on Amazon.  This particular unit includes a hand pump and a carry bag, and sells for around $60.  This is merely an example, not a recommendation (although it has 4.5 stars).

If you are using such a device for drinking water, be sure to be aware of what is upstream.  While bacteria and virus particles can be removed, along with other particles, and some chemicals, you want to avoid drinking downstream from where people are using the stream as a bathroom.  You will not likely get sick, but you might have a strong emotional reaction when you find out what your water source contains (Pre-filtered).

A Better Way

The more ideal solution for water in an emergency is – naturally – your own source:  a well.  A well will typically not be polluted by careless people, as it draws its supply from deep underground.  However, a well also requires a pump.  There are two kinds:  manual and electric.  A manual pump typically has to be primed, must be powerful enough to work at the depth of the water, and can be quite expensive to install for a modern well of 100 to 200 feet in depth.  Quotes I have received run well in excess of $1000, often much higher.  It is actually more expensive than an electric pump, which may run $500 or more.  But if you have a well, you already have an electric pump, don’t you?  So the problem then, is providing a backup electrical system that can keep the water flowing when the grid goes down.

Ideally, the well is matched with a septic system.  If you then provide the backup power for the well pump, you have solved both the water problem AND a major sanitary problem at the same time!

In the next blog, we will discuss how to construct a backup power system that can survive an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) from either a nuclear event or solar event, and provide you power for your well and other items.

City Dwellers Alert!

Of course, if you live in the city, you not only don’t have a well or a septic, you cannot have one.  And, in most cases, you don’t even have room for a 55-gallon drum of water!  This brings up the comments from my previous blog regarding a bug-out location and transportation.  Of course many people cannot afford creating a bug-out location of their own, nor can they ensure their ability to arrive safely.

If you can provide yourself and your family a bug-out location, fast action is essential – even starting a few minutes earlier than other people can make the difference between life and death.  All exits from a city will be jam packed, and will attract bad guys looking to loot and plunder.  Keep that fact in mind.  Review some of the scenarios related to large hurricanes, where they had days of warning, rather than a sudden catastrophe!  Chaos will reign, and having a plan and executing it calmly is essential.  But to be frank, living in a big city puts you in a very serious bind in serious emergency event – there is no way around it.  The longer you are trapped in the city, the more organized the bad guys will be, and the harder to escape.

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