What Threats do YOU Possibly Face?
One of the first tasks you must undertake in preparedness activities is analyzing the most likely challenges you will face. While surprises always happen, some threats are so remote that you’d probably never even consider them. BUT…you must always look at the bigger picture.
For example, where I once built a house here in the low mountains of North Carolina, flooding of my home was one of the most remote possibilities. I lived about 500 feet above a major river in the area and about 1 lateral mile from it. To get flooded there meant that the Great Flood II had struck. Not likely.
BUT… once we were hit by the remnants of a hurricane, which dumped very heavy rain suddenly in the area and high winds were doing substantial damage. I tried to leave (not knowing how bad it REALLY was out there) and had to turn back because the small bridge across a small lazy stream had washed out and was my only access to major roads. That bridge had withstood many “normal” floods, but this one was more than it could handle (like a LOT of bridges in the area). Many folks could not leave their own homes for many days! Power was also out.
So….here you are, stuck in your own home, can’t travel to get supplies or assistance of any kind, no power for days, possible damage to your home letting in the rain and wind….what do you DO???? (see how easy it is to get in over your head by circumstances you never considered?)
So let’s start with the basics: food and water. We’ll deal with foreseen events that you can see coming, such as hurricanes and blizzards, and unforeseen events such as earthquakes. REMEMBER THIS!!!: EARTHQUAKES CAN STRIKE ANYWHERE!!! Don’t ever feel your location is immune to them!
Now for water: you’ve probably read or heard that you should have enough water stored so that each person can have 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per day. That’s a lot of water for a family of four for a week: 28 gallons (and that’s just a survival level). Never forget: water is HEAVY! If you’re storing large quantities in a small space, make sure the flooring/shelving is strong enough to support it.
Also, there’s the problem of safe storage. Keep your water in a cool, protected place so that it’s not in the sun nor in a place where it will freeze (if indoors, we’ll deal with outdoor reservoirs later). Examine your situation with your personal water supply NOW! Is it chlorinated/treated for bacteria? If so, you usually don’t need to do anything else except fill your containers and store them properly. Most municipal supplies around the world are so chemically treated that it’s hard to drink sometimes. In this situation this can be a plus.
For those who have wells and springs, you need to test your bacterial levels. You can buy kits to do so or take the cheap route and simply put some in a closed container in a warm place (NOW you can put them in the sun). See if the water becomes cloudy, smells different, or starts growing strange life-forms. If so, you need to add a few drops of unscented bleach to each gallon. I’ve put water away untreated from our well for up to 2 years and it tasted fine. But DON’T TAKE CHANCES!! Your very life and the lives of your loved ones are too important to quibble about the taste/aesthetics of chlorinated water.
Milk jugs are one of the most immediate things many folks think of for storing water. There’s one big problem: in the U.S., at least, milk jugs are biodegradable. That means that they are made to break down after time. Therefore, they will start leaking in a few months to a year. So you might not have as much water stored as you think you do when you go to use them. Plus, their leakage may cause serious damage to your storage area. Keep them where their potential leaking won’t do any damage.
Another possibility for free storage containers is soft drink bottles or any plastic bottles designed to hold liquids for extended periods. (what about leaching chemicals? We won’t deal with that right now). 2 and 3 liter bottles are great for storing and they have other uses. They’re a good size that even children can handle them and they’re strong. These containers you CAN store in a place that freezes, would you believe???? Yes, you can. I’ve had 3 containers of water in my car for decades (the SAME ones), and they’ve never leaked even though they freeze repeatedly in the winter. The secret?? Just squeeze the sides in a little when filling and leave a little air gap at the top. That way, when they freeze and expand, there’s extra room for them to do so without breaking the container. I even keep a couple in my refrigerator freezer to keep it as full as possible (so it freezes more efficiently, and to keep it frozen longer when power outages strike).
I have also used the plastic bags which are in boxed wines as storage containers (never said I was a wine connoisseur). These have the added advantages of being flexible, strong, have a spout and have a long life. I’ve kept one of these in my car trunk (sliding around) for many years. Since the bags are flexible, they can be stored/carried/used in many ways rigid containers cannot.
Many people today (for some stupid reason) buy vast quantities of bottled water. While this is easy and convenient, it has drawbacks. First is the cost (water is free or practically so almost everywhere); the impact on the environment (both in production and disposal); most folks buy large numbers of packaged small bottles (ridiculous for cost, storage, waste, etc). BUY A FILTER IF YOUR DOMESTIC WATER IS SO BAD!! Buy a few good quality water bottles and refill them if you really need to carry some with you. (how did we get sucked in to this phony scam??? We’ll discuss this in “Social Activism”).
Now, for the flip side of this rant: buy some bottled water! No, I’m serious!! But make it the 2.5 gallon (in the U.S.) which have a handle and a spigot. In my seminars, I recommend that you get one for each sink. When water is off, just put the container on the edge of the sink and use normally. When the water gets low, cut a triangular hole in the top (so it sort of self-closes) and refill with your safely stored water. The plastic wine bags can be used the same way. Put a book(s) or bag of beans on the bag to add water pressure. This Works!! I’ve done all these things for decades and it’s very convenient.
For campers and outdoors people, you probably already have 5-7 gallon water containers with a convenient carrying handle, an easy-fill opening, and a spigot. These you use exactly the same as the above.
Some folks already know that if there’s the potential for power outages (no water), to clean and fill your bathtub before hurricanes, blizzards, etc. Unfortunately, many homes today do not HAVE bathtubs, only showers. So, what to do?? If you have a clothes washer in your home, fill it before the threatening event. It’s much harder to dip out of and doesn’t hold as much, but usually is close to the toilet, so can be used for flushing (we’ll deal with the specifics of sanitation in a later post–much information on that).
So much for “simply” storing water. In other posts, we’ll deal with locating sources, transport, sterilization and creating your own reservoirs. Please contact me with further questions or comments.