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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Preparedness

Be Prepared - Part 2
Water

This week I’m going to focus on having plenty of water available for whatever emergency may hit our home. But how much water is enough? I said last time that I’m preparing more for the probability of an illness hitting our home and not being able to make my weekly shopping trip, or a winter storm that ends up a little harsher than expected and not being able to get to the store. But I think if you ask some residents of West Virginia who just had a chemical spill into their water supply last week, they would tell you that you can never have enough water! According to the US government’s emergency preparedness information, you should plan on one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. So that’s where I will start.

If you have your own safe source of drinking water (i.e. a well), or you have water tanks in which you could store extra water, that’s great. We do have a travel trailer for camping, so if we were aware ahead of time that we were going to be without water, we would be able to fill the water tank in the trailer to have an additional 40 gallons. But usually, you don’t have fair warning of an emergency.

I know that on a normal day, my family tries to each drink about two to three 16.9 ounce water bottles, along with anything else we might drink. Yes, I know they are an environmentalist’s nightmare, but this is what we do for much of our drinking water, along with filtered water in the fridge. We also recycle everything possible. Anyway, in an emergency, I would figure that we would probably need to each have four bottles per day minimum; that would be presuming the power being out and not drinking milk and juice, etc. So that’s eight bottles per day in my home just for drinking. I have two 24 packs of water stored right now, and I usually have an additional one or two in the house for us to drink. But for emergency purposes, I’ll consider the two packs only. That’s six days of water. After witnessing the mess in West Virginia, I think I will work on doubling that this week. If the bottles are on sale I’ll pick up two more packs (that would be $5 on sale for two). If not I’ll just get one pack ($3 regular price) each week for the next two weeks. That would give me four packs to store and 12 days of drinking water available by the end of the month.

Another consideration in our home is our pets. We have two (large) dogs and two cats. I know from our camping experience with the dogs, that together they go through about one gallon of water each day. I usually buy gallon jugs of water at the store at the beginning of camping season and use those, then refill them for each subsequent camping trip from the tap at home. The dogs are used to the tap water at home, and we don’t want any problems they might encounter from drinking the water at campgrounds. Though the water is not dangerous, it may also contain chemicals (or amounts of chemicals) they aren’t used to and it may cause stomach upset. And though the cats have their own water dish, they usually drink out of the dogs’ water dish. So, for the four pets, I would consider at least one gallon for all of them each day for drinking.

We also need to consider water for sanitation/cleaning if we have no clean source of water. I am planning on one gallon per day for my home for that purpose. That would probably be too much, but I’d rather be prepared than not. I do not intend to wash dishes during an emergency where the water is off or dangerous to use, so really the water would be for washing up and maybe cleaning a cooking pot. I would intend to use disposable dishes during this type of emergency, so the water can be used for drinking.

Right now I have 12 gallons of water stored. That’s a combination of new gallon jugs from the store, and gallon jugs I’ve refilled with tap water. I will need to get more because those 12 gallons would need to cover the pets plus cleaning/sanitation needs. I will probably try to pick up an additional gallon of water each week at the grocery store. In a few months we should be set on water.

I will cover non-food items I want to have on hand next week.

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