Water is the most important thing you can store. At best you can live approximately 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water and almost 30 days without food. But please do not take this as a challenge, as you will likely be in coma at the end of any of the 3 time frames, if you decide to test them. You should certainly store water (unless perhaps, you have your own well with a hand pump). There are an assortment of containers available for this purpose, but most consider 55 gallon barrels to be the best choice due to price, availability and ease of handling or moving, if necessary. Your stored water needs to be on your property and should be treated with bleach, or one of the many other water purification products on the market, and should not be stored directly on the ground or concrete (more on this later). Smaller storage containers may be necessary depending on where you live or your personal circumstances. If using bleach, use unscented bleach only. Three tablespoons will treat 55 gallons of water for long term storage. If using another product, simply follow the manufacturer’s directions. The barrels you use must be food grade. Never use a barrel (or any container) which previously held a non-food grade product, as no amount of cleaning will make it safe for drinking water. You will need a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person, per day. Remember the above rule of thumb… you can live up to 30 days without food, but only 3 days without water, and in most cases, after a disaster, the water will be off, or if from a city source, possibly unsafe to drink. Your stored water should be elevated at least 3” above the ground to allow for air circulation, to prevent contamination by Radon Gas (which can occur in as little as 1 years time, and occurs virtually everywhere). It’s important to note that even after treating your stored water, it is still advisable to rotate it. Water should remain fresh for 3 to 5 years, but a good rule-of-thumb, is to rotate it once a year.
Important additions to your water supply:
- Have several smaller containers (2 to 5-gallons in size). These are for drawing water off the drums for use around the house, and you may need them in the event of an evacuation.
- Have a barrel style siphon, for ease of drawing water from your barrels (assuming they’re standing up-right).
- Have a water filter. In the event of an extended emergency, you will likely run out of stored water, and any water which does not come from your stored reserves, should definitely be run through a professional carbon/ceramic type filter. Most of the bigger manufacturers of “hiking” water filters, also make larger capacity units, but many of the smaller “hiking” size units are capable of filtering fairly large quantities of water too. Do an internet search or check with local outdoor stores for an assortment of companies that make water filters. An important side note, never run dirty or murky water through your water filter, this will definitely harm it. A coffee filter (or in a pinch, even a paper towel) is an excellent way to filter “visible” impurities from dirty or murky water.
- Have a stove. If you’re in a bind, you can always boil water. However, this is not advisable, except as a last resort. Boiling water will kill all waterborne pathogens, but it will not remove toxins that might be present in the water which is gathered in or near a city. However, if this is your only option, the water should be brought to a rolling boil, and then kept there for at least two to three minutes.