04 June 2011

Preparedness Challenge: Water Storage

The new valve
This morning, as I was leaving the house with the kids to head to the local farmer's market, I noticed some water spraying from the irrigation pipes.  I walked closer to investigate, put my hand on the valve, and BOOM!  the pipe broke and water sprayed 20 feet in the air, as well as in my face.    Today was the day that "they" turned on the irrigation water.  I'm not sure exactly who the water turning on people are, so I had no idea who to call about this geyser in the back yard.  People around here water their lawns with this water, rather than the treated city water.  It's cheaper, I guess.  I stood there for a while, not sure what to do about this turn of events.  I wish I had taken a picture of it. 

The broken valve
I called the landlady who was sure I just needed to turn the valve.  I couldn't get her to understand that the valve was not attached to the water pipe anymore.  It was dancing around in the geyser water.  Thankfully, a neighbor heard the gusher and perhaps saw the new little river coursing through his yard and came over to offer some help.  He called Carlos, whoever that is, and got the water turned off until a plumber could fix the pipes.  We went to the market and when we came back, the geyser was no more and there is a new and improved valve on the pipe.

It occurred to me that maybe this was a sign that I should talk about water as it relates to emergency preparedness.  If that had been a main water line that broke, and we were without water for a day or more, would we be prepared?  I have been focusing on preparedness as it relates to a 72 hour kit, but I'm going to talk about general water preparedness as well.

Potable Aqua Purification TabletsDid you know that a person needs about 1 gallon of water per day?  That is two quarts of drinking water, plus water for cooking and hygiene.  Children may need even more, so for my family of five, I would need 15 gallons of water, at least.  That's pretty hard to carry in a 72 hour kit.  We do have enough water pouches for one person to last (supposedly) for three days and we have a canteen that can be easily carried, as well as water bottle holders on our backpacks, but we just won't be able to carry 15 gallons of water on our backs.  Instead, I plan to purchase some water purification tablets.  They are much easier to carry and will allow us to safely use whatever water we can find.

At home, it a bit easier to store water.  There are big barrels designed especially for water.  Just be sure you have them where you want them before you fill them because they are much too heavy to move once filled.  Another option for ensuring clean water is a good filter system such as this Berkey water system or this British Berefeld system.  As far as I can tell, they are basically the same thing.

If you are like me though, and don't have the money for a fancy filtration system and don't have the room for large barrels of water, there are other options.  Many people rinse out and refill used juice or soda bottles.  This is a cheap way to store water.  My mother used to fill old vinegar bottles and store them under our beds so they didn't take up too much room.

I still don't have much storage room to do that, so to store water, I use my empty canning jars.  I wash it, fill it with hot water and put it on the shelf where it would be sitting anyway.  Usually, the old lid still has enough power to seal if you use hot water.  You are supposed to rotate your stored water every six months and this method ensures that I do just that, since I will be using those jars soon.  The only big drawback of this is that there is a period of time where I don't have much water stored at all.  I do plan on filling old pop bottles to store under my bed and I should probably get to it before canning season gets underway.

Also, in instances of no water, remember that you can drain the hot water heater and use that water, as well as the water in the tank of the toilet. Keep in mind with this preparation that the one gallon/day is a bare minimum estimate.  In actuality, a normal household uses 50 gallons of water per day for drinking, bathing, laundry, dishes, toilet flushing, etc. 

What do you do to store water?

I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's preparedness challenge!


  1. We usually have some gallon milk jugs filled, for emergencies, or when our well pump goes out, which isn't very often. This is a great post. With all of the weather disasters lately, it's something we all need to think about.

  2. We buy our water in 5 gallon bottles that we used to use on our fountain - till it sprang a leak. Now we use a hand pump. Our well water is just so hard and ishy, I won't drink it. So we get the man to bring us 5 - 6 bottles at a time and order more when we crack open the last bottle, so he can take the empties back.

  3. Oh Nancy! I used the milk jug method.....but those are made to degrade, and will eventually leak. Mine did! I'm glad I found it before it got to the subflooring and.....

    I have been filling gallon vinegar bottles like your Mom did, Teekarro, hopefully a bit more sturdy. I also like your idea for using canning jars. 'No reason for them to sit around empty for so much of the year!

  4. If we have enough notice, we fill every large container available. If not we go to the neighbors since many are still on private wells,as are we. If all else fails, we are only 3 miles from a tributary of water. We could boil our drinking water, if bad came to worse, and get enough there to water the animals.

  5. I too do the milk jug method :) I never thought of draining the water heater if it was needed! Great tip:)

  6. real water storage information is hard to come by