Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Several readers have asked questions about water storage. Every person who writes or speaks about preparing for an emergency puts this at the top of their DO NOW list.  The television continually broadcast critical issues of preparedness before Hurricane Sandy approached our shores. Water was ALWAYS at the top of their list of precautions and warnings. Officials told people water and electric service would be affected and might not be available for a much longer time than the 72 hour you are on your own before help can arrive period that is on ALL the emergency web sites. Huge numbers of people ignored advice figuring life would go on as usual. Some may still be thirsty, hungry, cold and sitting in the dark if they aren’t at the FEMA shelters.
Disasters are unpredictable so people in all parts of America must be prepared to weather the storms.  I looked up the interesting word weather. One dictionary definition reads: stormy or disagreeable atmospheric conditions. Conversely it means: to survive successfully. God has planned a way for us to overcome the adversities that come our way. We are more than conquerors through our Lord, Christ Jesus. So we go before Him and get His plan of action for our families. It is prudent to heed the wisdom of those who are the experts in emergency preparedness.

Water must be our top priority. We drink our tap water now. It is perfectly safe to store as is. If you are storing it in gallon plastic jugs the time limitation generally refers to the degradable element of the jug. Those are designed to disintegrate in landfills. That is why people recommend limiting them to 6 months - 1 year. As I have had a failed jug, I don’t want the clean-up chore of a gallon of water EVERYWHERE ever again.  If you are storing it in 2-liter hard plastic bottles, the time frame is much longer although no one is speculating about HOW much time you have. This may be because people are not having bottle failure and no one knows how long they will last. Poor landfills!!!
It is not necessary to treat tap water before you store it. If you are storing well water, it would be a good precaution. However many experienced preppers recommend treating stored water with Clorox as a precaution before you use it. I think that is a good idea, just to be on the safe side if you used recycled containers because there is a possibility that bacteria could have remained after you cleaned and sanitized.
If you have purchased barrels or other long-term storage containers you might want to treat as you fill them up – especially if you used rain water from your gutter system. The containers do not biodegrade and will be safe for much longer times. Who wants to empty 55 gallons every six month?

Where in the world do you store all that water? I have been shoving it in a corner of my basement. Well, I need that space for food storage. I just read that a seasoned prudent preparer stores his water in the garage and has never had a freezing problem. So, as much trouble as it is to transfer, I plan to shift it. I will keep a three-day supply handy though.

Right now, I’m storing in recycled containers. I plan to use my 55 gallon barrels to catch rain water.  When we lived in Haiti we had a cistern that collected the city water that ran 2 hours a day. Every house had one. I am thinking that might be a really great idea for us in America. Has anyone buried a stock tank? I’ll do some research and get back with you.
Below is a treatment chart that might help. Just remember the amounts are for treated water. If you find you must get water from sources other than your city’s treatment plant or a certified well, double the amounts of PLAIN Clorox after you have let all sediment settle. Boiling for 1 minute is still the recommended way to go. I’ll talk more about treatment alternatives another post.

Get a couple of new non-clear medicine bottles with a dropper from your pharmacist and fill with Clorox having 5-6% sodium hypochlorite . Keep one bottle with your Go-Kit. Clorox has a short shelf-life of about 6 months. You will have to put a note on your Preparedness Calendar to replace after that time period. Just empty and refill.
1 Quart = 4 drops
2 Quarts / 0.5 Gallon = 8 drops = 1/8 teaspoon
1 Gallon = 16 drops = 1/4 teaspoon
2 Gallons = 32 drops = ½ teaspoon
4 Gallons = 64 drops = 1 teaspoon
12 Gallons = 192 drops = 1 Tablespoon
24 Gallons = 384 drops = 1/8 cup which is 2 Tablespoons
55 Gallons = 880 drops = 5 Tablespoons which is 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon (approximately!)

Stir the water and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Chlorine should be detectable by odor after the waiting period. If the water does not smell like chlorine at that point, repeat the dose and let it stand another 15 minutes and check the smell again. There should also be a slight chlorine taste.

Before you use your stored water, you can pour it from one container to another a couple of times to put oxygen back into it to remove the “flat” taste. This is also why it is a great idea to have packets of add-ins on hand. The water will be safe to drink, but the taste is somewhat altered.

The guidelines are 1 gallon, per day, per person. Remember, the water you buy at the store in gallon jugs has the same limitations as those you fill yourself from the tap. The jugs are safe because they are food-grade plastic, but they are designed to break apart.
My daughter fills lots of containers with tap water and lets them to sit on the counter uncapped about 24 hours. She uses this water to tend to her plants.   They thrive and do not have the brown ends mine do. Great use for using up “expired” water.

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