By Chris Andrews

June 2, 2024

How to Prepare for When the Water Runs Out

Water is the cornerstone of survival, often taken for granted until scarcity hits. In a disaster, when taps run dry, your previously laid plans for water storage and purification become your lifeline. Understanding the nuances of effectively storing and treating water can safeguard your family during emergencies. Grasping this, you’ve possibly amassed water in clean glass bottles or opaque plastic containers, ensuring a contamination-free supply. However, even with meticulous planning, vigilance is crucial; inspecting stored water for impurities is a step you shouldn’t overlook when deciding how to prepare for when the water runs out.

Key Takeaways

Effective preparedness includes water storage and an actionable plan for sourcing and purification.

Regular inspection and knowledge of safe storage practices ensure longevity and safety of water reserves.

A combination of filtration and purification methods is essential for securing a potable water supply during emergencies.

With readiness in mind, consider a gallon per person per day as a guiding metric for water storage. If necessity dictates, having the know-how to harness natural sources and the tools for filtration and purification can make all the difference. Understand purification methods like bleach treatment or iodine tablets, and learn to recognize safe plastics by their identification codes. Your car, your bag, your home can all harbor these essential resources, but the key is to apply this knowledge to ensure your water remains pure, potable, and ready in the face of uncertainty.

Necessity of Strategic Hydration Planning

When facing a disaster, it’s crucial to have an actionable strategy for water procurement and storage. Acknowledge the potential scarcity of running water and take comfort in having a reserve. Ascertain methods to gather water, whether it’s from rainwater catchment systems or nearby natural sources. Emphasizing the two-step process of water treatment: filtration removes particulates, whereas purification targets harmful organisms and contaminants.

Let’s explore a few critical points:

  • Water Longevity: Water does not spoil. Stored water may develop an off taste over time but remains potable after proper treatment.

  • Storage Solutions: Consider repurposing existing containers. For example, thoroughly cleaned glass bottles can serve well. Monitor stored water regularly for contamination, exemplified by any residue in containers, as shown below.

Visibility TestAction
ClearLikely Clean
Particulates PresentRequire Filtration
  • Plastic Containers: Use containers that are dark and have an opaque quality to protect water from light, which maintains freshness.

  • Container Safety: Opt for containers with recycling symbols #1, #2, or #4. These are generally safe for water storage. Avoid containers previously used for milk or with strong odors as they may compromise water taste.

Safe PlasticsAvoid
#1 PETEMilk Jugs
#2 HDPEStrong Smell Containers
#4 LDPE 
  • Daily Allowance: Store at least one gallon of water per person per day.

  • In the Wild: Carry equipment for both filtration and purification. A portable stove and a metallic container can boil water while a clean cloth can serve as an initial filter.

  • Disinfection Methods: Use unscented household bleach (8 drops per gallon) for purification. Alternatively, iodine tablets are portable and effective, though they may affect flavor.

By arming yourself with knowledge and tangible solutions, you mitigate the fear of water scarcity. Adapt these guidelines to fit your unique circumstances, ensuring your readiness for any situation.

Methods of Preserving Water

Storing in Transparent Glass

Ensure any glass container you plan to store water in is thoroughly cleaned at high heat, such as in a dishwasher. Once sanitized, fill them with water and store them in a cool place, like at the base of your fridge. Regularly inspect these bottles for clarity; any signs of discoloration or sediment might indicate contamination even if the container was initially clean. This underscores the need for careful sterilization, especially around the sealing areas like the lid’s rubber gasket, which can harbor bacteria.

Detecting Polluted Water

Always examine water before you consider it safe for use. If you discover stored water appears tainted or has suspicious particles floating in it, treat it as contaminated. Any sediments, abnormal colors, or growth within the container suggest the water needs filtering and purifying before consumption. Visibility of contaminants can be a useful indicator, but remember that many harmful substances and organisms can be present without visual cues – always err on the side of caution.

Utilizing Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Containers

For water storage in plastic containers, use ones that provide some protection against light, as complete opacity is ideal for keeping water fresh. Recycle containers that previously held non-toxic substances, ensuring they are clear of residual odors and flavors that could transfer to the water. Aim for containers bearing recycling symbols 1, 2, or 4, indicative of food-safe materials. Rectangular containers with sturdy bases are convenient for stable storage and handling. Properly sanitize and rinse all containers before filling them up to prevent bacterial growth.

Here are guidelines for storing water in plastic containers:

  • Color: Darker containers are preferable.
  • Material: Look for the recycling number inside a triangular symbol on the bottle’s bottom.
    • PET #1, High-density polyethylene (HDPE) #2, and Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) #4 are safe for water storage.
  • Avoid:
    • Containers that previously held milk or juice, as they can harbor residues and bacteria.
    • Bottles without recognizable recycling symbols.
    • Containers that impart flavors, such as those that had stored flavored beverages.

Ensure each person has access to at least one gallon of stored water per day, accounting for drinking, cooking, and basic hygiene.

Table of Useful Container Types for Water Storage:

Recycling SymbolMaterialLight ProtectionFrequency of Use
#1 PETTransparentLowCommon
#2 HDPEOpaqueHighIdeal
#4 LDPEVarying OpacityMediumAcceptable

Remember, cleaning and preparing your containers is just as important as choosing the right type for ensuring safe water storage.

Water Treatment Techniques

Methods for Conditioning Water Reserves

In a crisis, your stashed water might become your lifeline. If you’ve previously set aside water in glass bottles—perhaps sterilized and housed at the base of your fridge—they could serve as a ready supply. Inspect such reserves closely; any lapse in sterilization can lead to contamination. For instance, a tainted rubber ring inside the cap could introduce unwelcome particles into the water. Though older water might taste peculiar, proper filtration and purification render it safe for use.

Expedient Water Purification in the Wild

When conveniences are out of reach and you need water, knowledge of natural water purification is crucial. A simple metal container can serve as a makeshift boiler to eliminate pathogens. Boiling water for a duration of ten minutes is generally sufficient. However, prior to boiling, preliminary filtration can be achieved with materials like a sock or bandanna to remove larger debris. This dual process—filtration followed by purification—ensures the safest outcome in the absence of modern conveniences.

Disinfecting Water with Chemicals

Chemical disinfection is another effective approach for making water potable. Unscented household liquid bleach stands out as a convenient option—merely eight drops purify a gallon. Remember, only plain, scent-free bleach should be used. Alternatively, iodine tablets, commonly stocked in survival kits, offer a portable solution. These often come in two types: one to purify the water and another to improve taste after treatment. Use these chemical methods respecting the specified quantities to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Effective Methods for Storing Water

Storing Water in Your Vehicle

Keeping water in your automobile is essential for emergency preparedness. One practical idea is to utilize containers that are designed to fit snugly and prevent sliding, such as those with square bases. A good example is repurposed one-gallon aloe vera bottles, ideal for individual daily water needs. Ensure they’re well-cleaned and store them in your car, so you’re prepared wherever you go.

Identifying Safe Plastics for Water Storage

When opting for plastic containers, choosing the right type is crucial for safe water storage. Look for recycling codes on the bottom, encased in a triangle symbol. Only use plastics labeled with the numbers 1, 2, or 4, as they are considered safe for water storage. Containers like clean soda bottles that are nearly opaque and bear the number 2 are typically good choices, provided they are thoroughly sterilized before use. Avoid containers like milk jugs that are not suitable for long-term water storage.

Strategies for Water Preparedness

Having a reserve of clean water is critical in any emergency scenario; you’ll be grateful for taking the initiative to store it beforehand. Imagine the situation where your taps run dry—having a cache of water from a variety of sources, or even a rudimentary collection system, could prove invaluable.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Longevity of Water: Water, by nature, doesn’t spoil. Stored water, even from years back, is typically safe after proper filtration and purification, though you might notice a stale taste.

  • Storage Solutions: Reuse your glass bottles by sanitizing and filling them with water. It’s an efficient use of resources to store them in your refrigerator. Beware of potential contamination from lids not cleaned properly, which can cause impurities.

  • Plastic Containers: When choosing plastic, opt for containers with an opaque quality to prevent light penetration, keeping your water fresher. Important: the container should be flavorless; otherwise, the stored water may inherit unwanted tastes.

  • Safety Identification: Look for recycling codes 1, 2, or 4 at the bottom of plastic containers enclosed in a triangle. These are generally safe for water storage.

  • Wilderness Resources: In your emergency or ‘bug-out’ bag, include tools for both filtering, such as a cloth or sock, and purifying water. A metal pot is ideal for boiling water, which is necessary for safe consumption.

  • Purification Methods: The use of plain, unscented bleach is one method—only eight drops are needed to purify a gallon of water. Alternatively, iodine tablets can serve this purpose, albeit with a distinctive taste.

Remember, one gallon per person per day is the rule of thumb for adequate hydration. Having the know-how to procure, store, and treat water can secure your well-being in times of crisis.

Further Reading

The US government has some handy resources for all kinds of emergency situations, including drought, which can be found on their official site.

Chris Andrews

About the author

Hi, I'm Chris and these days I love nothing more than spending quality time with my son outdoors. As an army cadet in the 80s I was given a real insight into how to look after myself and those around me in unfamiliar environments. No huts, no tents, just survival rations for food and ponchos for makeshift shelter. This started a drive within me to be able to take care of myself and, nowadays, my family in any eventuality.

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