Monday, February 8, 2010

Readiness Checklist: Water

You know, sometimes you just want something easy and the easiest thing in the world is having a checklist to follow.

Not having water can kill you in just a matter of days and contaminated water can kill you faster.

  • You need 1 gallon per person per day for drinking, and another gallon for bathing, hygiene and washing dishes.
  • For a 72 hour kit I suggest 12 liters of bottled water per person, I like liter bottles as they are small enough to hang off your belt, and redistribute to carry comfortably in a pack but big enough to be a useful size. A case of bottle water is cheap and easy to get.
  • If you know there is a disruption coming filling the bathtub, any pitchers and bowls, and all but one sink. Leave the kitchen sink open for culinary and sanitary uses.
  • Your home has some hidden water storage in it. If the municipal water system is fine then you can get water from the toilet reservoir (not the bowl), the  hot water heater and pipes (you'll need to open the highest faucet in your house first, and you will need a hoses to connect to the bottom of the heater so it doesn't spill, the first bit will be full of silt)
  • The rescue workers may create water distribution points, if the disaster is big enough. Having some 5 gallon water jugs and a way to carry them when they are full of 40 pounds of water. A shopping cart, bicycle, skateboard or rolling suitcase would help getting that water back home.

If you have rivers, lakes, rain and unknown wells nearby, you'll want to purify the water first.

  • Water purification tablets: follow the manufacturers instructions.
  • Unscented chlorine bleach: 1 quart = 2 drops for clear and 4 drops for cloudy water, 1 gallon = 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) for clear and 16 drops for cloudy water, 5 gallons = 1/2 teaspoon for clear and 1 teaspoon for cloudy
  • Boiling: You'll need a heat source like a fire or gas grill and a pot to hold the water, bring to a boil for 3-5 minutes and then cool and store. Make sure the containers you put it in are clean.
  • Water filter: There are many options here. Choose one that filters below 0.1 micron to capture spores and bacteria and below 0.015 micron to capture viruses. Add a well used bandana or handkerchief and a rubber band to act as a pre-filter on the front end of the hose.
  • Solar still: These can be bought in camping stores or you can make one from some plastic sheeting or bags, a cup and some tubing.