Survival Basics: Water

6509427983 d10d955449 q Survival Basics: WaterWhen we first started Strategic Living, we had planned to publish articles about life, about prepping and about the skills you need to survive under a myriad of questionable global circumstances.  More succinctly, we felt a shift in the air and wanted to get out there on the leading edge of enlightenment so that we could be ready for a future quite different from what we had become accustomed.

Both G’s, George and Gaye, feel that we have strayed somewhat from that original mission and have stepped back to re-evaluate, re-group, and re-launch.  Starting the 15th, we will be putting our heads together and figuring it all out.  When we say putting our heads together, we mean in real-time with George and Elaine visiting Gaye and Shelly on San Juan Island is Washington State.  So barring SHTF or TEOTWAWKI in the next two weeks, expect new things from Strategic Living right around the end of Summer.

Back to Survival Basics

While George covers news and the economy (with wit and humor we might add) over at Urban Survival, Gaye is busy at Backdoor Survival focusing on prepping the basics such as food, water shelter and fire. Today she shares with us the essentials of water for survival.

Water – The Most Important Survival Basic

Clean water is something that we all take for granted. We turn on the faucet and there it is. It is plentiful, it is clean and it is drinkable. Yes, it may have some undesirable chemical additions (fluorides come to mind) but that is a subject for another day. So if a disaster occurred and the supply lines to fresh water were comprised, we would be in a pickle. There is a possibility that safe water would not be available for days and possibly not for weeks.6881958038 24b2184470 Survival Basics: Water

For this reason, the American Red Cross, FEMA, and just about every other authority out there recommends that the public store at least one gallon of water per person, per day for a minimum of three days. But if you think that a three day water supply is adequate, think again.

A more reasonable recommendation is that you up the recommended amount of stored water to a two week supply. So for two people that would be 2 people x 1 gallon x 14 days = 28 gallons. This amount should cover your minimal needs for drinking, food preparation and nominal – and I mean nominal – hygiene.

Water Storage

Storing water for an emergency can be as simple as filling thoroughly washed plastic or glass containers with tap water and sealing them tightly. This is something that anyone can do without incurring a cost so long as few simple rules are followed.

So let’s do it. Let us store some water following these steps:

1. Clean them up. Thoroughly clean your plastic bottle and jugs with dishwashing soap and water then rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

2. Sanitize with bleach. Sanitize your bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of on-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the containers so that it touches all interior surfaces. Don’t forget to sanitize the lids and caps as well. After sanitizing the containers and caps, thoroughly rinse out the bleach solution with clean water.

3. Fill ‘em up. Fill them to the top with regular tap water. Add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water, then tightly close the containers using the original caps. It is probably a good idea to use some latex or nitrile gloves Survival Basics: Water at this point so that you maintain the sanitation and do not contaminate the caps by touching the inside of them with your fingers.

4. Date the outside with a permanent marker such as a Sharpie .

5. Store in a cool, dark place.

6. Important: rotate in six months. Dump the water, re-sanitize the jugs, and start all over. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to put up a few jugs at the first of each month. Do this for six months and you will build up a nice, rotating stock.

Plastic soda bottles or juice jugs work well for this purpose.

Water stored this way is good for six months to a year as long as it is kept in a cool, dark place. Regardless of where it is kept, the containers should be rotated at the end of the designated period.

Note: Milk jugs should not be used since the milk and protein sugars are difficult to remove and will compromise the stored water because this will provide an environment for bacteria growth. In addition, milk jugs are flimsy and will not hold up, even for a short period of time. Ditto cardboard. The cardboard will eventually leak and make a big mess. Glass is okay but be aware that glass is heavy and subject to breakage.

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If you have the space and the budget, you can purchase food-grade plastic drums designed for water storage. These typically hold 55 gallons of water and with the addition of proper purification chemicals, will keep the water safe for up to five years. I personally have a 55 gallon water storage system. It was easy to set up and it came outfitted as a complete kit with all of the various tools and siphons I will need if/when that emergency situation occurs.

Another alternative, of course, is bottled water. The same rule applies: store in a cool, dark area and periodically rotate.

Hidden Sources of Water

In addition to tap water, there are other hidden sources of water that you can use when a disaster occurs. These sources include the water in your hot water heater, pipes, and even the ice cubes from the icemaker in your refrigerator or freezer. Before tapping in to these sources, however, you will first need to shut off the main valve coming in to your home so that you do not contaminate the ”good” water with the “bad”.

Here are some specific instructions for using the water in your hot water tank:

  • Turn off the electricity of gas.
  • Open the drain at the bottom of the tank.
  • Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on a hot-water faucet.
  • And don’t forget: be sure to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on.

Outdoor Sources of Water

Barring the use of stored water or the hidden water sources in your home, there is always the outdoors. Water may be available from rainwater, streams, ponds, lakes and natural streams. But absolutely stay away from flood water since it is likely to contain sewage and other nasties that you do not even want to think about.

When using outdoor sources of water, you are going to have to undertake purification measures to make it safe. There are many ways to purify water, some better than others and some easier than others.

Water Purification

For ad hoc water purification, nothing beats plain old Clorox as long as it is fresh (no more than a year old) and unscented.

According to the Clorox website: When boiling off water for 1 minute is not possible in an emergency situation, you can disinfect your drinking water with Clorox® Regular-Bleach as follows:

1. Remove suspended particles by filtering or letting particles settle to the bottom.

2. Pour off clear water into a clean container.

3. Add 8 drops of Clorox® Regular-Bleach (not scented or Clorox® Plus® bleaches) to one gallon of water (2 drops to 1 quart). For cloudy water, use 16 drops per gallon of water (4 drops to 1 quart).

Boiling water is considered the safest method of purifying water. What you do is bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes. The water may not taste that great but it will be safe to drink.

Factoid: To improve the taste of boiled or stored water, you can put some oxygen back in to the water by pouring it back and forth between two containers.

As an alternative to bleach or boiling water, the EPA has guidelines for using calcium hypochlorite, common sold as “pool shock” to disinfect water:

Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water.

The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated.

This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.

A good reference for this and other purification methods can be found in the downloadable and printable article Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water.

What About Water Filters

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The use of water filters to make raw water drinkable is another solution to the water for survival dilemma. The nice thing about a filtration system is that it will not only supplement your stored water, but will provide you with great tasting, chemical free drinking water for day to day. I personally have a Royal Berkey and to tell the truth, wonder what took me so long to discover this alternative to purchased water in bottles and a countertop Brita.

This is not to say that I don’t have bottled water because I do. After all, if I have to leave my home it would be tough to drag along a 55 gallon water barrel or a Berkey. But for day to day drinking as well as long term survival needs, you simply can not beat a quality filtration system.

Summing It All Up

Thanks to a tip from one of the Backdoor Survival readers, I learned that you can find pre-used, food grade plastic drums on Craigslist for about $25 each. If you decide to check in to this, be sure to confirm that the original contents was food then clean them well first with vinegar and baking soda to remove odors and then with bleach for sanitation.

Here in my area, there is a fellow that sells such barrels and will even add a hose bib at the bottom for a nominal cost. I am not 100% sure I would drink from such a barrel but the water inside should be great for bathing, laundry and housekeeping chores.

Another reader has suggested the use of colloidal silver to get rid of bacteria in water. I have not researched this personally, however.

Whatever your water storage method of choice, I highly recommend that you store at least two weeks of water for every member of your household. Just remember, you can survive an average of three to five days without the intake of water. Why take a chance?

Hang on and enjoy the ride,

The Two G’s – George & Gaye

Spotlight Items: Today we highlight a selection of water storage and filtration options.

55-Gallon Barrel Combo: Check around because prices vary on this combo. Back in January 2011, Gaye paid about $160 for the same thing so anything less than $130 (with shipping) is a great deal.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

waterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage Survival Basics: Water: Have you considered storing water in your bathtub? The Water Bob is a bladder that you can use in your bathtub to store water if you know that a storm, flood, or hurricane is brewing.

NALGENE BPA-Free Water Bottle: These $8 water bottles have served me well. Gaye fill’s them up with water from her Royal Berkey and keep one bedside, one at my desk and another in the bathroom. Keep in mind that price-wise, some colors will be more expensive so if color does not matter, go with the cheapest (currently the green version).

Sport Berkey Portable Water Purifier Survival Basics: Water Survival Basics: Water: The Sport Berkey is perfect for your Survival Kit since it is so lightweight. As with the larger Berkey’s, the sport bottle reduces harmful microscopic pathogens as well as unpleasant tastes. Unlike purchased water, these bottles can be refilled over and over again.

Colloidal Silver Medical Uses, Toxicology & Manufacture: If you are interested in learning more about colloidal silver, this is the book to get. It is written by John Hill, the same author of How to Live on Wheat which G2 reviewed awhile back in the article Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies.

Sharpie Permanent Markers Survival Basics: Water: The ubiquitous Sharpie pen is great way to mark your water with the date so that you have a reference when it comes time to rotate and replace. Less than $8 for a box of 12 markers is a great price – better than Costco, Office Depot, and Staples.

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Survival Basics: Water — 6 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Sunday Survival Buzz - Volume 20


  3. Pingback: Survival Basics: Water | Pakalert Press

  4. Cheaper Than Dirt ( )For $30.00 has a real good ceramic filter that I have used. It makes 14 gallons a day and can be cleaned 100 times with a soft brush when necessary. Below is info from the description on the web site:

    Just Water, monolithic ceramic drip filter works as well as the high end British ones only at a fraction of the cost!

    This half-micron filter removes water-borne bacterium with a 0.5 micron efficiency which exceeds NSF standards. The ceramic filter can be cleaned with a soft brush at least 100 times, and it produces 14 gallons of drinking water per day. This system includes a ceramic filter, filter sock, and spigot.

    Simply double stack two clean five gallon buckets with lids, drill a 1/2″ hole in the bottom of the top bucket and through the top of the bottom buckets lid, place sock over filter and install it in the bottom of the top bucket. Drill a 3/4″ hole on the side and near the bottom of the bottom bucket and install the spigot. Fill the top bucket with water from a lake, rain, tap, river or stream and in an hour you will have bacteria free water to drink in the bottom bucket.

    Non-returnable, buckets not included. See our item # CAMP-309 for a food grade, standard 5 gallon bucket. Need just a filter? See our item # CAMP-354. Same ceramic filter material and made by the same company, but in common “candle” shape and without the sock or spigot.

    Filters are manufactured to meet:
    National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Standard 42
    National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Standard 53
    ISO 9002 Quality Standard
    USA AEL Laboratories
    USA Analytical Food Laboratories
    USA Johns Hopkins University Laboratory
    Abbot Laboratory South Africa
    University of Chihuahua Mexico
    British 5750 Quality Standard
    England’s Water Research council (WRc) Performance Standards

    The filtration efficiency is 0.5 micron
    Removal capabilities as follows:
    99% Arsenic 5 and 99% Arsenic 3 (special order)
    99% Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S special order)
    95% Chlorine and Chloramines
    99% Taste
    99% Odor
    98% Aluminum
    96% Iron
    98% Lead
    90% Pesticides
    85% Herbicides
    85% Insecticides
    90% Rodenticides
    85% Phenols
    85% MTBE
    85% Perchlorate
    80% Trihalomethanes
    95% Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons
    99.999% of particles larger than 0.5 micron (Staffordshire University Labs) (includes Anthrax)
    99.7% of particles larger than 0.3 micron (Staffordshire University Labs)
    98% of particles larger than 0.2 micron (Staffordshire University Labs)
    100% Giardia Lamblia
    100% Cyclospora
    100% removal of live Cryptosporidium (WRc Standard)
    100% removal of Cryptosporidium (NSF Standard 53 – A.C. fine dust – 4 log challenge)
    100% removal of E. Coli, Vibrio Cholerae (Johns Hopkins University)
    99.999% removal of Salmonella Typhil, Shigella Dysenteria, Kiebsiella Terrigena (Hyder Labs)

    Product is silver impregnated and will not permit bacteria growth-through (mitosis) provides a hostile environment for all microbiological organisms and will not support their growth. Ceramic elements may be cleaned 100 or more times with a soft brush or damp cloth.

  5. Great, thanks for this Gaye. I’d love to be the fly on the wall up there in the islands with you all. I grew up in the Puget Sound area, spent lots of time on the islands and on the Peninsula, and have really fond memories of the area.

    I just have one point. If you use a felt marker on a plastic bottle, aren’t you running the considerable risk of the chemicals in the ink (reallt bad, from what I understand) leaching through the plastic into the water? Or are there completely non-toxic felt pens one should use?

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