While storing enough water for your family for the short term is a good start, there is much more you can do right now to ensure that your family has all the water they need in case of a crisis.
Choose the Right Containers
- When it comes to storing water long term, the type of container you chose can easily make the difference between life and death.
- Plastics: Food grade plastics are made to store liquids for long periods of time. When trying to determine if a container is food grade look for the numbers 1, 2, 5 and 4 with 2 being the most reliable.
- Glass: As a container for water, glass faces a number of issues including the ease at which it might break. What’s more, microscopic flaws in the glass cold hold bacteria and infect the water without you even knowing. With that said if you must store water in glass containers stick to Pyrex whenever possible and avoid it for long term storage whenever possible.
- Stainless steel: This is your best choice when it comes to storing water long term as most stainless steel can be expected to last at least 40 years, staying resilient and germ resistant the entire time.
Keep Your Water Clean
- Chlorine: Most tap water has chlorine added to it throughout its lifespan but depending on where you are getting your storage water you may need to add this yourself. A good rule of thumb is to include 2 drops of un-scented chlorine bleach to each 2 liters of water. The bleach you are looking for should have no more than 5.35 percent chlorine. Let any water chlorinated this way sit in an open container for at least 30 minutes prior to consumption.
- Calcium Hypochlorite: This additive is preferable to liquid bleach and lasts longer besides. Its common name is pool shock. When purchasing look to ensure that it has at least 68 percent but no more than 78 percent calcium hypochlorite and no water softeners. One pound of calcium hypochlorite is enough to ensure 10 thousand gallons of water remains clean. The ratio for keeping stored water should be 1:100.
- Iodine: This chemical can be used to ensure water is healthy if you have any questions about how it was stored. If the water is already clear than 5 drops of iodine should make sure it doesn’t harm you while 10 drops will make even murky water drinkable.
When and Where Matters
Ensuring that you keep your storage water in an appropriate location and making sure you rotate it every six months to account for contaminates you might not know about is just as important as taking the time to store the water in the first place. Ensure your water is kept in a dark, cool place which is also structurally sound and unlikely to be at the center of any emergency.
If you find yourself in a situation where it seems unlikely that regularly water service will resume, it is likely you will eventually have to worry about new ways to find water regardless of your reserves. If you are not lucky enough to have access to a well, there are a number of other alternatives, just in case.
- Water filters: These devices come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes depending on their intended uses. Water purifiers can be found which remove all of the harmful bacteria from water, remove radiation, even remove salt to make salt water drinkable. These products work by including an extremely small filter, a number of fiber filters or even ceramics. If you go this route, ensure your water purifier works autonomously or ensure you have an ample supply of filters.
- UV filters: While these devices require power, their needs can easily be met by even a portable solar panel. UV filters use UV rays to ensure that anything living in the water is instantly taken care of.
- Emergency Still: If you are planning on being near the ocean if an emergency occurs then getting a hold of an emergency still could easily save your life. These devices allow you to boil water before collecting the resulting steam in a way that contains it until it transforms back into water once more. The transformation will leave the water pure and indefinitely drinkable. An emergency still can be used to obtain drinkable water from urine, plant matter, even moist soil. A solar version of an emergency still can be made using a thick plastic tarp strung up above the liquid on a hot day.
Get the Right Water Pump
Despite the natural water features that may be on your land or the amount of water that you have stored away in case the worst happens, preparing to have a manual water pump on hand can make drawing water from underground sources much easier. When considering manual water pumps the most common is the hand-driven pump which can be found with attachments to work with everything from animal harnesses to windmills.
These pumps can be used anywhere and are easy to get running with little to no priming. It is important to put in the time now to determine what type of water table you are currently sitting on so you can decide if you need a shallow or a deep pump. A shallow pump is only good down to 40 feet or so.
If you are interested in pumping water from a pond or deep well through some sort of piping, then a ram pump is the right choice. A ram pump requires less effort than a hand pump but it does need to be primed to work properly which makes it less than ideal for colder climates.