Friday, December 21, 2007

Water Storage

This one is pretty basic and it gets touched on a lot. It's important enough that it deserves a dedicated post, though. Being able to turn on the faucet and get thousands of gallons of fresh, clean water with no effort and for very little cost has spoiled us. What do you do it if stops flowing or your normal supply gets contaminated? If you don't have water then you'll die fast. There are several options. You can get a filter or a purification system but in that case you need access to water to filter. You can build a rain catchment system but you need it to rain on a regular basis for that to work. That leaves storage. It's the easiest system to have in place before a crisis hits. It can be done extremely inexpensively. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need about 1 gallon per day per person. That is a very small amount and it will take a lot of discipline to go from living off of city water to living off of what you have stored in your garage.

There are several different options for water storage. The first is to think about all of the containers in your home that already store water. The tanks in your toilets have fresh, relatively clean water in them. Your hot water heater has a lot of water in it. Your pipes might even have some water in them if a disaster hits fast. If you have some forewarning you can fill up any buckets, bathtubs, sinks and other containers at the first opportunity. A very good option is a water BOB (search google for "water bob"). It's a large plastic water bladder that fits in your bathtub that you can fill instead of filling the water directly into your tub. That's a lot of standing water to keep fresh for any period of time. Bathtub floors aren't the cleanest surfaces, either. If you don't have a water bob then just make sure that you add some bleach to your bathtub after you fill it up. A drop per gallon is the typical ratio.

Now that you know what you can do if you find out that a disaster is about to hit lets talk about what you can do now while the disaster is still hypothetical. Plastic bottles make great water containers. Any time I finish a 2l bottle of soda I wash it out, fill it up with water and add it to my stock. I do the same with bottles of vegetable oil, juice, etc. Basically anything that's a clear plastic that had something in it that you either drank or ate should be safe to fill up with water. Just make sure that you add a dab of bleach to it. Glass is great, too, but you don't see that used very often anymore unless you drink a lot of hard liquor.

Another option is to use water storage containers. You can pick these up at most sporting goods stores or Wal-Mart for less than $10. They generally range from 5-7 gallons. They usually come with a spigot attachment. Some sporting goods stores sell slightly larger ones in the 15 gallon range. You can also get online and order 5 gallon water cans from several online merchants for a reasonable price. Check Sportsmansguide often.

The problem with that type of storage is that it's not efficient. 10 5 gallon jugs takes up a lot of space. If you want to get bigger I'd start by looking at 55 gallon food grade plastic drums. If you have a soda bottling plant nearby you can usually pick these up for about $15 each. You might have to clean them out and since they contained soda syrup before you got your hands on them you might be stuck with water that never quite loses that faint Dr Pepper flavor. Either install a spigot or get a siphon. I'm planning on getting a simple siphon in the near future. I'll let you all know how it works out. If you're going to store water in 55 gallon drums make sure and put a wood pallet under it. I've heard of leakage problems. It's probably got something to do with 55 gallons of water pushing down on plastic that's up against something as hard as concrete over a long period of time. I don't imagine that the plastic would hold up forever.

Now that we've got the cheap solutions out of the way let's start thinking about where you can spend some money. Unless I lived in the boonies I wouldn't consider a tank bigger than what I could fit in my garage, a shed or my basement. You'd be very surprised how much water you can fit in a relatively small container, though. The biggest problem that I see with a large water container in the city is that if you actually have to utilize it then it's probably time to get the hell out of dodge in the first place. A quick google search revealed a couple of options for 300 gallon water tanks. Bigger than that and you're getting into the "hey look at that big fucking tank in that guy's back yard. Let's go check it out" territory.

There are plenty of solutions to ensure that you have fresh, clean water through a disaster. Water storage probably won't get you very far (maybe a few weeks unless you're really hardcore) but a few weeks is usually all that you'll need. For the urban survivalist you'll want to consider more portable options in the event of a catastrophe. If something lasts for a few weeks or more then even living out of a tent in a national forest somewhere will start to look good.


theotherryan said...

Water storage is definintely one of the less "sexy" parts of survival. However it is essential because we need it to live. For an urban dweller keeping atleast enough water to live through a week or so is solid advice. If you have water then it is not necessary to go out in search of it which leads to encounters that could be violent. However if you need much beyond that in an urban area it is probably advisable to leave.

fallout11 said...

Storage water can buy you precious time to make alternative longer term arrangements as well, such as setting up your existing gutter/downspout system for rainwater catchment. Use the stored water when it is dry, then replenish it with rainwater when it rains.
Remember to use unscented bleach.

Anonymous said...

real water storage information is hard to come by