Many people think of food first when it comes to family preparedness planning, but water, not food, should be the top priority. After the air we breathe, water is absolutely essential to sustaining life. We can last for two to four weeks without food, but can only survive a few days without water.
Whether you are planning for short-term emergency situations like a storm that knocks out power for a week or less, or for longer storage, having enough water should be the first thing to tackle in any preparedness plan. There are 3 important considerations in accumulating and storing an adequate water supply for you and your family:
- Store a maintenance or subsistence level supply of water.
- Be able to locate emergency water sources.
- Learn how to properly treat contaminated water so it is safe to drink.
The basic requirement for each person in your household is a minimum of 2 quarts of water per day for drinking. In addition to drinking water, you will need water for cooking food, brushing teeth, or washing hands. The total amount of water needed for each person is a minimum of one gallon of water for each member of the household per day for a two-week period. That amount could be even more depending on the temperatures or special needs of individuals in the household.
Emergency sources of water can be found in and around most homes and can be used as a back-up source if there is no regular water supply available. These include:
- Well water or natural springs
- Brooks, streams, ponds, lakes, rivers
- Water hoses, spas, hot tubs, or swimming pools
- Accumulated rainwater or snow in the winter
If there is any doubt about the safety or purity of an emergency water source, it should always be treated first before consumption. Even a clear running stream can contain harmful bacteria or parasites and should be treated first. Water can be treated by several methods to make it potable:
- Heat water to a rolling boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes to kill any harmful organisms.
- Add 4-8 drops of bleach per half-gallon of water, mix thoroughly, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use only common household bleach containing sodium hypochlorite (5.25% solution) as the active ingredient without any soap additives or phosphates.
- Use a tincture of iodine (2%) to treat small amounts of water and use a ratio of 3 to 6 drops per 1 quart.
Water is the most basic survival necessity and should be the highest priority in a preparedness program. Start today to store an adequate water supply to sustain your family for either long-term home storage or an emergency situation.