Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Do you keep emergency water on hand?

This is something we've not really done much of in the past. Maybe a couple of small bottles, here and there, but no real emergency-level amounts. We don't have tornados. We don't use a pump on a well. We're not in a rural area.

But we are in an earthquake zone. And I've always had this nagging feeling like I should be more prepared. So this spring, I've begun putting away some emergency water.

Whenever we empty a 2-liter or 64 oz bottle of soda or apple juice, I fill it with filtered water from the fridge. I then label and date the bottle and put it in the garage fridge. Of course, at our family's rate of consuming soda or bottled apple juice, this could take some time. But it's a start.

By dating the bottles, my plan is to pour out old water in 6 months and refill. (The discarded water can water plants or add to the laundry. It won't be wasted.)

I know. It's a plastic bottle not intended for reuse. But this is emergency water we're talking about. Enough water to get through a couple of days, not our usual supply of drinking water.

If a devastating earthquake does happen, at least we've been doing something to prepare for surviving in the aftermath.

edited: here's a site with information on emergency water storage: (link here).
According to this site, I probably should just use the tap water, and not the filtered tap water (our tap water is chlorinated). But, my tap water should keep for one year. There's good info at this site, in regards to how much bleach to add for water storage, whether or not you need to add bleach, and containers.

18 comments:

  1. We keep a little bit but a disaster will always happen when you least expect it and when you're not prepared. We moved to the city but still have well water. We "thought" that being in the city power outages would be corrected quickly and being close to stores and family we wouldn't need storage of water, etc. So the early morning of Christmas Eve we lost power due to a storm and spent the entire day without water, no heat, but we do have a gas stove. We could eat but we got colder and colder. We left (the roads were getting cleared) and hoped later we would come home to power. NOPE. We called the power company but got nowhere. We crawl into bed more than 24 hours later and wake up on Chrismas morning and still no power. I was going to host dinner at my house but ran everything over to my parents' home instead. Five minutes after I leave the power comes back on. So we still hosted Christmas but it didn't really matter too much whether or not we stored water because we couldn't do anything without electric. We did have a few bottles of drinking water on the shelf but I'm pretty sure power can be restored in 24 hours. We wouldn't be showering or shampooing or cooking gourmet meals during an outage and we don't really have any other "disasters" other than that. We can cook and we have food...

    I always use discarded juice containers for water. Those lids seems to not leak like a water bottle does. Gatorade bottles are good too.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      I remember you telling us of your Christmas. That was an ordeal.

      Several years ago, there was a terrible winter storm here, knocking out power for a long stretch. Ours came back on within the day, but we have friends who were without power for 5 days, and they do live within city limits. So, although rare for us, a winter storm could knock out power for a long stretch. We have 1 wood-burning fireplace, for heat.

      We do always have plenty of food, on hand. We could get by if access to stores was blocked. But the water thing was bugging me.

      Have a great day, Alice!

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  2. Would it help to add a few drops of bleach to the stored water, or add a few drops of bleach (per recommended instructions) before drinking the water, or both? We always keep bleach on hand in case of emergencies, but I have been lazy about keeping water. We live in an "extreme tsunami" zone, although hurricane is a more likely threat.

    Have a good day!!

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      I've thought about that, with bleach. I'd prefer not to. I think if I rotate the supply every 6 months, and store in the fridge, I could avoid adding bleach.

      I just looked up whether or not bleach needs to be added. If the water is from a chlorinated supply (most municipal water) then it doesn't need to be pre-treated. It does need to be replaced every year, though, and probably should just be straight tap water (ours is chlorinated).
      here's the site:
      https://jvwcd.org/water/emergency
      (and I updated my post adding this link, for anyone reading).

      I've also read that you can use your water heater for water, in an emergency, by turning off your water supply coming into your water heater, immediately after a disaster strikes, before using water heater water (to prevent contamination of the water in your heater). (Turn off the power switch to the water heater, too, to prevent it from becoming damaged, when power restored, after emptying the water.)

      Interesting topic. Have a great day, YHF!

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    2. GREAT tip about unplugging the power. We burned out two electric water heater elements when we emptied the tank and forgot to turn it off, too. Not an expensive fix, but a hassle.
      Sara

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  3. I should just add, for anyone reading, if you're not sure if your municipal water supply is chlorinated or not, you can call your water provider and ask, or check their website.

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  4. Thanks for the link...I'm going to bookmark it and make some plans for our household. I am surprised that tap water can last up to one year without further treatment, and if I'm reading correctly, use tap not filtered water? Is it because of bacterial contaminants that may be present in the filter?

    YHF

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    1. YHF, that was my supposition, that the filter itself could harbor some bacteria or mold, that could then proliferate in another container. And also, the presence of chlorine in the regular tap water would inhibit microbial growth in the repurposed container. But regular tap water is only considered safe for drinking after a year, if your source of water chlorinates the supply. You can call your water provider or check their website.

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    2. That too...yes the filter would take out chlorine as well.

      Thanks EcoCatLady, we have been throwing away (recycling) our wine bottles (lol agree the cheap wines with screw top lids). Our neighborhood grocer keeps us in good supply of those wines...read that it may not be good for our health because of the higher arsenic content in cheaper wines...have you heard about this? But it is so hard to forgo a $1.99 750ml bargain.

      YHF

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  5. I do keep emergency water on hand. It's come in handy a few times during plumbing disasters when I had to have the water shut off for a few days. You probably don't drink wine, but I buy the cheap stuff that comes with screw top lids, so I just clean out the bottles and use them for my storage. I use unfiltered water and change it out once a year. I'll go check out that link to make sure I'm doing everything right!

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    1. Hi Cat,
      great use for wine bottles! If your water supply is already chlorinated, then it's probably good.

      We did have our water shut off when some plumbing work was done, a few years ago. But we had advance warning, so I just filled several stock-pots and a couple of pitchers with water. With an unplanned plumbing issue, though, your stored water was very appreciated, I assume.

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  6. I do keep water on hand both 16 oz bottles in cases and gallons. Besides power outages from ice storms and wind storms we have had occasional water main breaks or other water supply contamination. The stores ran out of water! We were good though. :-)

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    1. Hi KCMama,
      Yes, that's the thing, if there's an area-wide problem with water (like a main that's broken), the whole area will be looking for bottled water in the stores, not just me. So, keeping our own water supply, just for emergencies, means we don't have to go out hoping to find water on the store shelves, and we can leave that water for someone who didn't keep some on hand. I didn't think about water contamination, but that shows up in the news from time to time.

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  7. I have large blue water containers that we use seasonally in the summer as a water source when we are away on weekends. I purchased extra at a sale and they can be rotated like you do every 6 months in the basement when we are not away. They each are about 12liters, I'll have to check. We have about 10'of them.
    We have a wood fireplace but it gets very cold here and quickly it would be an inefficient heat source.
    A few Christmas's back our power went out because of a malfunctioning meter that had been put I that week. We are fortunate it did not burn our home down.
    Hosted our annual Christmas Eve get together for about 20. Used our gas cook top and Natural gas BBQ. The house was decorated with candles, took people awhile to realize there were no electric lights on in the house or Christmas Tree.
    Power was out for about 15 hours, we had an emergency repair team working on it. We invited them to share in our celebration. We were fortunate the weather was unseasonably warm that year at Christmas.

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    1. Hi Teresa,
      It sounds like you made the most of a bad situation. And yes, you were so fortunate that there was no fire from the faulty meter. Oh wow. That's scary to think. We had a small electrical fire many years ago, on the outside of the house, where the electricity comes into the garage. I could smell something strange. The family thought I was imagining it. But sure enough, the siding had been burned. This was caused by settling of the house over the years, pulling on the incoming electrical cable.

      Anyways, good that you have such a solid supply of water on hand.

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  8. Great reminder :) I also store water in the trunk of the car. Yes I know it is not good for you in plastic bottles.
    This is emergency water and only used for that. We have a small amount of storage in the condo. So I use the trunk of the car also have blankets and canned food in the trunk. I live in southern cali so we wont freeze. I have like 10 gallons in the house and a swimming pool out my front door from the condo and yes I would use pool water to flush toilets but not for much else, Children swim in
    it.Have a great day ladies great topic.
    Patti

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    1. Hi Patti,
      that's what I'm thinking about the plastic bottles for water -- not ideal, but it's "emergency" water, not daily drinking water.

      Interesting what you store in your trunk. Every once in a while Dollar Tree has those vacuum bags for storing sheets, pillows, quilts. I'm sure the quality isn't fabulous, being they cost just $1, but they'd be good for storing bedding in an outdoor storage area (or trunk of car). They're airtight, so no moisture could seep in and cause mildew. The name brand is Ziploc Space Bag, but I was happy to see a knock off at Dollar Tree a while back.

      I'd use the pool water, too, if that's what I had (for flushing, nothing else).

      Have a great day, Patti!

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  9. Hi Lili,
    Great idea about the large bags from Dollar tree. I will check that out. I am so tempted when I go in dollar tree :).
    I leave ATM and cards at home. I take just the cash I plan on spending. I do not know why this store is so tempting for me? I also have a little change in the console of the car in case they have something amazing.
    Like 1 or 2 dollars. I have been trying to stick to my list when I go in. Did you know they take coupons? Sometimes you can get free things. Now I like that price.
    Hope your day was blessed.
    Patti

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