Week 11: Water

14 Gallons of Water

After this week, you should have 28 gallons stored. This is the program goal. This is the final week we address Water.

The first water storage module was covered in the first week of this program. That module included the bulk of the information on water storage including the shelf life of water, how to store it, how to treat it including purification vs filtration and their associated methods, and 10 water storage myths. If you have any questions on any of this, please go back and take a look.

This week's water storage module covers extra storage tips including updated quantity recommendations as well as how to handle a 'Boil Order.'

In that first week, we set you up to meet the Red Cross and Civil Defense water minimum of 1 gallon per person per day for two weeks. The Red Cross and Civil Defense guideline of 1 gallon of water per person per day is considered a bare minimum survival amount for drinking and food preparation. But by their standards, a family of 5 would require a minimum of 70 gallons of water. In reality, an additional 2-3 gallons of water per person per day, give or take depending on the size of your family, will be required for personal hygiene, dishes, cleaning, flushing, etc. Our goal this week is to double the Red Cross recommendation so you will have 2 gallons per person per day for two weeks. Now that same family of 5 will have 140 gallons of stored water. So figure out how much water you and your family will need based on 2 gallons per person per day for two weeks (number of people in your family x 2 x 14), subtract how much you have already stored, and get working on storing the rest of your water. If you have pets, include water for them too.

As you can see, water storage takes some effort. And everyone, no matter who you are, needs water. So there is absolutely no reason not to complete this requirement. It is important to distinguish between potable water (water which is suitable for human consumption) and non-potable water. There are ways to 'capture' non-potable water, such as rain barrels. When it rains, there is a lot of water coming off of your roof via your gutters. A basic rain barrel or container correctly placed under an altered gutter will catch all of this water. Keep this in the back of your mind, and maybe include the option in your home manual as you will require much more non-potable water vs drinking water.

According to water specialists, water purifiers like Chlorine Dioxide will kill 99.9% of all microorganisms (like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses) in your water. Chlorine Dioxide is excellent for sheltering-in-place, and also great for treating water from your barrels or water you collect from streams or rivers while hiking. Bleach is also a decent purification method as long as it is fresh (less than a year old) and the unscented type. But water purifiers alone will not remove dirt, silt, gunk, and chemicals from your water. For this nastiness, you need a filter. Using a purifier and filter together are an ideal combination to make sure your water is clean enough for drinking. You can get all the details on filtering and purification in Week #1 Water module.

While we talked about storing water containers on concrete in week 1, it is still probably best practice to store them off of the concrete, such as on 2x4's or a repurposed pallet. The reason being, while cold cement is fine, you never know what chemicals or spills have previously been on the concrete, and since plastics absorb this stuff, it's best to play it safe.

Also, many people try to save space by stacking water barrels. Most water barrels are not designed to be stacked. A gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs. So your 55-gallon drum weighs roughly 500 lbs (including the weight of the barrel). Put that kind of weight on top of another barrel and it may or may not hold up very long. If space is limited, consider a stacking system designed to accommodate the weight of filled barrels.

One of my favorite tips:

If you have an extra freezer or extra freezer space, freeze some of your water containers. If the power ever goes out, you now have plenty of ice on hand to help keep your freezer, your refrigerator, or a portable cooler cold. Also, a full freezer retains cold better than an empty one. When you open the door, the mass of frozen items will help keep in the cold, and the unit won't have to work as hard to cool empty space. But, these frozen water containers will absorb a lot of the odors in your freezer, and over time, this ice, when melted, will taste nasty. But feel free to find this out for yourself.

How to deal with a mandatory "Boil Order"

In the past couple of years, several cities in the Salt Lake area, including my home city of Sandy, have seen numerous boil orders. Since each boil order situation is different, it is impossible to predict how long the boil order will remain in effect, but you can expect a minimum of 48 Hours, since it takes time to get test results back. It will not be lifted until tests show that the water is safe again. In the case of our boil order here in Sandy, it was chemical related and it took several days before the water was safe to drink.

If your water provider has issued a Boil Order, here are some things you need to know:

  • Boil tap water before drinking- Bring water to boil, keep it boiling for 60 seconds, and then allow it to cool before drinking.

  • Don’t let your pets drink tap water - Give them bottled water and be sure to clean and disinfect their water bowl.

  • Do not brush your teeth with tap water- Disinfect your toothbrush and then only use bottled water.

  • Do not drink water from your fridge water dispenser- Turn off the water feed to your fridge and discard your fridge filter.

  • Don’t use ice from your ice maker- Throw out ice in the ice bin and turn the ice-maker off.

  • Don’t wash your hands with tap water- Use bottled water or hand sanitizer

  • When you shower, don’t let water get into your eyes or mouth- Babies, older persons, and those with compromised immune systems should not bathe in the water.

  • Do not drink water from your water filter- Carbon filters, sediment filters, and even Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems are not suitable for removing bacteria. Crusader Ultrafilters that we sell are safe to continue using.

  • Use the disinfect or Sterilize cycle on your dishwasher- If you hand-wash, immerse the clean dishes in water with bleach added (1 tsp. per Gallon) and let them stay in the bleached water for at least 1 minute.

  • Use Hot/Hot cycles on your clothes washer- The hotter the better, and after each load, run an empty load (or a load of whites) with a cup of bleach to minimize contamination.

  • Turn off your central humidifier- Throw away humidifier evaporator pads and turn the water off to the humidifier.

  • Disinfect water for your portable humidifier- Add 4 Tsp. of Hydrogen peroxide per Gallon of water.

  • Bypass your water softener.

After the boil order has been lifted:

When the boil-order has been lifted, flush and disinfect the household plumbing. Then disinfect your clothes washer, dishwasher, water heater, humidifier, ice-maker, and any other appliances connected to your house plumbing. If you have a water softener, conditioner, salt-free system, or whole-house filter, disinfect it according to the manufacturer’s instructions or have a technician come out. If you have a drinking filter, throw away the filter, sanitize according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and install a new cartridge.

Page updated: 10/27/20