Water Storage To The Rescue!

So, the last two months have been a fun challenge in our home. It seemed to me like the planets must have aligned themselves and targeted their craziness directly at our home. We have had a series of circumstances occur over the period of a few weeks that would generally spread themselves out over a few years (or months at least!). From a leaking pipe in our ceiling, to the A/C needing repairs (not once, not twice, but three times), car issues (with both of our cars), to a leak in one of our water pipes in the yard… add to that some personal/family health situations and this crazy drought threatening the foundation of our home, and you’re looking at a perfect storm for insanity. Talk about a strain on already tight finances and a test on the strength of a family bond.

I’m happy to say we were able to come through it all with only minor aches and pains and we still have a smile on our faces. πŸ˜€ BUT I wanted to share with y’all some of the reasons we were able to get through this Bermuda Triangle with our sanity intact.

Two of the key components to our sanity survival were our food storage supply and our financial savings supply. Without boring you with a lot details, I’ll just say that Hubby and I were fortunate enough to both come into our marriage with a strong belief of living within our means and preparing for a rainy day. And from that, a strong food supply was built up in times of surplus and a healthy savings has always been maintained. So despite the fact that in a regular month without catastrophes our income is just enough to meet our needs, and now in the face of some crazy circumstances to come our way (each of which required a fair amount of money to repair) we were able to use the majority of our grocery money to pay for some of these expenses and still eat really well from just our food supply (supplemented to a small degree with some fresh items from the store), and what our income couldn’t cover, we were at peace knowing there was money set aside for circumstances just such as this. So there’s my plug for getting your food storage and savings!

But the other component that saved my sanity was something really minor, but that I found myself truly grateful for. It was our water supply. After all the events that had happened, the leaking water pipe out in our front yard was the last to occur, and I had about had it with all the ‘things that could go wrong’. We found ourselves without water for a period of 24 hours. No big deal, right? I can go without a shower for 24 hours, and we also have some amazing neighbors who opened their home to us for anything we needed during that time (we love our neighbors!), but it’s always easier to manage a hard time in the comfort of your own home. That being said, no water in the home definitely takes out a bit of the ‘comfort’ factor. πŸ™‚ Enter our water supply.

You may remember back when we talked about storing water and I mentioned a storage container I had come across and purchased called the Aquatainer. It’s a 7-gallon container that has a water spigot stored on the inside of the cap, so when you need your water, you simply take the spigot out and turn it around and then you’ve got your own little water dispenser. Well, we’ve got about 6 or 7 of these containers and when our water was turned off, we finally had a perfect excuse to put them to use. We placed one at our kitchen sink and one at each bathroom sink as well. This way, whenever we needed to wash hands, or rinse off a dish, water was still right where we expected it to be… with the convenience of turning it off and on like a regular faucet and everything. Like I said, it’s a small thing, but the small amount of ‘normalcy’ it brought to our minorly uncomfortable situation reminded me that in a major crisis, normalcy plays a HUGE factor in how well we manage that crisis. Just the fact of being able to turn water on and off at a sink, helped me to feel like the situation was not bad at all. Yes, we still had to lug pitchers of water into the house (again, thanks to our wonderful neighbors letting us use their water hoses) any time we needed to flush a toilet, and yes, life was still a little inconvenienced. But really, I was grateful for the small things that helped to keep us sane and see us through. {Other small tips: We also kept hand sanitizer and baby wipes by each water dispenser to help conserve the water. And we could have set up a portable potty, but knowing this was only a short term problem, I definitely preferred NOT to do that. :)}

I won’t lie and say the past two months haven’t been stressful, because let’s face it… when it feels like the forces of evil have combined against you, it can be a little stressful. πŸ™‚ But because we had taken the time and made the effort to prepare in advance, it has definitely been manageable. And we probably came out of it all a little stronger as well. πŸ™‚

SO! Who wants to get prepared?!?! (I do. I do!) πŸ™‚ Well get to it!
{Oh, and on a side note about those water containers… when I bought them, I got them at Walmart for around $7, but later when I looked online they were like $18 or something (?!?!?!). (Same story at other places that carried them online. ) Well anyway, I was at Walmart again just the other day and happened to be in the camping section and saw the containers there again, and they were at the $7 price again. I don’t know if that price is only in the stores or maybe an off-season price or something (??) but may I suggest that you check into those containers. They really are super handy, so if you can find them at a good price I highly recommend them. Like I said, we had one at each sink, which was really nice, so I’d recommend getting at least enough to cover those bases. Hubby also likes to take them on scouting campouts because, again, they’re very convenient.}

Anyway, good luck in all your preparedness efforts!! Loves!

Feature Friday: Create A Solar Still

*Don’t forget about this weeks’ GIVEAWAY! You have until TONIGHT at midnight (CST) to enter to win! The winner will be announced on Monday!*

Howdy y’all! Today we’re going to learn how to purify your water using the sun! Not only is this good information to know for an emergency situation, but it’s also good fun you can have with the kiddos any sunny day of the week. Science project, here we come! πŸ™‚

A solar still will purify your water, removing any metals, salt, chemicals, impurities, etc., all without the use of any electricity. The only source of fuel it uses is the sun! And since it removes salt, this even works with salt water from the ocean!

What You Need:

  • a wide plastic basin (like a big ice cream bucket)
  • a smaller jar or glass for collecting the clean water
  • a large piece of transparent plastic (plastic wrap can work)
  • a large rubber band or some string to hold the plastic in place
  • a stone
  • water
  • salt (only if doing this for experimental purposes)

What You Do:

  1. Put your dirty/salty water in the bottom of your basin (if doing this for an experiment, add your salt to your water and mix it up). Make sure the water is below the height of your collecting jar.
  2. Place your collecting jar in the middle of your basin.
  3. Cover the basin with the plastic wrap. Make sure that it is secured tightly at the edges. Use your rubber band or string to seal off the edges.
  4. Place a stone on top of the plastic wrap, directly above your collecting jar. (Make sure the stone doesn’t weigh the plastic down far enough to where it touches your collecting jar.)
  5. Carefully move your solar still into direct sunlight.
  6. Watch as the water begins to condense on the plastic and then drip down toward the stone and into the collecting jar. (This will take a few hours to occur.)
  7. Any water in the collecting jar is now purified water. Drink and enjoy!

Note: If you are doing this in an actual emergency situation as a source for your clean water, make several/many of these and have water continually purifying throughout the day.

Source: www.Education.com

Water: Purifying Processes

It is oh-so-important to make sure that the water you are drinking is clean and safe. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis. Any water in which you are uncertain as to its purity should be purified before use in drinking, food preparation, or hygiene.

We will discuss three different ways to purify your water, but just know that no method is 100% perfect. Sometimes the best option is to do a combination of different methods. Some methods will kill microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. To help with that, let your water sit for a while prior to purifying and allow any suspended particles settle to the bottom. Then slowly pour your water through some sort of filter (i.e. layers of paper towel, coffee filter, or a clean cloth) and into a clean container. Stop pouring before the settled contents have a chance to pour out with the water (you’ll likely lose a little bit of water this way, but it’s better that your water be clean). Now that we have some strained water, let’s purify it.

Method #1: Boiling

Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring your water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. (Using a kettle can help reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation.) Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.

Method #2: Disinfection

This method was discussed when we talked about how to treat our water prior to storing it. It uses household bleach to kill any microorganisms in the water. Remember to use regular household bleach that contains between 4-6% hypochlorite, and do not use scented, color-safe, or bleaches with added cleaners. In this situation where the purity of our water is unknown, we are going to add 16 drops of chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of water. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let the water stand for another 15 minutes.
Again, to help improve the taste of the water prior to drinking, pour the water back and forth between two clean containers.

Method #3: Distillation

Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities that the first two methods can leave behind. To distill, use a clean pot with a lid that has a knob-type handle in the center. Fill the pot halfway with water. Turn the pot’s lid upside-down and tie a cup under the handle, so that the cup will hang right-side-up (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes (or however long it takes to turn all the water to vapor). The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
The downside to this method is that it takes a lot of energy (in terms of heat) and doesn’t produce a whole lot of useable water. So if your fuel/energy supply is low, you would want to use this method very sparingly and only if necessary. You could also try using a very large pot to increase the amount of water you get, but that would also take longer to boil and distill the water (thereby using more fuel/energy). So just use good judgement when determining which purifying method will be best for your situation.

Next Friday we’re going to learn how to create a solar still to distill our water… so stay tuned!
Until then… happy and safe drinking to y’all! πŸ™‚

Photo courtesy of Samantha Sargent

Water: Where and How Long to Store

Here are some quick pointers to remember for where and how long to store your water:

  • Store water containers in a cool, dry place (if possible) and away from direct sunlight.
  • Store them away from gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, chemicals, or similar substances because the hydrocarbon vapors (from the chemicals) can penetrate the polyethylene plastics (aka our water containers).
  • Do not store containers directly on the concrete (put a layer of cardboard down first or a blanket or some other insulating measure) as the concrete can also leech chemicals through the plastic and into the water.
  • It’s also a good idea to store some water in your car and at work, or any other place you spend a considerable amount of time and could be stuck without access to water in an emergency.
  • You can also store water for an extended period of time in the freezer. Then, if you lose electricity, the frozen water will help keep foods in the freezer frozen (or at least chilled) until power can be restored. (Remember to leave 2 to 3 inches of head space in a container before you freeze it.)
  • When storing water on a shelf, remember that one gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. Be sure that any shelves or storing surfaces are strong enough to support the weight of the water.
  • For the best quality, rotate through your stored water every 6 months to 1 year. You can also improve the taste of stored water by pouring it from one clean container to another several times, to put air back into it.

Photo courtesy of Justyna Furmanczyk

Water: Preparing/Treating Water For Storage

Properly storing your water is just as important as storing water in the first place. Case in point, before Hurricane Ike hit, hubby and I felt good and prepared with our water storage. Over the past several years, we had saved our sturdy juice jugs, etc and filled them up with tap water and stored them out in the garage. Hurricane Ike came and went and we were fortunate enough to be in an area that did not have polluted city water, so we were always able to maintain good, safe water. However, a few days after the storm, we decided to check on our water, just to see how it was. Hubby went and opened a jug and suddenly doubled over and nearly lost his lunch! The stench was overwhelming! Needless to say, we had apparently not stored our water properly and were incredibly lucky we didn’t have to rely on our water supply to get us by! We have since learned a thing or two about properly storing water. So here we go…

Water Storage Containers

First things first. You need a clean/sanitized container to store your water in. And not just any container… you need a food grade plastic or glass container with a tight fitting/screw-on cap. To know if your container is food grade, check the bottom for the letters ‘HDPE’ and the number ‘2’ in the recycle symbol. You can use bottles that have previously had drinks in them, however plastic milk or juice bottles should be avoided because it is difficult to adequately remove the protein, sugar, and fat residues, which may allow bacteria to grow during storage. (I believe this was our problem.) You can also buy new plastic containers for water storage in most housewares, outdoors, or sporting goods departments. (After our water fiasco, I’ve decided to just buy new instead of trying to clean out old containers. :)) If buying new, it’s also a good idea to look for containers that are BPA free. For me, personally, I purchase containers very similar to the one shown above. I like it because it’s big enough to store a good amount of water (mine are 7 gallons), small enough to be transportable (as opposed to 55-gallon barrels, which we also have two of), it wasn’t incredibly expensive (I believe it was a little under $7 {update: I believe these have gotten a whole lot more expensive since I originally posted this… but they’re still really convenient if you want to fork out the dough}), and it comes with a spigot on it so that you can easily access your water when needed (the spigot is stored on the inside of the cap so it doesn’t get dusty/dirty while in storage).
Stainless steel containers may be used to store water that has not been or will not be treated with chlorine (as chlorine is corrosive to most metals).
And I assume this would go without saying, but never use a container that has held toxic substances for storing your water. Tiny amounts of the toxins may remain in the container’s pores and can leach into your water. Other containers to avoid are chlorine bleach bottles (even though they may be food grade), as well as containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.

Cleaning Your Containers
If you choose to use a container that has been previously used, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize it prior to storage. Clean your containers and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse them with water and then sanitize the containers and lids by rinsing them with a solution of 1 Tbsp chlorine bleach* per gallon of water. Leave the containers wet for two minutes, then rinse them again with water.
Also remember to carefully clean any hard to reach areas to remove all residue from containers where bacteria may hide. This includes removing the plastic or paper lid liners in the lids to clean under those (a common mistake which would result in bacterial growth) along with the handle areas (if there’s a hollow handle) of containers like milk or juice jugs (if you insist on using them).
To sanitize stainless steel containers, place Β the container in boiling water (submerged) for 10 minutes.

Preparing/Treating Water To Store

The next step in storing water, is to get your water. πŸ™‚ Be sure your water is drinking-quality water to begin with. All public water supplies (at least in the U.S.) are already treated and should be free of harmful bacteria. However, for precaution, it is recommended to add chlorine bleach* to protect against any microorganisms that may still be lingering in your containers. Use the following chart as a guideline for how to treat your water (you can click on the image and right-click to save to your computer for easy referencing):

treating water for storage

*Only use the regular, unscented chlorine bleach for cleaning/sanitizing purposes with your water. Do not use bleach that has soaps or scents added.

Also note: If you are on a private water supply (i.e. individual wells and springs), it is recommended that you purchase bottled water for storing as these private water supplies are not tested and can have bacteria that would cause problems during a storage period.

Alright! Well, that about covers that. πŸ™‚ Next week we’ll talk about where to store your water and for how long. So stay tuned!

Water: How Much To Store

Let’s talk water. Water is one of the key elements to survival, but can often be overlooked in our food storage efforts. Well let’s not overlook it! I’ll dedicate the next few weeks (well, Tuesdays anyway) to giving you all sorts of information about water storage.

But let’s start basic. The first thing to know is how much we should be storing.

The general rule is to store 1 gallon per person per day. That sounds like a lot because I know I don’t drink one gallon of water in a day. But this amount covers drinking as well as other needs such as washing, cooking, brushing your teeth, etc.Β It is recommended that you have enough to last for at least 72 hours, and ideally enough to last for 2 weeks, or a month if at all possible.

So, 1 gallon x my family of 4 x 14 days (2 weeks) = 56 gallons.
And 1 gallon x my family of 4 x 31 days (1 month) = 124 gallons.

So I know what I’m aiming for. But honestly, I suggest even more than that. This amount of water does not cover things like showering, and flushing a toilet. And I guarantee ya’ll that if we were without water for two weeks or a month, I’m gonna want to shower and flush the stinkin’ toilet! πŸ˜€ So for me, personally, I store at least 2 weeks worth of purified drinking water (but I’ll keep working toward a month), and in addition to that, I store as much treated tap water as my space will allow. We’ll go into treating water and what not later, but the point is… don’t aim for the short end when it comes to water. Water is more important and life sustaining than food!

Other important points to consider:

  • Children, nursing mothers, and people who are sick need more water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed (so take into account where you live).
  • To reduce the amount of water needed, limit your amount of physical activity. By the same token, if you are physically active, you need to boost your water intake.
  • If you have pets, you should generally store about 1 quart of water per day per small pet.

So plan for you and your family’s needs accordingly and then be at peace knowing you’re prepared.

Photo c/o Jan Mocnak