The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Drink Out of the Toilet

The single most important item in your disaster supply kit is water. The human body can generally survive for 30 days without food, granted those 30 days would suck big time. However, a body can only survive without water for about 3 days. I've heard people say that they don't need to store a bunch of water because they can drink out of their water heater or the tank of their toilet. In theory, yes, you can do this. In reality, do you really want to? Have you looked in your toilet tank? Do you know what kind of gnarly floaties live in your water heater? Do you really hate yourself and your family that much that you feel they need to drink out of the toilet? Maybe you do, and that's okay (I guess), I'm not here to judge. But--if you value yourself and your family, you'll set aside a few bucks to buy yourself some decent emergency water. Here are a few tips:

Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day in a cool, dark place. The average individual must drink at least two quarts of water every day. Children, nursing mothers, the elderly and people in warmer climates need more. Additional water should be reserved for personal hygiene and food preparation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security encourages individuals to store enough water to last a minimum of three days - bearing in mind that water is needed for drinking as well as for personal hygiene.

Choose appropriate containers for water storage; disinfect before use. Personally, I wouldn't store water in any plastic containers that have ever stored juice, milk or soda (or antifreeze or lighter fluid). Seriously, there is nothing that will remove the taste of what has previously been in there. Also, milk jugs are very, very low quality plastic. Not only will they leach chemicals into your water, after about 3 months they'll start to seep and leak and eventually crumble altogether. Honestly, it's much less hassle to just buy water already sealed in a gallon size or more. Make sure to check the label and rotate it as needed. There's no need to waste it once it's beyond its date. Just use it to water flowers or to clean something. The reason that there is a "use by" date is not because the water itself expires, it's that after a year or so the plastic begins breaking down. Those chemicals that are leaching into the water are NOT GOOD FOR YOU. Trust me. Rotate it.

Another good option is to buy three or five-gallon polycarbonate bottles (#7) and fill them with tap water. The #7 in the triangle on the bottom of the bottle means that it is a much higher quality plastic and will last longer without leaching. You can fill up these bad boys and not worry about rotating them for 5 years. Most municipal water is already treated with a variety of chlorine and fluoride, so there isn't a need add additional bleach. If you get your water from a well, you might consider adding a few drops of unscented bleach. The standard formula is about 10 drops per gallon of water. (Drops, like from an eye dropper, not 10 pours). Then seal the container and put a piece of tape on it with the date so you know when to rotate it. Also, you don't need to throw out the bottle after 5 years, just replace the water so it's fresh. The bottles are good for about 20 years

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