Water Storage at Home

(Notes for 2013:  Some links are broken now, and some of this is probably outdated but it’s preserved for future reference.  Notes and updates will be at the BOTTOM of this article.)

Water Storage at Home

by American Patriot


Water storage at home is rarely considered by “normal folks”, that is, those who do not think of keeping extra food supplies around “just in case”.  Five children, most of whom always seemed to be teen-age garbage disposals tends to necessitate keeping large quantities of food around, as in our case.   Now, we only have three living at home, but we have one coming to stay with us again for a few months, another one married with two babies. So once again, the extended family shows that keeping extra food around is probably a good thing.  Unexpected visits generally result in a rapid depletion of normally kept items, especially quickly “thrown together meals”.  For some reason, youngsters LOVE stuff like macaroni and cheese.  I don’t know why, since I personally hated the stuff when I was a kid.

How does this equate to storing water at home though?  In light of recent storms that have dropped killer tornadoes on peoples’ homes across the country, I would think that anyone with enough sense to make daily decisions would consider that “it can happen here”.  This means ANYWHERE.  Tornadoes occur all over the planet.  They do not confine themselves to tornado alley, or Oklahoma.   Although the most tornadoes or funnel clouds I’ve ever seen happened to have been in Oklahoma, Colorado gets its fair share as well.  We also get bad winters occasionally, where you maybe snowed in for a few days.  In the case of Colorado Springs, generally we do not lose power on a regular basis, but other parts of the State and country do.  With summer coming on, we have to worry more about lightning and the loss of power from a lightning strike.  It has gone out for hours at a time after a terrific storm or two.  Water can stop pumping at times like that.  Especially if a pumping area is affected.  It is a good thing to keep a bit of stored water around, in case of normal weather phenomenon affecting your area of the world.

So, storms, both summer and winter, can cause situations where water may be temporarily reduced in quantities.  It is therefore important to plan for such contingencies, and store small amounts of drinking or cooking water.  I’ve placed fifty gallon plastic water barrels in my home for just such a situation.  Because of the location of storage, in the basement, the water is kept cool and in the dark.   Once every six months, as dictated by the Red Cross and FEMA, we rotate the stock.   Generally, I simply empty the tanks, and refill with fresh water.  A simple garden hose water siphon is used to obtain water if necessary from the tanks.  Have we ever used them? Not yet.

In addition to these tanks, like most homes, we have a water heater.   Water heaters contain from 25-60 gallons of water, depending on the size of your home and hot water consumption.  If the power goes out, or if there is a sudden natural disaster, the first thing you should do is STOP bringing water into your home.   Floods, or earthquakes, or other destructive forces can cause water contamination.   Perhaps by breaking open chemical or other storage tanks nearby, or by dumping large quantities of contaminates into the water source (perhaps an open reservoir).   In this case, stopping incoming water at your water shut off valve prevents you from contaminating your water tank.  You now have up to 60 gallons of water that you can use in an emergency.

Every time my wife goes shopping at the grocery store (we use the military base commissaries most of the time) she generally buys a gallon or two of bottled drinking water.  We keep 10-12 gallons on the shelves for short term emergencies.  Water stores for a very long time if sealed properly.  In the case of purchased water, the gallon jugs are sterile, and sealed and will likely keep good water for several years.   I would suggest using it up every year at least, perhaps about six months – just to be on the safe side.

What about emergencies?  No large containers, and you KNOW the water will stop flowing shortly.  Easy.  Clean plastic garbage bags and pillow cases!   Take 3-4 plastic bags, one inside the other, and a large pillow case. Place the bags inside the pillow case, and fill it with water.  The cloth supports the plastic bags, which are 3-4 thick now (to prevent pin-holes in one bag from leaking out).   You can then fold the bags over and over to close off the open top of the bag, tying it shut with sting and you can now carry these bags off to a vehicle, or store them someplace until needed.  Placing two of them together, tied with rope or string, you can make a handy carrying bag set over your shoulders (one hanging in front, one hanging over your back).  In a hurry, this make-shift storage container will allow you to move or carry several gallons of water, rather quickly.  If nothing else, it will allow you to QUICKLY store water until you can move it to better containers.

Another emergency location for water is in the water tank on your toilets.   The water in the tank is clean, and comes from the water pipes coming into the house.  If you have multiple toilets in your house, you might have as much and 5-6 gallons of extra water, already stored.  Of course, this means not flushing the toilet!  But, in such an emergency situation, it might be best to keep the water and worry about the flush later!  Remember, this is an EMERGENCY (and you forgot to store water by some other method – I have to assume ANYONE reading this article is 1) Planning ahead, 2) already storing water and trying to ‘confirm they are doing it right’ or 3) is just curious how the rest of us “survivalists” live).

A few weeks ago, my wife asked me if we could get a hot tub.  I thought about it, and thought about how expensive it is, how much of a pain to maintain a hot tub would be, and the fact that my wife has wanted one since the day we were married almost 22 years ago.  Then I thought about how we could incorporate a hot tub into a water storage scheme.  After all, they hold on the order of 300-500 gallons of water.  Given the fact that I basically plan for short-term “disasters”, like blizzards, we generally keep about 100 gallons of water on hand.  I’ve expanded that a bit for Y2K contingencies, but only to about 150 gallons.  So, here is what we decided.

The purchase of a hot tub would mean that we get to enjoy it year-round, especially since I always seem to have lower back problems. The water in a hot tub is not fit for human consumption when used for human bodies.  It would be OK to use it to wash with, or perhaps even use to clean clothes or to use for toilet flushing, instead of using fresh water for that.  However, it is possible to use a cleaned and sterilized hot tub for temporary fresh water storage.  Y2K is a possible time when something like this might come in useful.  Considering the possibility that water, electricity and other utilities like natural gas might suddenly become unavailable, a water storage scheme including a hot tub would be a handy idea.  So, towards the end of December, 1999, I have plans to drain and sterilize the hot tub, refill it with fresh water and keep it ready for a couple of weeks – just in case.

That just added about 450 gallons of water to my storage, for a total of about 620 gallons of water.  That’s 100 in barrels, 50 in the water heater, and other 12-20 in the gallon jugs in the pantry and 450 in the hot tub.  If you figure the water usage per person in a home at 1 gallon of water, per person, per day that gives me enough water for one person, for over a year and a half.  Since I have five people at home that gives me: 620/5=124 days worth of water.  Enough to keep my family in food, water and spit-baths for four months.  Ok, we can now take care of ourselves if Y2K turns out to be a “bump in the road” like everyone seems to be saying.

If not, at least we now have placed ourselves in a position to be able to work at other methods of obtaining water.  That brings me to another point.  Rain water.   While I probably would have a hard time bringing myself to drink water falling fresh from the sky due to air pollution and so forth, I would not have any trouble doing so, if I made sure the water was boiled or distilled afterward.  Most likely though, the only contaminates in rain water would be microorganisms picked up from the air, or from bird waste.  Water falling on a roof and running to the gutters collects dust and debris, which is then fed down the water spout.  The water coming down the spout is not likely clean enough to drink without boiling.  However, after it settles for a bit, you can boil it and most likely it will not contain dangerous levels of chemicals that would kill you.  Some times, and in bad situations though, you have to weigh the choices.  Water with some chemicals picked up from the air might harm you over a great deal of time, while not drinking anything would kill you in a short period.   So, make your choice now, and determine your own level of comfort before you are forced to decide in a hurry!

Storing rain water isn’t as difficult as it might seem.  Except when you start storing it.  Now, I have not yet tested this, nor have I actually built any devices to store rain water, BUT, this summer is almost upon me, and one of my plans happens to be to build a water storage cistern.  Essentially, we will dig a holding area, and place covered water containers under ground.  This will allow each to spill into the next as they fill.  Thus, you have several water containers that you may use containing several gallons of water each.  At the very least, you have water to water a small garden this way.  In an absolute emergency, without any other water source, you can gather a few-days worth of water for one or two people, during rainy seasons.  Check with local hardware stores on items that can be used to store water in an underground environment for a few days at a time.  I would think that anything from clay storage tanks to plastic tanks of some sort would be ok to use.  Remember that you must have a way to remove the water.  Personally, I believe it best to build such a device with lids that can be removed easily and the water dipped out with a bucket or pitcher from below.  Be careful of dirt contamination though, and never drink rain water without first sterilizing it.  This can be done by boiling the water for several minutes, or using chemical sterilization techniques such as chlorine (common household bleach will work fine, if you use the right types).

From here, I suggest you go to the following links and read more about water purification and storage.  I also, STRONGLY recommend you look into ways to store the quantities of water your family will require for a minimum of three months.

survival.html – Third Millennium Survival links
foodwtr.html – FEMA/Red Cross Water Storage
http://www.pdm.com/waterstorage/index.html – Details on types of water storage (commercial site)
http://www.it2000.com/wwwboard/messages/803.html – Water storage information messages (Message board)
http://emprep.com/water_storage_barrels.html – Water storage containers (commercial site)
http://www.usplastic.com/y2kwatr1.htm – US Plastic water storage information (commercial site)
http://www.lis.ab.ca/walton/self/water.html – Another article on water storage by another author
http://www.jademountain.com/bkswater.html – Book lists on water storage, purification, etcetera

I’ve written this (and other articles) because I personally believe that there are some changes a-comin’ and we’ll all be affected to some degree.  If you have your own water, you won’t want to come and get mine and I won’t have to defend it.  Therefore, if we all plan and prepare for natural and man-made disasters ahead of time, we count less on our neighbors, the government and others around us.

We can, and will eventually force the this “big government” idea out of people’s heads by becoming more self-sufficient.  Today, so many of our friends, relatives and neighbors simply COUNT on government assistance when something goes wrong, they do not consider things like insurance, and self-sufficiency.  To me, this is a sad, sad state of affairs and is the beginning of the end of our way of life.  It is too bad that so many will not prepare and will be cause unawares, and then expect those of us who take the time to help ourselves, to support them.

I for one will NOT get “caught unawares”, and think if you like I’m a “Y2K kook” or “conspiracy theorist” or any other negative-sounding title you can come up with.  But don’t coming crying to me if your baby doesn’t have milk, or your kids are hungry, or you can’t keep them from getting cold when the power goes out.  I will have little sympathy when that day comes and you didn’t take the time to care beforehand. So… read up on it now, prepare and be ready for whatever comes your way!

September 2013 Notes:

The above article was written back in 1999 as were several others I wrote prior to Y2K.  Since those days my children have all grown up, moved out, had children of their own.  Each of them left but took with them some skills I taught them while they were children.  We took them camping and taught them to find water, start fires, build shelters and how to find food.  Basic, but necessary skills of every family since the dawn of time.

Today we live in a world where if the electricity goes off for more than a few days, panic ensues.

Of course Y2K came and went; the troubles were mitigated by system administrators in most companies and computers were upgraded, bios’ were upgraded and there have been several iterations of computers and even the Internet since then.  We likely won’t run into anything remotely close to Y2K any time in the foreseeable future.

However in recent days we’ve watched as a classic Cold War Escalation Scenario has brewed between Russia and the United States over Syria.  The day could still come when such an escalation boils over into a nuclear war, limited or not, it will put millions of us in a bad way without electricity, gasoline, moving food, water supplies and being able to even communicate with one another.

As you can see, even given the distant history of the above article, it is still relevant today.

In my case, my home is for sale, but we still have it, the hot tub, storage tanks and so forth.  You should too.  We are selling and moving to someplace “safer”, where I won’t be bothered by “big government”, I can fish and live to my hearts content and come and go as I please, when I feel like it, not when I’m told.  In the mean time, I still have my beans, bullets and bandages – along with other survival supplies, the ability to think on my feet and fight–or run when I must.

You should learn.  You should teach your family.  Do it now.  Do it quickly.

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