October 22, 2014

Potable Water Preparedness

Potable Water Preparedness

Having fresh drinking water is something I think most people take for granted. But if the faucets quit running, or the water coming out of them is unsafe, we would quickly find ourselves in trouble! The rule of threes tells us that the average human can go three days without water. But that doesn’t say how bad you’ll be feeling after just one day without water. It doesn’t say that if the temps are hotter you could very well have less than three days to live without water.

The rule of threes also doesn’t say how people will act when they realize they can’t depend on the tap to give them safe drinking water. Over the last few years I have read of multiple water main breaks, or accidental spills that polluted various cities’ water supplies. In many of these cases I have read of fist fights breaking out; people fighting over a case of water bottles. As I’ll point out below, when it comes to water, there is no silver bullet that will take care of all of your water needs.
 

Water Filters and Purifiers

I firmly believe everyone should own a water purifier as a part of their preps. However, this is not a silver bullet that will fix all of your water problems. You may remember hearing about the the chemical leak in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without drinkable water. A company had a tank containing a compound called 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol that leaked into a local river. As it turns out, this compound is too small to be filtered out by even the best water filters.

One other thing to keep in mind about purifying water is that many means of purifying only take care of bacteria and viruses. Boiling, for example, will kill all bacteria and viruses by the time the water begins to boil but will not remove any of the chemicals that were in that water. The same can be said for UV purifiers, Iodine and water purification tablets.
 

Water Storage

There is a rule of thumb about water storage that says to store one gallon of water per person per day for drinking. My problem with this rule is that I drink that much per day now, and I am not exerting myself like I might be when the stuff begins to fly. The temps where I live are also much cooler than they will be in a few months. I have also heard people say to store two gallons, using the second gallon for cooking and cleaning. I think this number is actually safer, but now you need to increase the amount of storage needed.

I have seen some water storage systems that use multiple 55 gallon food grade drums to store water. While this is a great idea, it requires a good amount of space to house the drums, not to mention the cost of the barrels.
 

I Own a Well

Owning a well takes care of some of the water problems, but not all of them. The pumps are electricity driven, so if the grid goes down, or your pump breaks down, you have water, but no way to get to it. You could switch to a solar powered pump and have a spare, but I have no idea if this is cost effective.
 

Water Procurement

What I mean by “water procurement” is the ability to find water nearby (within walking distance) that you could bring home to purify. I can think of five places nearby where I could get water, but I live in the land of 10,000 (actually closer to 20,000) lakes, not to mention rivers, streams, ponds and so on, so I realize I have it easier than some of you in this regard.

Here are a few places that are not natural bodies of water that I keep in mind for procuring water. Nearby swimming pools; yes they have chlorine but that will off-gas in a matter of days. Depending on where you live, hot water heaters also hold 30-40 gallons (some more). I had two rain barrels going last year. Within minutes of a moderate rainfall, they were both full. The water was filthy, so it would definitely need to be filtered.
 

Putting it All Together

We don’t know what might happen to threaten our supply of drinking water, so there is no single silver bullet solution. What is the answer to this problem? Redundancy! I think it is wise to consider all of the above and incorporate them into your preparations. Have some water stored to get you through small emergencies, but also know multiple locations near you where you can procure more water, be they natural or man-made. Have a means to purify that water!

 
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Berkey Guy Giveaway

Berkeyguygiveaway

 

I wanted to let you all know about a great giveaway that one of my sponsors is doing.    As you can see from the above image, he is giving away ten 5 watt solar chargers.  Follow the link and join his various social media for multiple entries.  I was a bit tardy in posting on this, the contest ends Thursday at midnight

The Berkey Guy is who I have purchased our Berkey unit and sport bottles from, and who I will purchase from in the future, here is a review I did on my Berkey last year.  If you’re in the market for water filtration, please head to the Berkey Guy and see what he has to offer.

Types of Water Purifiers and Their Applications

In The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water I covered water purification pretty thoroughly. Today I want to discuss the types of purification systems and their applications, as one purifier might be a better fit in certain situations.

Gravity Fed

These systems have one reservoir to hold unpurified water and often have a second reservoir to hold the purified water. These systems use gravity to pass the water through the filter at a slow and steady pace. In my opinion these systems are often best at home or at a base camp. They are often too big and bulky to be used in the field. The plus side of these units is that they are passive. The only thing you need to do is add unpurified water and take the purified water away.

Any of the pitcher type units such as PUR and other models are gravity fed. Some bigger names geared at preparedness are Berkey and MSR .

Pump

These systems force water through the filter. In most cases there is no reservoir, the dirty water can be taken directly from a source such as a river or lake. Or you can collect dirty water in a separate reservoir. You will also need to have a container ready to collect the clean water. To me, it makes sense to have a system like this in the field, along with your water bottle or canteen.

There are in house systems that attach directly to your faucet. These are pump fed. Some popular preparedness brands are Katadyn, MSR and Lifesaver.

Water Bottles with Purifiers

With these, you add water to the bottle and use a straw of sorts to suck the water through the filter. I think these are a solid second option, but the other options may be a better primary, with the exception of the Lifesaver. The Lifesaver is considered a pump, but it is the size of a water bottle and can filter water fast enough to be useful for multiple people, once the filter has expired on the lifesaver, a failsafe will not allow it to function until the filter is replaced.

Ultraviolet

Using an ultraviolet purifier will kill viruses and bacteria but will not remove any chemicals or other contaminants. To use this method you will need a container to hold the water and place the UV source directly into the water. The water in that container will then be free of bacteria and viruses. A downside to these is that they require outside power, either from batteries of electricity.

In my opinion this is a great option for backup purification.

Steripen and TrojanUV are two companies that produce this type of purification technology.

Chemical

Bleach, chlorine and Iodine water purification tablets are all methods that, like the ultraviolet, will kill bacteria and viruses, but won’t remove chemicals. In some cases such as with iodine will add a foul taste.

This, in my opinion, is another good backup method.

Final thoughts

In looking into the different brands and methods, I am very impressed with the Lifesaver. They do a lot of humanitarian work. It is their goal to end water poverty. They are trying to change the way people think about providing clean water in emergencies. Right now after a typhoon or hurricane, the thought is to bring in clean drinking water. Lifesaver is saying, “just treat the dirty water that is already there.” On their website they show a video of how the bottle works. The jerry can works the same way, though it can do more water at one time. I’m seriously considering buying one of the jerry cans. In the video the creator says that one jerry can will purify 25,000 liters.

If you’re interested in the Lifesaver products in the US, use this link to Lifesaver USA.

 

The Last Water Bottle I’ll Ever Buy: Guyot 38oz stainless bottle



A few years ago I wanted to replace my plastic Nalgene bottle due to it and other plastic bottles containing Bisphenol-A (BPA).  BPA has been linked to various cancers and other maladies.  At the time, there were only a few non-plastic options available.  The one I liked the most was from Guyot Designs.  (At the time of this post their website is down for redesign but their products are still available on Amazon.)  My wife got me two bottles as gifts, one for work and the other for home. 

 
Guyot Designs 38oz

Specifications:

  • Price $35.00
  • 38 ounce container
  • Made from 18/10 surgical grade stainless

 

Pros

  • Since it is metal it is BPA Free.
  • When sealed correctly, the lid is spill proof.
  • The wide mouth makes filling easy but also makes the splash guard a must-have.  I know we got a splash guard with each bottle but that was directly from Guyot Designs.  I don’t know what the other vendors who sell through Amazon will do.
  • The wide mouth also makes cleaning easier.
  • Even with the cap slightly on, this bottle keeps liquids surprisingly cool for an extended time.  This is my opinion from having it on my desk at work all day.
  • Because the metal isn’t wimpy it can take a tumble.  I’ve dropped mine on concrete and it has a minor ding.
  • This is a wide container with a diameter just over 3.5” and a circumference of almost 11”.  It doesn’t tip easily.
  • As it is metal, even though it says not to put hot liquids in, in an emergency you could easily boil water with it, as long as you had a hot pad of some sort, as the container would get VERY hot.
  • Since it holds 38oz, drink two a day and you’ve drank the recommended amount of water.
  • It is dishwasher safe, to insure sanitization. 

 

Cons

  • It is expensive for a water bottle.  Since it is the last one I will ever purchase, I see it as being frugal.  I have no problem paying for the quality of something that will last a very long time.
  • As I mentioned, my wife got me two.  There is a “rope” connecting the lid to the body.  The “rope” came loose on both of them.  This was easily remedied with a little super glue, even after repeated dishwasher cycles.
  • The width might be an issue for some, I have fairly big hands and this is a handful to be sure.  There is another Guyot bottle called The Backpacker.  It has a narrower base and would be easier to hold, but that would also make it easier to tip over.  Incidentally, the The Backpacker is $25.00. 

 

My Take

Since many manufactures started using different metals and stopped using polycarbonate polymers to make their bottles, there are many more options available.  I have looked at many others and haven’t found one yet that comes close to the Guyot Designs 38oz.

I give this item four stars.

 

The Five Basic Human Needs

There is a lot of talk about “preparing for economic downfall” or “getting ready for an EMP or solar flare” or “societal meltdown”. The problem with preparing for specific events is that the events you’re preparing for might never happen, or if it does, it could happen differently than you expect.

It doesn’t matter what part of the world you live in, how old you are or even how much money you make, there are five basic things that every human needs to live, let alone survive. If you prepare for meeting these five basic needs, you will have a higher level of overall preparedness and ability to face a variety of situations.

Whether you’re preparing for your entire family or just making a new BOB (Bug Out Bag) or car kit, you should work toward meeting these five basic needs first. Once they’re met, if you want to add in specialty preparations for a specific type of event, more power to you.

Water

I covered The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water pretty thoroughly in that article. Here I will just say that people need one gallon a day to drink, more if you want to bathe. Water is so much more important than food. The Rule of Three’s says we can last three weeks without food, but only three days without water. Having some stored is great, but I highly recommend you find a way to purify water that works for you. Boiling will kill any bacteria but will not remove chemicals such as arsenic or chlorine. For that you need a water purifier. I own and reviewed a Big Berkey. The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water lists many other ways to purify and filter water.

Food

There are many ways to approach food, from using Copy Canning to build your pantry with the “eat what you store, store what you eat” foods that your family eats most often, to storing staple foods with a 25+ year shelf life or planning long term with gardening and Permaculture and many things in between.

Water might be the most important, but food is the insurance policy that ensures your self-reliance and independence. In a survival situation the more food you have stored, or available in your land, the less of a drain you are on the system and the longer you can go without taking a handout.

I have covered food storage in depth in the articles linked below:

Food Storage Part One: Why Store Food And The Rules For It.
Food Storage Part Two: The Kind Of Foods That You Can Store
Food Storage Part Three: Shelf Life of Staples.
Food Storage Part Four: The Process and Enemies of Food Storage.
Food Storage Part Five: How much food should you store and where should you put it all?
Food Storage Part Six: Tips On Stocking Up and Affording it all.
Food Storage Part Seven: Food Boredom to Survival Cooking .

Shelter

The importance of shelter depends on your situation. Of course, if you’re lost in the wilderness and it’s raining, it takes on more importance. For most of us however, our shelter is our home. There are things you can do now to protect your home, such as general fire safety, or to harden your home with a safe room.

When you’re in your car, it is effectively your shelter. Having a car kit and AAA are ways to make sure your car can be an effective shelter should the need arise.

Energy

This is an area that doesn’t get as much attention as the others, I think mostly because we are so used to always having power, that we take it for granted. You can ensure you can meet your energy needs with a portable generators. A low end unit can cost just a couple hundred bucks. I covered off grid fuels. You can find backup ways to heat and cook for relatively cheap.

If you have no power, it is still possible to keep food cold without electricity. Make note of it now and have a plan just in case.

Energy and shelter often go hand in hand. If your car does become your shelter, or you do get lost in the woods, do you know how to make fire? Do you have a car kit? Do you have a mini kit? I’ll cover fire starting in another article, but knowing how to make fire can be a lifesaving skill; to make heat and a signal for others to see.

Security

I want to start by pointing to an article I wrote on whether or not Christians should practice self-defense for those of you have reservations on the subject. My personal stance is that I pray for my enemy now, but if he attempts to do me or mine harm, I will be a danger to my enemy and will use as much force as is necessary to stop the threat.

The first part of self-defense is situational awareness, Proverbs 27:12 tells us:

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

Because the danger cannot always be avoided, using the Cooper Color Code we can be ready for a possible threat ahead of time. I suggest everyone one of us decides now what we’re willing to do to protect ourselves and those we love, because you will not have time to make a plan in the midst of violence.

Find a means of protection you are comfortable with and get training in it. If that means carrying pepper spray or training in real world self-defense, fine.

If that means using a current handgun, or getting a new handgun and getting your conceal and carry permit, or just being armed at home, then get training and go for it.

 My Take

No matter where you are or what situation you are in, these needs do not change. Preparing ahead of time and building redundancy for these five needs will help to mitigate many situations.

 

The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water.

Aside from oxygen, water is the one thing we cannot live without for very long. In fact the rule of three’s states the average human can only go three days without water, but don’t kid yourself, those last two wouldn’t be pleasant. I think that water filtration/purification and storage should be near the top of most preparedness plans.

How much water a person uses per day varies based on the climate, level of activity and other factors. According to The Mayo Clinic The average person should drink 8 – 8 ounce glasses of water a day (64 ounces of water is ½ gallon). If temperatures are warm, or activity is high water intake will be higher.

In an emergency situation clean water may not be available. Look at the problems with Cholera in Haiti going on right now, or what happened in India after the Tsunami. There are two ways to mitigate this, one is by having water stored ahead of time and the second is by having a means to treat the water after.

In a survival situation the research I have done shows that an average person will use around two gallons of water per day, this includes drinking, for food preparation, and hygiene. I have seen recommendations that say from one liter to one gallon are enough. Here is a great place for “I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it”.

Storage:

As mentioned above, store two gallons of water per person per day. I recommend having a minimum of at least one week worth of water stored for each person and pet in your family. This can be done with cases of water bottles, individual gallons or with multiple gallon containers like a 5, 15 or 55-gallon drum. For animals the amount of water needed is going to depend on the size, I would think a liter or so a day would be more then enough for most.

Water in bottles or single gallon containers will most likely have an expiration date. It’s not that the water goes bad, but the plastic can leech into it. For this reason, all water stored in plastic containers of any size, should be rotated every six months. If you want to just empty the container and refill that, I would think that should be just fine as any leeched chemicals will go out with the old water.

As I mentioned, water stored for any length if time won’t go bad (aside from leeching), but it could taste “flat”. To remedy this you can aerate the water by pouring it from one container into another and back a few times.

If you want to use recycled containers such as milk jugs, 2-liter or 5 gallon to55 gallon barrels, here are a few things to keep in mind. If the container is recycled then I would suggest first making sure the recycled container was food grade, look for recycle triangle (usually found on the bottom). Here is a website that explains what the different numbers inside of the triangle mean, anything with a 1 or 2 is good.

Be aware that the water can retain the smell and taste of what was originally stored in it. If you cannot tell what was stored in it, it might be best to buy new. It might cost a bit more, but at least your water won’t smell like pickles or something worse.

This is a barrel very similar to mine, but a bit cheaper. At the time I am posting this Amazon has a shipping option that is free, I do not know if this expires after Christmas or not. If it does not expire, then this is a very good price.

For the barrel to be usable, you will also need a bung wrench and a pump. The first pump listed is the one I have, I’m most likely going to upgrade to the second one, because the quality is just much higher.

 

If you choose a 55-gallon barrel keep in mind the weight when full. Answers.com says that “A gallon of water weighs approximately 8.34 pounds, 55 gallons weigh 55 x 8.34 = 458.7 pounds”

If you want to be able to move the barrel, then you’ll need to use a dolly. There are some made to fit a 55 gallon drum, like the first dolly listed. Or you can do what I did and save $30 and buy a furniture dolly with a high weight limit, either will support the weight of a full 55 gallon barrel.

 

Water Collection

Unless there is access to a well, no one can store enough water to last them indefinitely. As a result, water collection is something you should give some thought now. What natural or man-made bodies of water are near you? Lakes, rivers streams, ponds, swamps, swimming pools, hot tub, hot water heaters have depending on size, 40 gallons, the tank on the back of a toilet is another source. Not all of this water is fit to drink, but it could be used for other things such as hygiene, watering plants or a garden.

Another source of water, if you have the system in place ahead of time is rain catchment. Believe it or not, for every inch of rain that falls on a catchment area of 1,000 square feet, you can expect to collect approximately 600 gallons of rainwater. Ten inches of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot catchment area will generate about 6,000 gallons of rainwater! The supplies consist of a barrel, gutters a downspout and possibly an attachment for the downspout.

How much rain water can you collect in a storm?

Here are rain barrels similar to the ones that I use. The reason that I like these is that near the top there is an overflow opening that you can attach a hose to and connect it to another barrel. I paid less then half the price for mine, which I purchased at a farmers market. If you want to be able to have more then one barrel connected to the same down spout, then I recommend looking for one with a similar design. Here also is the rain diverter that I have.

 

Water Treatment

Purify and filter; are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Both will remove bacteria (Campylobacter Jejuni) and protozoan cysts (Giardia Lamblia, Cryptosporidium) from contaminated water. Only a purifier will remove viruses (hepatitis A, meningitis) from contaminated water.

Filtration:
There are many types of water filters from personal bottle filtration units to large family size, multiple filter units. As mentioned above a filter will not kill viruses, after filtering water, it can be boiled to kill viruses.

You can also find instructions on how to make your own. I would only recommend this if you do not have any filtration system in a survival situation, you should also boil the water to kill any virus that it may contain. Here are instructions to make a home made filter.

Purification:

Boiling:
According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude.

Bleach:
Use bleach that has no added scent. Here are guidelines from the CDC on using bleach to make water safe.

If tap water is clear:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops or about 0.75 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If tap water is cloudy:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon (16 drops or 1.5 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If you store water that you are adding water to the container from the tap. If you add the recommended amount of bleach for clear water, it will kill any pathogens that might sneak in, this is more of a concern if you have a well.

Iodine:
Iodine tablets are effective at killing many things except Cryptosporidium. Some people are allergic to iodine and cannot use it for water purification. Iodine tablets will also leave a chemical after taste and should be a short-term solution. With the drawbacks of iodine tablets, they’re not my first pick; if it’s a good fit for you then they might be a good addition to your BOB.

Chlorine:
Chlorine is one of the most common ways that water is purified, this is done by many municipalities. Chloramine or chlorine dioxides are some of the compounds that are used in water purification tablets.

Water purification tablets:
The active ingredient is often chlorine dioxide these are effective against bacteria, viruses and cysts, such as Cryptosporidium. Depending on brand, one or two tablets treat one quart of water, these also leave no after taste. These should be a short-term solution; this would be a good addition to a BOB.

Here are the Military Water Purification Tablets that I have.

Water Filters/Purifiers
There are a large number of products to treat your water, they range from sport water bottles with built in filters to large home systems.

Here is a water filter comparison chart . This shows a comparison of cost, cost of replacement filter, things that are filtered, price per gallon.

I don’t know what will work the best for you; all I can tell you is what I found in my research and what I chose to do.

We have a Berkey system at home, the gallons filtered per hour, the price per gallon and the fact that Berkey products are a purifier and not just a filter, make this an easy decision for me.

For our BOB’s I chose water purification tablets and the Berkey sport, but Katadyn has some nice filters to fit this need. The reason I went with Berkey is that it acts as a container and a purifier, not just a purifier.

SteriPEN is a technology that is new to me, here is what the manufacturer claims about it “SteriPEN products use ultraviolet (UV) light technology to purify water, destroying more than 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidia.” I might look into getting one of these as well, it would be nice when needing to purify a lot of water quickly.

Random water information:

Well water:
Many people have a well as their primary source of drinking water. Well water is not necessarily safe, and should be filtered. Here is a good page from the CDC that explores wells and the concerns associated with them.

City water:
Here is an explanation on how many cities treat their water.
However, just because your water comes from the city, it does not mean it is always safe. There are many people that believe that fluoride is a poison in large amounts and that it should not be added to the water. I’ll let you do your own research, but I will say that Berkey makes a filter that will remove it if you want it out of your water.

Here is a recent report that shows that test’s in New York City recently showed elevated lead levels

City Officials: Tap Water Shows Elevated Lead Levels

Recycling water:
Water can often be recycled and used again.

Greywater is water that can be recycled from activities like bathing, laundry or food preparation and can be used for things like watering the garden.

Blackwater is water containing human waste. Even if there are ways out there to treat it, I’ll pass.

Here are some links that have a lot of miscellaneous information relating to water.

Preventing Travelers’ Diarrhea: How to Make Drinking Water Safe.

Water-Related Emergencies and Outbreaks

This page has a lot of links with random subjects relating to water .  It has everything from how to build a rain catchment system to building a fountain to a well drilling tutorial.