Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Disaster Preparedness: How to Store Water

Česky: Pitná voda - kohoutek Español: Agua potableImage via WikipediaQuestion: How should one store water in an emergency?
Answer: Plentifully and pre-emptively!

You might not think that water shortages are an issue.  You might, like me, live in a suburb like Pequannock, which is sufficiently supplied by its own artesian well system, even during droughts.  Unfortunately, things like water main breaks still happen and even something as simple as a localized power failure can prevent water pumps from supplying your home during an emergency.

It was sometime after the earthquake and after Hurricane Irene, but before the Halloween Blizzard of 2011 that I decided that my family needed emergency water storage.  Up until that time, we had relied on 1 gallon spring water jugs from the supermarket, but these were not made to last, leaked, split, were damaged by the sun, and in general were a disaster unto themselves.  I looked into other options including a cistern outdoors (too pricey, difficult to maintain, and unattractive).  I considered a homemade PVC pipe container, but it turns out PVC is rated for long term water storage.  I thought about glass bottles, but no one makes anything bigger than a one gallon jug out of glass in the United States anymore.  Finally, I stumbled upon the answer: Aqua-Tainers, designed for both emergency storage and use while camping.

Each Aqua-Tainer holds 7 gallons and is made from thick blue food grade non-bpa PVC.  This was literally the best option short of a blue pickle barrel and I was able to secure my Aqua-Tainers from Walmart at $11.98 apiece.  Homeland Security standards say you should store one gallon per person per day for a 2 week interval.  That means for a family of 5, you'd need to store 70 gallons or 10 Aqua-Tainers.  This is not a problem as the Aqua-Tainers are cubes designed to stack tightly on top of one another and the containers have a very long lifespan.

Aqua-Tainers are the best option I've seen for drinking water storage and I recommend everyone pick some up today.  Based upon my research, for the average family, the second best resource for emergency drinking water is to buy several packages of individual water bottles, date them, then rotate them through (using them on a week to week basis) so that they plastic doesn't degrade and they don't get stale.  When I say best, I mean that impure drinking water can make a disaster into a catastrophe and for the average person, this system is the easiest to follow safely.

For non-drinking water in an emergency, fill your bathtubs and sinks with water as soon as you know the disaster is coming.  Your heating system, water heater, and swimming pool can also be sources of wash water in an emergency, though it goes without saying that these sources are not fit for human consumption.

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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