How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Water Everywhere and Nothing to Drink

Water everywhere, and nothing to drink! So according to studies, and we all know how accurate they are, your average American uses about 50 gallons of water a day.  Great Caesar’s Ghost!  And here I am telling you that you should have not days, not weeks, but MONTHS of water stored.  Why, that’s 1,500 gallons of water per person, or 6,000 gallons of water per family (assuming you’ve got two kids) per month!  Where on EARTH are you going to store 802 cubic feet of water that weighs 50,000 pounds?  Good grief, that’s 25 tons!

How much water do I need to survive?

Don’t worry!  Everyone knows how wasteful we are.  Our federal government has come to our rescue once again and relieved preppers and home owners insurance carriers everywhere.  FEMA and the red cross say that in a “Survival Situation” we only need one gallon per person per day.  Far more doable!

I personally think that the bare minimum isn’t good enough, and that we should plan for at least two gallons per day.  The engineer in me says that in addition to that, we need to have a failsafe, so I add another 50% on top of that, for a total of three gallons per day.
For my family, two adults and six pets … err kids, that’s 24 gallons a day, 720 gallons a month, or 8,640 gallons for a year.  Since you are smart enough to know that you should read my blog, I am confident you can do the math for your own family.

So where does this water come from?

Well, there’s really two ways you can get clean water.  From a tap and from the store.  Problem solved!  Until the water stops flowing out of the taps, or comes out smelling like the neighbor’s dog, and the store is fresh out of drinking water.  So all you have to do is dip into your stored water and you’re sitting pretty!  You did store water, right?

Maybe you still have the Wet Dog scented water and don’t want to dip into your stored water yet.  You need a way to purify the water you have, whether it’s from a bad municipal supply or the stream that runs through your neighborhood, rainwater, whatever.

Bottom line, you need to have two bases covered.  Water storage for ready access, and purification because no matter how much you store, you’ll eventually run out.

So how do I store all this water?

Well, I would advise against the 5 gallon bucket route.  Personally speaking, that seems like a disaster in the making.  Most people use glorified 55 gallon barrels and those generally seem to work pretty well.  Some people like to reuse 2L soda bottles or milk cartons.  I’m frugal, sure, but the thought of cleaning that stuff out is just baffling to me.  I’d rather spend a little bit of money on something else.

Personally, I’d recommend storing it in two ways.  Go down to the store and get your regular water bottles (500ml is a good size) and store those for drinking water.  Makes portioning easy, it’s far easier to deal with than a hose and a barrel, and it’s easy to rotate.  For cooking, cleaning, and the rest of your drinking water, use a commercial storage system that fits your home.  That may be water storage barrels, or a cistern, or a fiberglass tank, whatever works for your home and your lifestyle.

Some key points to consider:

  1. Water is HEAVY. One gallon weighs 8.35 lbs.  Don’t store your water stash in your attic.
  2. Store water in food safe containers. Storing it in an old oil barrel is a pretty bad idea, no matter how much soap you use and how hard you scrub.
  3. Water gets boring. Think of ways to make it interesting.  We like those little Crystal Light individual packets.
  4. Water can taste flat. This is just because the oxygen has escaped the water.  Shake it up a bit, or aerate it by pouring it between containers a few times and it’ll taste fine.
  5. Water can get skunky. Store it in a cool dark place to inhibit anything funky.  If you’re storing well water, you should probably treat it a bit with some bleach.  More on that later.  City water’s generally fine.
  6. Rotate your water! See above … you should consider rotating once every six months or so.

Great.  How do I purify water when Wet Dog is all that’s available?

Brita. Pur.  Berkey.  There’s a ton of products out there.  I’ll talk about this in a detailed post all on it’s own, but there’s a couple of key things here I’ll cover now.  You have portable filters that you can use on the go.  Camping filters, etc.  And you have stationary filters whether it’s a Big Berkey which has a huge filtering capacity or a jug style filter like a Brita pitcher.  You need some way to treat your water.  You need to make sure it can filter chemicals, bacteria, viruses, etc.  Again, more on that later but keep filtration in the back of your head as a ‘should have’ for your plans.

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13 Responses to Water Everywhere and Nothing to Drink

  1. Question – does your 3 gallon per person per day include water for showers/bathing, laundry, etc? Or is it more of a “direct needs” estimate?

    • that includes cooking, hygiene, etc. The FEMA number is a minimum average to sustain life and provide basic cooking and hygiene. You’ll want to modify appropriately based on your climate, activity levels, etc. If you live in a hot climate you need to store more water.

      Remember, water is cheap. Store extra!

  2. Adriane – not Rudolph but I think I could help u with that. 3 gal/day shuld be enuff to take care of all u need as long as it isnt wasted. Like, u do spongebath’s a couple tiems a week instead of shower everyday (or tub bath and share water with ur family), handwash laundry and dishes instead of using the machine’s and stuff like that. The amount u actuelly drink would be more like about a half a gallon in a day.

    • Working in construction, i ususally bring a gallon of water to drink during the day (warm and sunny). THat is usally enough. I don’t drink as much indoors in the winter though. We are conservative and using 1 gal / day per person for drinking only. I agree that the other 2 gal/ day should be fine for the other stuff.

  3. Interesting what we really need to have and what we use. I have a college degree in Civil / Environmental engr and worked as a water system design engineer. We always used 80 – 100 gal per day per person for system demand!! Different number for what we need!

    Also, i like your idea of using crystal light in water…

    • It’s surprisingly easy to get ‘water fatigue’ which is why it’s so important to use some sort of flavoring powders to mix it up a bit. Plain old water is great too, but having variety helps a ton.

  4. I linked to an article I wrote on my experiences with the Hawaii earthquake. The government wanted me to use bottled water for my family first to conserve their water.

    I nixed that idea. Imagine doing what they say, using all our bottled water then discovering there’s no more tap water.


    • For that you’ll want to have water storage and/or a secondary power source you can use to power the pump, such as a generator.

      Ideally you’d have a storage tank located higher than your house that can give you some amount of pressure from gravity. We’re going to be doing this with our system at our property, and I’ll write an article sometime over the next couple weeks about it.

  5. Keeping bottle of plain bleach to sanitize water with has been suggested by some articles I have read. That is essentially what our municipal water supple uses for cleaning up our tap water…there is an equation to use on how many TBS or bleach per gallon of water, and I mean river water, pond water, etc. to make it safe to drink…

  6. My city’s water has that wet dog stench that sometimes smells fishy. Can you tell me why? Sometimes it smells like chlorine, but not recently. Now it smells bacterial….its been a hot summer month. I’d like to drink my water here but dont dare! will a water filter truly help?