Last time around I introduced a series I’m calling Family Resilience Essentials. Every now and then I plan to share a few simple things we all can do to help prepare for a rainy day… Just in case.
Here is the list I provided. (After skipping a pretty important one we can’t do too much about – Oxygen.)
- Health / Sanitation
We’ll start with the top of that list today.
Your average person can survive maybe three minutes without Oxygen, three days without Water, and three weeks without Food. Obviously good old H2O is pretty important to have around. The bare minimum amount needed for survival is one liter per person per day, but with that little you’ll be extremely miserable and barely functional. A more appropriate amount to keep on hand is one gallon per person per day. Even that is almost all needed for drinking water, so plan for even more for cooking, washing, and sanitation. Remember that as you’re more active, which is pretty likely in a stressful situation, it’s necessary to drink more than normal. On a personal note, another consideration that now affects our household again is the increased hydration needs of a nursing Mom.
A great place to start being more water resilient is to simply stack some. It shouldn’t break the bank too badly to head to your local Sam’s Club, Costco, or grocery store and buy a few cases of bottles to put aside for emergencies. You can also go the thrifty way, of which I’m always a fan, and sock away your own in empty, clean 2 liter pop bottles or other food-safe containers. We have acquired quite a few 2 liter bottles from neighbors and put them in or take them out of our chest freezer depending on space. That way you stack a couple functions. If the power goes out, those frozen water bottles help keep food frozen a little longer, and you can pull them out to thaw as you need potable drinking water.
But that’s just the start. All that stored water takes up space, and it’s a finite resource. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Therefore, we really need to have some type of water treatment and water harvesting available. I’ve done a lot of research in this area and used quite a few systems personally. My conclusion is I believe every household should have a Big Berkey Water Filter. It is a little pricey up front, but the long term economics and practicality of this system make it the best option, in my humble opinion.
There are a few different sizes of Berkey filters. Choose the one appropriate for the number of little stickers on the rear window of your Minivan.
Unlike some so-called water filters you might pick up in the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart that provide a placebo effect and not much else, the Big Berkey removes parasites, cysts, pathogens, most chemicals, metals, and pretty much everything you don’t want in your drinking water. Simply pour in the nastiest stuff you can find from mud puddles, ponds, streams, rainwater off your roof, or even the tap water after a water pipe breaks and you didn’t see the Boil Advisory on your city’s webpage (where the last style update occurred circa 1999) – because I know we all surf there often checking for breaking news. Then give the Berkey a few minutes, and you’re toasting your family’s good fortune.
Perhaps just as important, this system improves the health of your family even when nothing goes wrong. Before moving to the Homestead, our previous house was tied into city water and we used our Big Berkey every day thanks to additional filters installed that remove additional metals, chlorine, and fluoride from our tap water. Being a public water source so many depend on, I understand the importance of chlorine even though I don’t really want my family to drink it. However, purposely ingesting fluoride boggles my mind. Yeah, I guess it’s good to rub some on your teeth every now and then, but what does that have to do with drinking it? Sunscreen is an OK idea for our kid if he’ll be outside a lot, but I don’t want him to guzzle a pint of Coppertone every day. Maybe that’s just me.
The Big Berkey safely removes all of that and provides our family with pure, clean drinking water, along with providing a little peace of mind we’ll always have potable water if something does go wrong, thanks to our multiple 55 gallon rain barrels coming off the house’s downspouts (and now the chicken coop roof).
Besides, the wife says the shiny, stainless steel body is pretty. So it also has that going for it… which is nice.
Another excellent water filter we depend on that is a little more compact and mobile is the Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Microfilter.
The Hiker Pro provides a relatively large volume of clean water from such a small unit and rode along with us on every camping and motorcycle trip.
There are other ways to treat your water besides filtering and it’s a good idea to have some of these materials/skills on hand. Redundancy is never a bad thing.
- Bring untreated water to a rolling boil for a full minute. You’ll still drink the nasties, but at least they’ll be dead. Make sure you have plenty of fuel for the reliable heat source you’re counting on.
- Treat with liquid Chlorine Bleach, about 1/8 teaspoon per gallon.
- Get creative with coffee filters, bandannas, socks, or anything else since some type of crude filtering is better than nothing at all.
- Keep in mind there are a few stores of water already in your house. Your hot water tank and rear toilet tanks (not bowls!) always contain potable water if ever needed.
There is a lot more we could discuss on this important subject, and I know firsthand it can seem overwhelming when you just start thinking about always being in a position to take care of your family’s needs… but hopefully these simple tips we can all prepare in advance will help keep your household’s Sippy Cups full!
Question of the Day: If your faucets produced dust tomorrow, how many days of water do you have on hand right now?