water

Water Storage for a Rainy Day

Fact: People can live without food longer than without water. Fact: Drinking water can be stored for long periods of time. Fiction: If there is an emergency, there is enough bottled water in local stores to handle the need. Fiction: The chances of you needing safe drinking water is less than average because natural disasters happen in other parts of the country, not here.

Why do survivalists say water is step one in emergency preparedness? Simple, for many natural or man-made disasters, safe drinking water may become a rare, priceless commodity. Having enough drinking water will, at a minimum, save you and your loved ones from unpleasant side effects, and best case, save lives.

For some, Emergency Preparedness feels overwhelming. Just wrapping our minds about needing water, food, first aid, etc. brings up uncomfortable feelings. While there is no scientific evidence indicating the world is going to come to an end in 2012, there is plenty of evidence to indicating natural and man-made disasters happen all the time, and so does the need to set some things aside for a rainy day. Rain happens. So where do you begin?
The easiest way of getting prepared is to pick up some commercially prepared water. Whether it is distilled, spring, or plain old bottled water, it does not matter. What matters is that you have enough. Minimum requirements: One gallon of water, per person, per day for three days. (Formula: 1g/p/dx3) It’s easy to pick up an extra case of water (which by the way can be stored for at least five years) and put it in your basement or in some out of the way place. Remember, if you have pets, they will need water as well. AND it is “smart” to set a little extra aside because you never know what or who might drop by and for how long.

Next, now that you have set yourself up for success for a 72 hour period, consider adding enough water for a long term emergency. Sometimes it takes weeks, even months, before everything turns back to normal. While water heaters, toilets, pipes, etc. can and will provide some water (as could rain water, rivers, lakes, streams), we suggest picking up a 30 or 55 gallon drum or two for water storage. Another option are 5 gallon pails for water.

Lastly, unless the water is from a sealed container, it is important to keep in mind that it is not always safe, regardless where it comes from. It is important to learn how to disinfect drinking water, especially any water that comes from a questionable source. To disinfect the water, simply boil it for about three minutes. There are commercially available treatment solutions and chlorine bleach (concentration depends on the number of gallons being disinfected), which can kill all dangerous organisms that may be present. Emergency Preparedness, its easy.

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Course 101: What to do in an emergency?

Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and they can be devastating. The impact on roadways, power stations, water plants, and water sewage treatment plants can turn the “normal routine” upside down for hours, days, even months and years. Having fires with no water to fight them or local EMTs so swamped that there are no professionally trained people to assist in an emergency is no laughing matter.

Emergencies happen without warning. There is no time to think. Whether it be a natural disaster such as an earthquake (44 of the 50 states are earthquake prone) or severe weather, or a man made disaster caused by equipment failure, such as a power outage, it is important to be prepared. By thinking, planning, and preparing ahead of time, one is able to respond quickly and calmly. The benefits of being prepared are numerous: lives are saved, injuries are prevented, and property damages are reduced. It is easier to “bounce back” from an emergency. Lets review some basics to emergency response for various disasters.

How one responds vary depending on the type of emergency. A medical emergency is the most common. Getting proper first aid training helps one determine how to quickly assess a situation calmly and with control. It also reduces the fear that often comes up when one is in an unfamiliar situation. First and foremost always keep yourself safe. People are the number one priority. Be prepared to assist others as to the location and type of emergency. Dialing 9-1-1 may be all you can do.

For weather emergencies, stay out of harms way by seeking shelter. Stay inside and clear of falling debris. “Duck, cover and hold” may be apropos. That is, seek safety underneath a table or sturdy object, cover your head, and stay put until the situation becomes safe. Stay alert for aftershocks in an earthquake situation. The impact of tornados may have created an unsafe situation so care is to be taken. Be sure to secure equipment to prevent any possible lateral movement or having equipment tip over. Shut off main valves, such as gas lines to prevent leaks.

If there is a fire, notify personnel, shut down equipment and leave or evacuate the area safely. Use and knowledge of fire suppression equipment is critical. Check for broken connectors after shutting off main valves. Check with a flashlight, do not use a match. It is important to have a designated meeting area to re-assess the situation and determine if everyone is safe and what might need to be communicated to emergency personnel.

If a chemical spill happens, stop and think. Is it hazardous? Do I know what to do? Do I have the proper equipment? Am I trained? Is this a danger to you or the facility? Do not try to clean it up, but instead, rope it off and let properly trained professional personnel clean up the spill. Again, the first rule of safety is keeping yourself and others clear of potential dangers.

Keep food and water storage, first aid kit, tool supplies, sanitation, flashlight and batteries and other emergency preparedness materials in a place that is easily accessible. Utilize water supplies such as water heater, toilets, ice cube trays, when needed in an emergency. Pre-emergency drills go a long way to instill calm and focus. Remember it is not uncommon to be isolated from your loved ones during an emergency. Being separated due to work and proximity constraints happens often. Now is the time to practice and get prepared.

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Water Water Everywhere…or Maybe Not

Yesterday I attended a brunch honoring the summer mission trips sponsored by a local church in Salt Lake City. For one trip, a couple dozen teenagers went down to a city just outside of Mazatlan, Mexico. Jeff talked about the water situation in Mexico. What he understands today (and took for granted prior to the trip) was that water is a luxury in North America.

EACH PERSON uses almost 25 gallons each day in most households for cleaning, cooking, drinking, bathing, and sanitary reasons, etc. Suddenly Jeff was without drinkable tap water. He had to travel nearly a mile and a half to turn on a pump that would fill up a cistern at the home. He had to travel several miles to Mazatlan to find a drinkable water source. Jeff woke up to just much he takes for granted the water situation here in Utah. Like Jeff, most are unaware of just fortunate we have it.

The human body can only survive three days without drinking water and because of this, water is a high priority when it comes to emergency preparedness. Should the power grid that supply water to most of our homes stop working or the local water supply become contaminated due to flooding it is going to be critical that you find a source for safe drinking water. New Orleans, Nashville, Houston, Haiti, and others have experienced this crisis.

We believe it is a good idea to have a week’s worth of water saved for your household. Most suggest a minimum of one gallon of water a day per person. Understand this ONLY refers to drinking water and does not take into account any additional water needed for cooking, bathing, sanitary reasons, etc. So take the time to make a plan and follow through by getting the needed food and water to protect your family in a time of need. Educate yourself and your family members to preserve the water you do possess. Be prepared.

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FEMA’s 5 Essentials for Water in an Emergency/Disaster

1. Allow people to drink according to their needs. Many people need even more than the average of one-half gallon, per day. The individual amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition, and time of year.

2. Never ration water unless ordered to do so by authorities. Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Under no circumstances should a person drink less than one quart (four cups) of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

3. Drink water that you know is not contaminated first. If necessary, suspicious water, such as cloudy water from regular faucets or water from streams or ponds, can be used after it has been treated. If water treatment is not possible, put off drinking suspicious water as long as possible, but do not become dehydrated.

4. Do not drink carbonated beverages instead of drinking water. Carbonated beverages do not meet drinking-water requirements. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

5. Turn off the main water valves. You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and other family members know how to perform this important procedure.

◦ To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.

◦ To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.

Source: www.FEMA.gov

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Water Storage

“NEXT TO AIR, WATER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT FOR LIFE. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE ENOUGH ON HAND.”

The new millennium has come with a fierceness we have not seen, perhaps ever.  The last decade of disasters, including a tsunami, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and floods, have woke many of us up to this simple fact: WATER is a critical component of preparedness for any emergency situation.  Clean water is essential for emergency medical treatments, drinking, food preparation, and sanitation.  Government agencies (FEMA, USGS, OES, etc.) and relief agencies such as the Red Cross, have elevated recommendations for preparedness from the traditional “three days of self-sufficiency” to “five to seven days minimum and seven to fourteen days recommended” in recently published planning scenarios.

Why is water a key in these recommendations?  Experts indicate that some aqueducts and reservoirs may be inoperative for up to 3-6 months, and the piping systems required to distribute the water to homes and businesses could also be severely disrupted for long periods of time.  An all too painful reminder: The fall 2009 Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (RIPA) meeting was held in New Orleans.  I toured the NOLA community to discover it is still reeling five years after hurricane Katrina brought it to its knees.

Definitive care specialists have shown the importance of water on our wellbeing.  A loss of only 5-10% of a person’s body fluids can result in moderate shock that may become life threatening if left untreated.  The simple fact is that human body can not survive even one week without water.  In general terms, the body requires four times as much water as food.  For persons trying to respond to or recover from an emergency, body fluid loss can occur rather quickly depending on temperature, activity level, emotional state, and/or possible injuries.  A basic treatment for shock is to maintain body temperature and to give fluids, especially water.

It is important that an adequate supply of water be properly stored BEFORE an emergency so it is readily available without the need for filtration, boiling, or treatment.  Keep water stored for emergencies free from bacterial growth and other contaminants.  A recent Utah State University study showed much of the water they tested that was stored contained bacteria, 11% contained E-Coli.  They make two key recommendations: store the water below 21 degrees C and that all stored water have chlorine bleach added (16 drops per gallon – 3 tablespoons per 55 gallon drum) to ensure safety for emergency use.  In short, treat water with a preserver prior to storage or empty and replace regularly with fresh, clean water.  Store in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight.

Ideally, water should be stored in three forms: 1) In portable containers, suitable for dispensing, for personal drinking, food preparation and sanitation.  2) In large volume drums or containers with a dispensing pump for all uses.  3) In small portable containers or medical or first-aid use as needed.  The best material for 2.5 to 55 gallon water storage containers is food grade polyethylene that meet the US Department of Transportation (DOT) specifications.  While the containers may have components made from other materials, only polyethylene touches the water.  On smaller, pre-filled, packages, look for products with “sterile” packaging and a minimum 5 year shelf life.

The easiest way to store the bulk of your water is in 55 gallon polyethylene (plastic) water drums (Food and Drug Administration, FDA, approved for storing drinking water).  The drums available at MBC are the best industry has to offer and are designed to have weight stacked on them when filled with water.  This allows one to stack your food on them, thus saving space while keeping your food and water together.  Some survival experts recommend two 55 gallon drums of water per person.  This, along with collecting “rain water”, should be suitable.  When you consider most households use in excess of 100 gallons of water per day for drinking, bathing, laundry, dishes, sanitation, etc., this isn’t a lot of water.

Water that we take for granted when things are normal, become absolutely essential for life and a vital resource in any disaster.  The lessons we have learned this past decade have taught us if we take our water supply for granted, we will regret it.

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