Imagine that you go to the kitchen and turn the faucet and nothing comes out. You are without water because there is no electricity. And how long before you run out depends on where you get your water from.
If you are on your own well or tank, it will all depend on how much is stored in the water lines and the tank before it is gone, but it will generally happen pretty quickly.
If you are on city water, it is generally pumped using electricity to large storage tanks you see around your town or area where it is disinfected and distributed through hundreds of miles of pipeline, booster stations and gravity and depending on quite a few variables (like broken water lines), your tap may continue to function for quite awhile (but cold water only and if you live in a high rise that has its own pumping system, you may be out of luck).
In today’s world with the possibility of electrical outages due to forced fire hazards, terrorism or quarantines of those manning the pumps, it always pays to have a little bit of water stored in containers at home where you can access it easily.
Survivalist literature always talks about the “rules of three” – 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without core body temperature regulation, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food, so as a general rule, I’d look at having at least 25 gallons per person on hand at any given time.
The general rule of thumb is that you’ll need one gallon of water per person per day. Half a gallon is used for drinking and the other half is used for hygiene. That number will go up depending on a whole host of factors. If you live in a hot climate or have pregnant or nursing women in your group, you’ll want to store more water.
How To Store Water For An Emergency
If you don’t have much space or live in a small apartment, consider filling up the bathtub and sink as soon as you know their might be trouble. Or if you have a swimming pool on hand, so much the better! Just make sure you purify it before drinking. (see the next article in this series).
You can store water in food grade plastic, glass or stainless steel containers. Make sure you have ways to seal the container to keep bacteria and dirt out.
One of the easiest (but more expensive) ways is to just stock up on your cases of bottled water. If you buy it anyway, start getting one or two extra and when you have reached you set upon limit, start rotating out the older cases for the new.
Your next step should be to buy/use numerous canteens or hydration bladders that may be stored in your vehicles, bug out bags, etc full. Empty water bottles or jugs can also be used.
And then you should consider using 3-5 gallon containers that are sold specifically for water storage. If you can, get the stackable ones to save space or purchase a storage rack to organize you new collection.
Finally, consider getting some 55 gallon food grade barrels that can be stored outside or used as a rain barrel if you have the space. They’re made from sturdy food-grade plastic and have bungs at the top that can be sealed super tight in order to protect your water from contamination. The plastic is also BPA-free and UV-resistant. Two of these will give a family of four about 27 days worth of water.
If you are storing water long-term and your water isn’t already chlorinated, get some long-term water treatment to prevent algae build-up.
And if you have your own well, a 1,000 gallon or so water tank is always a welcome addition as is a cistern, horse tank, real rain barrel underneath a gutter, etc.
I’d consider rotating or refilling your storage once a year to keep it fresh and to check you containers.
And if something does happen, be careful with what you use. In the Corps, we are always on the canteen a day plan that had to last for drinking, shaving and cleaning the hair parts on our bodies, so make it last, especially if you don’t know when you will have more.