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Developing your water supply


Week 4

Supplement your water supply in other ways

A 14-day supply for one person is 14 gallons of water – one gallon per person per day. In the previous two weeks we’ve talked about, first, collecting and storing water and, second, supplementing your water supply with “point-of-use” purification and filters. But you can supplement your supply further in other ways.

For example, you’ve got gallons of water sitting in your water heater. Don’t use that water if the tank or fixtures have been submerged in floodwater, but otherwise here’s what you can do:

  1. Turn off the gas or electricity to the water heater. (Turn off the electricity at the fuse or breaker box. Turn off the gas by locating the valve supplying the hot water heater and turning the valve handle so that it crosses – is not lined up with – the gas line.)
  2. Turn off the water intake valve (should be located near the water heater).
  3. Open the drain at the bottom of the tank.
  4. Turn on a hot water faucet. (Water will drain from the tank, not the faucet.) Discard the first few gallons if they contain rust or sediment. Don’t turn the gas or electricity back on until the tank is refilled.

Or you can access water in your pipes. Once again, don’t try to do it if the faucets have been submerged in floodwater, but otherwise here’s what you can do:

  1. Turn off the main water valve where the water comes into the house (usually near the water meter, if you have city water).
  2. Let air into the pipes by turning on the highest faucet in your house.
  3. Get water from the lowest faucet in your house.

Finally, if you have freezer space, consider freezing part of your water supply. This has the added advantage of keeping food in the freezer cold longer during a power outage.

OK, we’ve got a few days left in February, so I encourage you to review the action steps we’ve talked about this month. Prepare your water supply, for yourself and for others!

Firefighter AJ shows Larry how to use his hot water tank as an emergency water source

Week 3

Supplement your stored water with "point-of-use" purification.

February 15, 2017

By Darrell Dorr

A 14-day supply for one person is 14 gallons of water – one gallon per person per day. Last week we focused on collecting and storing water, but water is heavy and sometimes difficult to collect and store in sufficient quantity. Therefore, you may choose to “top up” your two-week supply with “point-of-use” purification systems if you have ready access to a local source of water, e.g., a stream or river.

purifierFor example, many people think highly of Berkey purifiers. We have a Berkey at home; at dinner last night my adult daughter commented that we would do well to buy an extra filter or two.

The same high-grade filtration material is available in a portable purification bottle good for 250 gallons. You can choose from numerous portable models available; the costs have continued to drop over the years. Consider a simple hand-pump style, generally used for backpacking/mountaineering, and found at REI and similar retailers. Also take a look at what LifeStraw has to offer.

The Woodinville Water District offers a helpful little brochure, outlining different methods of purification: boiling, chlorination, distillation and fallout filter.

And here’s one more idea from my friend Robby: “to build a community ‘place of refuge,’ coordinate a volume purchase of bucket filters and filter bottles for your community.” Robby’s suggestion reminds us that, although disaster preparation is partly an individual exercise, it’s also something you can do in concert with your neighbors. (Later we’ll talk about great opportunities such as Map Your Neighborhood.)

See you next week!



Week 2

Obtain and store (up to) a two-week supply of bottled water.

AJ & Larry water storage w

February 8, 2017

By Darrell Dorr

A 14-day supply for one person is 14 gallons of water – one gallon per person per day. (Also include an extra gallon per three days for a medium-size pet; plan for more or less if your pet is very large or very small.) Some of the water in your emergency water supply will be used for cooking or washing. You can choose to obtain and store some of your supply, and then purify and filter a supplemental amount (see next week) if you have ready access to a local source.

If you buy commercially bottled water, it should be replaced once a year. Store your water in a cool, dark place to keep it fresh longer.

If you get your water from a private well, disinfect your tap water before bottling. Place six drops of bleach for each gallon of water, shake well, then let sit for 30 minutes. If you get your water from a municipal water system, there is no need to disinfect tap water before bottling. Replace your water supply every six months if you bottle your own water.

Always sanitize bottles before refilling them:

  1. Wash containers with dishwashing soap and rinse with water.
  2. Sanitize by washing a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water on all interior surfaces of the container.
  3. Let air-dry for at least one minute.

Use clear plastic bottles with tight sealing caps. Milk jugs don’t make good water storage containers: they don’t seal well, and it can be difficult to sanitize them adequately. Only use bottles that originally had beverages in them (2-liter soft drink bottles work well).

And how about options for storing larger quantities of water? You can buy space-efficient containers such as these from Walmart, or containers that roll, such as these. You can also choose to invest, as I have, in a barrel holding 50+ gallons of water, such as one of these.



Week 1

The new standard:  Enough water for 14 days.

By Darrell Dorr

February 1, 2017

OK, in January we began our plan for disaster preparedness and took our first steps. A great start! In February, following the outline from our friends at Do1Thing, we’re focusing on water collection, storage and purification.

How much water does your household consume in one day? One week? Two weeks?

Last October, in a story on the “Cascadia Rising” exercise in June, the Seattle Times reported, “The government’s ability to provide aid in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake is so limited that Washington state’s Emergency Management Division will now ask residents to stock enough resources to survive on their own for up to two weeks, instead of the three days it advised in the past.”

Two weeks? Fourteen days? If your normal water supply was cut off or contaminated for that long, how would your household cope? How much water will you need to collect, store or purify?

So let’s do the math, first for my household and then for yours. The rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person per day. In my household (my wife and myself, my adult daughter and her husband, and my two grand-children) we’ll need 1 gallon of water X 6 people X 14 days = 84 gallons. Wow: that’s a lot!

And what do the comparable numbers look like for you?

This week the first step is to do the math and come to grips with the quantity of water you need. Next week we’ll translate your math into a game plan for collection and storage.

VIDEO: How much water do you need?



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