Exercise Five: Drink Up!

1 May

Small water bottles are great for hiding in tight spaces.

Let’s say you’re like me. You live in a small apartment with stuffed closets, stuffed cupboards, and no balcony…your storage space is a minimum…and you just found out that you’re supposed to be storing a gallon of water per day per person living with you. Ahh!

When I first started stockpiling water, I had no idea where to put it.  Have you heard the quote “necessity is the mother of invention?” It’s true! If you’re committed to storing water for survival, you WILL find places to put it.

With this in mind, here’s a plan for how you can get started with your water storage:

Decide how much water you want to store.

  • Since you’re new at this, set a goal for yourself: have three day’s worth of water stored by the end of this week.
  • Every time you meet a goal, set a new one. Try for a week’s worth of water, then a month, and so on.

Figure out what type of containers you will use to store your water. I like to diversify my storage as much as possible, so feel free to use several of these methods:

  • If you drink soda, you can clean, dry, and refill the empty 2-liter bottles. I describe how to do this in my previous post.
  • If you don’t drink soda (like me), you can buy containers that are meant specifically for water storage. I buy mine from Shelf Reliance because they’re reasonably priced and the company gives a portion of its profits to charity. You can fill these empty drums with tap water.
  • When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to buy gallons of water from the grocery store, or buy cases of bottled water. The benefit to these small bottles is that you can remove them from their cases and individually store them in very small spaces.

Treat your water before you fill your tanks.

  • Add one drop of bleach per cup of water after you fill your plastic storage containers. This will kill any microorganisms and keep your water safe while it’s being stored.  Water never expires, but microbial growth can make it unsafe to drink.  Don’t add bleach to water stored in metal containers, and never add scented bleach.
  • Don’t worry about this step if you’re buying commercially-sealed water. It’s safer to leave it unopened.

Figure out where you want to store your water .

  • One of my favorite ways to store water is in the freezer. It guarantees that microbes won’t grow, plus your freezer will be more efficient if it’s full. Lower power bills are always a good thing! This works best with 2-liter bottles and commercially-purchased water bottles. When filling your 2-liter bottles, leave a little head space to allow for expansion in the freezer — don’t fill them to overflowing as you normally would.
  • If you have a lot of bottles that are the same size, try this: Remove everything from the bottom of your closet. Line up the bottles in rows on the floor until you can’t fit any more in your closet, then lie a sturdy, flat piece of wood or plastic on top of the water bottles. Return your belongings to the closet, placing them on top of this “new floor.” You can fit a LOT of water into your apartment by making better use of your vertical storage space.
  • You can put your bed on risers and store water bottles or WaterBricks underneath. We’ll revisit this idea when we talk about food storage. You can use a bedskirt to attractively hide the extra space.
  • Fill a 30-gallon drum with water and cover it with a tablecloth. Instant endtable! I have one of these in my entryway and no one ever guesses that they’re walking past a month’s worth of water.
  • DO NOT store your water bottles anywhere that is exposed to sunlight….microbes and algae will flourish inside your containers. Ick!

In addition to your water storage, you need to have a few methods of purifying water, filtering water, and transporting water in case you need to evacuate. Remember, you may end up needing to leave your apartment, in which case you’ll need enough water to get you to your next shelter.  It’s most important to have your water storage first, then move on to collecting these extra supplies.

Chlorine or iodine tablets are popular ways of purifying water, but bleach works if that’s all you have on hand. Remember, multipurpose prepping supplies are your friends in small places! Keep a bottle of bleach handy, and use 16 drops per gallon of water to kill harmful bacteria. If you can, boil your water before adding purification tablets or bleach. Always let your water stand for at least 30 minutes after adding chemicals, and always follow the directions on the tablet packages.

As for water filters, you can buy commercial water filters in various ranges of price and portability. I like to have one large filter in my apartment and a smaller filter in my evacuation bag. A filter that attaches directly to your water bottle is good too. However, when you’re starting out, simply keeping coffee filters handy is a good, cheap way to remove large particles from your water. You can then use boiling and bleach to kill the bacteria.

Ways of transporting water also vary. Some backpacks come with water bladders that can be refilled, but I always worry about crushing the bladder between my back and my supplies.  I keep a variety of collapsible water containers handy, as well as a few rigid water bottles. In a pinch, you can take one of your 2-liter water bottles with you, so don’t worry too much about portable containers until you have a good start on your other preps. Remember, keep it simple at first! No need to get overwhelmed.

A few general tips:

  • To clean empty bottles, fill with water and put in a few drops of bleach. Let sit for 30 minutes and then empty and fill as usual.
  • DO NOT store your water on concrete floors without some sort of covering, such as plywood. Chemicals will leach from the concrete into the water and make it unsafe to drink.
  • DO NOT store your water in empty milk bottles! Harmful bacteria from the milk can leach out of the plastic and into the water.
  • Label your water storage very clearly with the words “DRINKING WATER.” Your thinking may be confused in an emergency and you don’t want to have to second-guess where things are stored.
  • Although it’s not essential, it’s not a bad idea to rotate your water every 6 months or so. This protects against microorganism growth.
  • When you remove your water from the containers, it may taste a little funny. This doesn’t mean the water has gone bad, it’s just flat. In other words, there’s not enough oxygen in the water and the taste has been affected. Restore the oxygen levels by pouring the water from one sterile container to another, and repeating several times.
  • Your gallon of water per day includes water for hygiene. If an emergency strikes but the city’s water is still flowing, quickly fill your bathtub with tap water. You can use this water to flush toilets, wash dishes, and clean your hands. Bathtub liners ensure that chemicals and detergents from the tub surfaces don’t leach into the water, but aren’t necessary if you only plan to flush toilets with the water.

Alright people! This was a long post but you’ll feel SO prepared after you start storing water. Remember, start small: aim for three days worth of stored water and you’ll have enough to survive most power outages and short-term local emergencies. Email me with questions!

Do you have any water stored yet? Where do you keep your water? 


2 Responses to “Exercise Five: Drink Up!”

  1. LP May 5, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Hey! Great idea on the freezer storage. There may be another benefit to that… microbes and other nasties won’t grow in ice!

    I like to store 2 gallons per person per day. But 1 is a good starting point. Your idea about pouring water from container to container is a good one. When we are under stress, if we can get some things back to a point approaching normal, something more familiar, that’s a good thing. Our diet – food and water quality – is certainly part of that. Restoring taste to water is fairly easy, so why not!

  2. Linda Sibio September 6, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    We have a couch with two recliners, so it has to be away from the wall. So we put a flat board on the floor between the couch and wall to keep the couch from sliding back towards the wall. It leaves plenty of room to store bottled water behind, and out of site.

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