Posts

Suburban Survival: Water Emergency Week Day 4

What could happen here in safe suburbia, really? Well… what if a flood, tornado, earthquake, blackout, ice storm or other emergency cut off your drinking water supply with no warning? And your huge legacy oak is blocking the escape route? Or if even the Suburban can’t navigate the quake-heaved streets?

After you’ve indulged in extreme self-hatred about your lack of preparedness, here’s where you can find drinking water around the home for a short term, quick supply.

1. The Toilet:Don’t make that face, this is an emergency! Not the bowl, dummy, that’s where you poop and where e-Coli lives. You can mine several gallons, though, from the tank. Filter it through a piece of cloth if it’s been awhile since that tank was cleaned. (You won’t be using your loo until service is restored; you can figure that one out for yourself.)

2. Hot Water Heater: A water bonanza of up to 70 gallons. To get at it, make sure gas and electric connections are off (and leave them off until service is restored). Put a large container under the water heater’s bottom drain and open the drain. Then, open a nearby sink faucet to release the pressure and start the flow.

3. Your Plumbing: The pipes are filled with residual water, and it’s just standin’ there doin’ nuthin’! Turn off the main water supply line to the house. Then open a water faucet at the highest point in your house to let air in. Next, open the faucet at your home’s lowest point–in the basement or downstairs–and let the water standing in the pipes drain via gravity into a container.

4. Ice cubes: As badly as you might want a cocktail, retrieve ice cubes from your freezer and put them into storage containers to melt.

Bad idea: Don’t pour yourself a chemical cocktail by drinking water from swimming pools or hot tubs.

Military Edition: Water Emergency Week Day 3

The “Greatest Generation” lived in a world of cans, not bottles. During World War II and for decades after, emergency water was provided in grey cans that were used by the military, as stock for civil defense shelters and for provisioning life boats. Some obvious disadvantages were weight and short shelf life due to corrosion and can materials leeching into the water. (Were can openers provided for life rafts?)

Collectors of all-kinds-of-random-stuff will appreciate knowing that these cans pop up with some regularity on ebay.

Makes those wasteful bottles look better, hey? Today’s military issue “emergency water” is packaged in 4 oz. flexible pouches which are easy to move in bulk and have a 5 year shelf life.

Not that the pouch has in any way replaced the bottle. Because pallet-loads of bottled water are expedient to package and ship in large quantities, the pouch is reserved for specific emergency situations, like a survival kit for a life raft. Bottles are movin’ out in this 2005 pic from slagheap on Flickr. Here, U.S. Navy Seabees organize bottled water for distribution in Biloxi, Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Emergencies, Disasters and Scary Times

Under the dire headline, California faces ‘grimmest water situation ever’ The Guardian (UK) includes the quote from a local farmer, “It’s an absolute emergency and anything to get water flowing quickly is needed.”

Emergency. When that word is used in conjunction with water, you know things are getting scary. Before Hurricane Katrina, there were few Americans who could ever conceive of an wide-scale emergency in which they would lack access to adequate drinking water. Then we watched as Louisiana and Mississippi water utilities failed in the face of broken pipes and the lack of electricity to run pumping and treatment facilities. Water everywhere, and not a drop to drink, literally.

What does it take, water-wise, to survive in a disaster? According to www.disasterstuff.com, you’ll need at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 2 weeks, preferably for a month.

The website points out this sobering example: if a moderate to major earthquake hit Los Angeles, California today, and only half of the population lost access to water for two weeks, the governement would need to bring in 25,863,740 gallons of water over the two week period just to provide subsistance water. Twenty-five million gallons of water just to survive. That is 1,847,410 gallons of water a day over roadways that will surely be damaged by the earthquake.

This site (and many others) sell just about everything you could imagine for surviving in a disaster. This includes drinking water in boxes and pouches as well as bags and jugs for transporting water. The 4.2 oz. pouches are $20.16 for a case of 100; 8.5 oz. boxed water is $2.09 for a 3-pack. All have a shelf life of approximately 5 years.

It’s the same idea, really, as bottled water but these sure don’t have the same chic-style branding of their bottled cousins!