Monday, May 18, 2015

Water Storage – Myth vs. Fact

This is the time of year most of the U.S. experience Summer. Water is most important in this season than in any other although, water is always important!
Myth #1: Water can expire
Water does not expire. Ever. Sure, water can become chemically or biologically contaminated and foul, but it doesn’t go bad or spoil.
What can happen to water is that it can go stale and look or taste bad. One thing you can do to make water that has been standing around for a while taste better is to aerate it by stirring it up or pouring it from one jug to another to introduce some oxygen.
If the cleanliness of the water is in question, it can be purified with purification tablets, fresh bleach, or a filtering system such as the Berkey or LifeStraw, among others.
Technically, if water is stored in a cool, dark area and away from chemical and toxic fumes, it should last forever.
Myth #2: Water can be stored in any old container that you find around the house
Water should be stored in a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container or in metallized bags. Traditionally, water storage barrels are blue. The reason for this is that the blue color limits light exposure and biological growth (bacteria and algae) and also signifies that what is stored in the container is safe for human consumption.
The safest containers to hold water in are polyethylene-based plastics, or plastics #1, #2, and #4. Most water barrels are made out of plastic #2 and are BPA-free. If you are in doubt, check with the manufacturer before making purchase, especially if the water is going to be used for drinking.
Don’t use milk jugs for water storage. Since milk jugs are biodegradable, they will break down over time. In addition, it is almost impossible to remove all of the milk sugars from the used jug, opening the risk of contamination.
On the other hand, repurposed soda or juice bottles (made from PETE plastic), make great water storage containers. Just be sure to rinse them well beforehand with a mild bleach solution. This will eliminate any soda or juice residue plus lingering odors.
Another good option for water storage is re-useable Nalgene bottles.
Myth #3: A water barrel is all you need to consider yourself water–prepared
This one is actually comical. I can just see you now: the flooding river is rising and you need to evacuate. Strap on your water barrel and your bug out bag and you are good to go. Not!
Depending on the number of people in your family and whether you have located or set aside a separate water source for hygiene and cleaning, 55 gallons is not going to last long. Conservatively, you are going to need one gallon of water per person per day.
It is always a good idea to have a portable water filter you can transport when you are on the go. In addition, rain barrels can be a great source of non-potable water for flushing and for use in the garden. Good sense dictates that you store water in various sized containers and plan for different situations such as bugging-out, sheltering-in-place, sanitation, and so on.
Myth #4: You can save space by stacking water barrels on top of each other
Most water barrels are not designed to be stacked. If space is limited, consider a stacking system designed to accommodate the weight of filled barrels.
Also, there are options other than barrels that can be stacked, these include water bricks, water in pouches, and even canned water.
Myth #5: Since I have a water purifier, I don’t need a water filter
According to the water specialists, water purifiers like Chlorine Dioxide will kill 99.9% of all microorganisms (like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses) in your water. Chlorine Dioxide is excellent for sheltering-in-place, and also great for treating water from your barrels or water you collect from streams or rivers while hiking.
Bleach is also a decent purified as long as it is fresh (less than a year old) and the unscented type.
Water purifiers alone will not remove dirt, silt, “gunk” and chemicals from your water. For these nasties, you need a filter. Using a purifier and filter together are an ideal combination to make sure your water is clean enough for drinking.
A Note About Storing Water Barrels
Did you know that water should not be stored on bare cement including the cement on the floor of your garage?
The reason for this is that plastics absorb flavors and odors from chemicals and liquids spilled on the floor and also from the chemicals used to create the concrete. What you need to do is store your water on a piece of wood that sits between the floor and the concrete. A repurposed wood pallet would be ideal, or just a square of plywood would work.
Actually this note could be called a ½ myth. Water should not be stored on cement that may be heated by sun or weather. It’s the heated cement that does it, but do you really know the temperature of your cement floor, wherever it is? Use a small barrier, but do it safely. Don’t try and balance 55 gallons of water!
Myth #6: I’ve got a pool out back for our water storage, so I don’t need to store any otherwise.
One who has this opinion is taking a big risk, one which I would not venture to take. It’s presuming that no animal waste, nuclear waste, or other biological poisoning will enter the pool water. Also, if there is a water shortage in your area, and your big pool is out there for all of the desperate folks to see, you’re simply begging for some dangerous self-defense scenarios. You might as well leave your car doors unlocked with your wallet on the front seat. In the event of a real emergency, I would ALWAYS recommend that families store water as well as presuming that their pool water supply will be available, thus preventing it from outdoor contaminates and ensuring that you have water to survive in the event of all possible scenarios.

Myth #7: Boil your water for 10 minutes in order for it to be safe.
Actually, you do not need to boil your water. Boiling the water is actually a waste of precious fuel. Water boils at 212 degrees. However, getting your water to a heat of 160 degrees for 30 minutes will kill all pathogens, and 185 degrees at for only 3 minutes. This is true even at a high altitude. (Note: My preferred way of heating water is in a solar oven. No fuel waste!)

Myth number 7 is always the one I get the most grief with. How long does it take to go from 185 degrees to 212 degrees, which is boiling? 1 minute? 3? I think your water will be fine at boiling. If you really want to trade fuel for peace of mind, then do so. I say if you’re really confident in the water bring it to a boil and use it. If you’re pretty sure it’s bad water, boil it for 1 minute. 1 minute is overkill but may give you the confidence you need to drink it.

Water is more precious than gold. Many western states are finding this out because they have no water. They have to buy it from those who do. If you were to overkill any part of your preparedness plan, I would pick water. Hungry people are is grave need, thirsty people are desperate. Remember the rule of threes,. You can last 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and three weeks without food.

Preparedness is essential. Water is the top resource. Make sure you are found lacking.

Semper Paratus
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