Water Conservation When Disaster Strikes: A Preparedness Guide

Water Conservation When Disaster Strikes: A Preparedness Guide

Human beings can survive up to three weeks without food. In contrast, a lack of water is fatal within three to four days. This grim fact makes water disaster preparedness vital.

Flooding, severe weather, earthquakes, and civil unrest can all interrupt public water delivery or introduce dangerous contaminates into your drinking supply. Private well water may also be affected by floods, chemical spills, or similar catastrophes. A carefully thought out water disaster preparedness plan saves lives.

Do Not Ration Water
This suggestion seems counterintuitive, as emergency food should be carefully rationed. Rationing water increases the risk if dehydration, however, which can quickly incapacitate even the healthiest individual — a risk you want to avoid during an emergency. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Dark colored urine
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Swollen tongue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Inability to sweat

As dehydration worsens, affected people may faint suffer from delirium, lose consciousness, or go into shock. Severe dehydration can be fatal, so if you’re thirsty, you should drink. This reinforces the most important aspect of water disaster preparedness—ensuring you store sufficient water before disaster strikes.

So how much water do you need? The average answer is one gallon of water per day, but this isn’t a hard and fast formula. Several factors can increase your daily water requirements:

  • Small children, the elderly, and the sick require more water to remain hydrated. Pregnant women also require extra water.
  • High temperatures and high humidity levels encourage sweating, so more water is required to stay hydrated.
  • Consider your activity level — if you’re clearing debris, stacking sandbags, or otherwise actively responding to a disaster you’ll need additional water.
  • Remember to factor in water for cooking.
  • How long do you expect to be without clean water? While the general rule is to store enough water for three days, disruptions in public water supplies could take weeks to resolve.

Storing Water
When disasters threaten, plastic water bottles quickly disappear from store shelves, but individual bottles of water are unsuitable for water disaster preparedness. They’re expensive, difficult to store, and their small serving sizes make them impractical for basic hygiene.

Proper water disaster preparedness will, by necessity, take up space—especially if you need to prepare for a long-term disruption of your water supply. Sturdy, BPA-free stackable square plastic containers designed for long-term storage are your best choice. Look for containers that meet FDA standards and have a reliable tight seal.

Filter before Storing
Properly filtered water can be stored for months without losing its taste. The same cannot be said for unfiltered tap water, which quickly becomes stale. A whole house filtration system is ideal for removing chemicals and contaminants before storing water. Less expensive countertop filters also work well, but avoid using built-in refrigerator water filters. The size of refrigerator filters limits their efficiency — not to mention the logistical difficulties of filling large containers from the fridge filter’s slow-flowing recessed delivery system.

A good water filtration system also helps combat more subtle threats than large scale disasters, such as the alarming increase of lead in drinking water across the USA. if you’re concerned about the quality of your drinking water, a filtration system is essential.

Cleaning Containers
Filtration does little good if your water storage containers are dirty. Before adding water, clean containers carefully. The CDC recommends cleaning water storage containers with dishwashing soap. Rinse well to remove all soapy residue, then mix 1 teaspoon of household bleach and a quart of water. swirl this solution inside the container, making sure it contacts all sides, then rinse again in clean water.

Water disaster preparedness takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. We can do without many things during an extended emergency. Water is not one of them.

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