During National Survival Month, we encouraged readers to identify a task they hoped to accomplish. We were slammed with work that month and getting ready for vacation, so I picked an easy task that had been on my list – create a menu to be used during the first month of a serious emergency and gather the needed recipes.
As I began the menu project, Phil reminded me that we had purchased a one-month food supply kit from Augason Farms. This kit contained 48 small cans of dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients and came with a recipe booklet with more than 50 recipes. Wow! Menu task accomplished! Well, not quite. But close.
From that easily accomplished goal we decided that after returning from vacation we’d set aside a week during which we would make some of the recipes and get a more realistic idea of what it would be like to live off of our long-term storage food supply.
Our original plan was to eat nothing but food from our long-term food storage, with a focus on the Augason Farms kit. After putting off our one week of survival food experiment several times, we realized that our original plan needed some tweaking. We realized that maintaining our normal schedule of work and ministry activities meant that it wasn’t practical for us to only eat survival food for that week. In an emergency, these commitments would be radically altered. We weren’t willing to make those adjustments for our experiment. Still, we were able to accomplish our goals by eating most meals from our long-term food storage while allowing the restaurant or fast food option when our schedule demanded.
Yes, we know that we’re not practicing true survival. We’re not forcing ourselves into simulated hardship. Instead, we’re practicing with and sampling our survival food. I’m OK with that for this experiment. So what were our goals?
Our goals for the week are to:
- Taste the food. Do you remember the line from the movie Crocodile Dundee – “It tastes like crap, but you can live on it.” Were we going to be miserable eating what we’d bought? The Augason Farms kit has a wide variety of their staple products and recipes that could be made from them, so we’d be able to sample much of it. (And we’d have an idea of which foods we might want to purchase in larger quantities…and which we wouldn’t.)
- Practice preparing the food. It’s never a good idea to wait until five minutes before you really need something to start learning how to use it. We want to practice preparing the food before we absolutely need to use it. Our one-month food kit is not a case of prepared entrees. It’s an ingredient-based kit that allows you to mix and match items to make a lot of recipes. There’s a big difference between reading the contents on the box and figuring out what you could make with it.
- Evaluate what’s missing from our food storage plan. When we start living on survival food, what will we be craving that we don’t have? It might be fresh fruits and vegetables, or meat, or desserts, or salty snacks. But until we start using what we have stored, we won’t know what is lacking. We need to fill in the gaps now.
- Evaluate how much water we’d be using when cooking primarily dehydrated and freeze-dried food. (As it turns out, the kit clearly specifies that it takes 23 gallons of water to prepare all of the included food. That’s 23 gallons of water for one person for one month for just food preparation. What does that do to your estimate of how much water you want for every person to include drinking and washing?)
- Evaluate portion sizes. Would their claimed “makes 2 servings” really make 2 real world servings?
- Share our findings with you.
With all that as a backdrop, we finally picked a week to start – last week as a matter of fact. Here are our first lessons and impressions from our week of survival food testing:
- We have more food in our fridge at any given point than we realize. We were scheduled to begin sampling the survival food last week and immediately realized that we had enough food in our fridge that we needed to use before it spoiled to last us nearly a week. So the first five days were spent eating from our fridge with a little supplement from our pantry shelves. I was actually surprised at this because I don’t think of us having that much ready food on hand. I know we have a healthy-sized pantry, but didn’t realize that we had so much that needed to be eaten. I was really encouraged by this. I know that if an emergency takes out our fridge and freezer (which it likely would), that week would turn into “eat as much as you can in the next few days”. I’ll have more to share with others than I thought I would. (And no, we didn’t go out and do big shopping shortly before our survival food experiment was to begin. Quite the opposite. We had abstained from grocery shopping for about a week before that.)
- With our on-hand “need to eat” food, our one week of survival food experiment has turned into two weeks of survival food. We’re five days into it and we tasted our first survival food today. (Yes, we’ve tasted many other products in the past, but today was the first in this experiment.)
- There is a lot of variety in the Augason Farms one-month pack. You can do a lot with it. In addition to their recipe booklet, there are also recipes printed on each can’s label. Being who I am, I put them all into a spreadsheet and created a weeks’ worth of menus.
- Along with the variety, there’s also a lot of repetition in the Augason Farms recipes. Chicken noodle soup, chicken noodle casserole, and chicken noodle vegetable casserole sound a lot alike to me! Still, having just tasted my first variation of potato soup (creamy potato soup with corn and chicken), I’m embracing the variations. (More on that in our next blog.)
- I’m really looking forward to this!
Without trying to sound like a commercial, it seems like I should give more info about the Augason Farms one-month pack. This pack is advertised as providing almost 2,100 calories per day for one person for one month. Nutritional information is provided on each can. The only absolutely necessary ingredient that isn’t provided is water. Some of the recipes in the included recipe book include ingredients that you may not have available (sour cream or hard cheese, for example), but most do not.
The kit includes 21 different items in a total of 48 cans:
- Beef, Chicken, and Bacon TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- Cheesy broccoli soup mix
- Creamy potato soup mix
- Chicken noodle soup mix
- Southwest chili mix
- Broccoli (freeze dried)
- Corn (freeze dried)
- Potato dices (dehydrated)
- Potato gems (for mashed potatoes)
- Onions (chopped dehydrated)
- White rice
- Whole eggs (powdered)
- Creamy wheat cereal
- Buttermilk pancake mix
- Strawberries (freeze dried slices)
- Banana slices
- Milk (powdered)
- Chocolate milk (powdered)
- Orange delight drink mix
Have you ever seen the cooking competition show called Chopped on the Food Network? Chefs are given a basket with four ingredients. Some of them are normal ingredients, some are very abnormal. The challenge is to make a tasty meal using all four ingredients, plus whatever else they have available. This kit is like playing Chopped. What kind of culinary wonders can you create with these ingredients and what’s in your pantry?
These aren’t the jumbo #10 cans that you normally see for long-term storage food. Those big boys hold almost a gallon each. The food in this kit all comes in the smaller #2.5 cans which only hold about a quart. The smaller size makes it practical and affordable to sample a lot of products. Besides, the big #10 cans aren’t always your best choice for every type of food storage, as blogger The Survival Mom points out in this excellent article.
The regular price of the kit is $256.99 (with free shipping as of this writing), but it is occasionally on sale. We paid at least $60 less for each of the packs we’ve purchased. (We purchased three kits at different times, so the price of each pack varied.) If you’re just getting started with prepping, or you’ve looked at the huge one-year food kits that many food storage vendors offer and found them to be way out of your budget or your prep plans, this one-month kit might be just the ticket for you. It’s way more affordable, takes up way less space, lets you sample a lot of products, and could be good as a starter pack for you or as a gift for someone else whom you wish was better prepared.
At the regular price, assuming 3 meals/day for 30 days, the price per meal is less than $2.63. That seems pretty darn reasonable. At the prices we paid for our one-month packs, our cost went down to $2.18. And when the meals are stretched with rice or pasta, the price goes even lower. Of course one of our purposes in this experiment is to find the things we like most and purchase those items in larger cans at a better price. But considering the convenience of the smaller cans with menus provided, I’m a happy camper.
Assuming the food is good. Assuming it truly is 30 days’ worth of food. That story comes next…
In my previous National Preparedness Month blog, I encouraged you to review what preps you’ve made in the past year and consider strategic purchases to improve your preparedness position. Some of you know off the top of the head what your highest prepping priorities are, but for most of us, I’m guessing a more directed approach to evaluating your preps would be helpful. We’re here to help. Use the Preparedness Check and Challenge checklist below to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be.
There are more areas in which we need to prepare – communications, transportation, and medical, to name just a few. But our readers tend to be beginners in prepping, so we’ll stick with these basic topics for today’s blog.
We’re still working on every area (of course), but we’re making progress. My personal challenge for September is to complete a 3-day and a 1-month food plan with recipes. As I was writing this blog and explaining my alternate approach to evaluating my stored food, I realized that I can easily look at my pantry and evaluate if I have the necessary food to meet my immediate and short-term needs. Today, that is. That wouldn’t be the case in an emergency. You see, cooking is a weakness for me. Phil can grab ingredients and make good food. I can’t. I used to become paralyzed in video rental stores – there were just too many options. I also become paralyzed when faced with an immediate need to make food if I don’t have a plan.
So, by the end of September, I hope to have several written menus for the first three day s and first month of an emergency, and make sure that we keep all the ingredients on hand to make those meals. If we don’t have the ingredients in stock, the menu plan isn’t worth anything.
Let me urge you – spend a few minutes reading this brief checklist, then challenge yourself in one area. Set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish before the end of September (National Preparedness Month). That’s only two weeks away, so be reasonable about what you might be able to do, but don’t be too easy on yourself. The harder you work now, the easier you’ll have it when you need it.
- Recommendation: The government recommends 1 gallon per person (and pet) per day for drinking and cooking. We say more is better, but 1 gallon is a minimum place to start. Oh, and if you want to keep yourself and your things clean, plan on needing more water.
- How much water do you need/want to store:
____ (Number of people/pets) x ____ (number of days) x 1 gallon
- How much water do you have stored: ________
- What are you going to do to upgrade your water storage and/or purification capabilities?
- Recommendation: The average adult intake is about 2000 calories/day under normal conditions. In an emergency, you’re likely to be burning more calories than that, so if you can plan for 3000 calories/day, that’s a good thing.
- How much food do you want/need to store:
____ (Number of people) x ____ (number of days) x _____ (number of calories)
- How much food do you have stored: ________
- Don’t forget pets. If you have pets, how much do they eat each day? Multiply that by the number of days and you know how much pet food you need to have stored.
An Alternate Approach — Having just given you the formula, let me tell you that I don’t use the formula any more. I did at first, as I was developing my plan and understanding of long-term food storage. Now I take a different approach. I consider my preps in three stages: immediate, short-term and long-term. I approach my evaluation according to these three stages:
- Immediate: How many meals can I make with little or no preparation in the first 72 hours? My goal is 3 meals per day for 6 people. I can easily look at my pantry and determine if I am at that goal.
- Short-Term: How many meals can I make from my pantry with minimal dipping into my long-term storage food during the first month? My goal is 3 meals per day for 8 people, with some desserts added to help keep up morale. Again, I’m going to visually inspect my pantry to determine if my goal is met.
- Long-Term: How much long-term food do I have? Phil and I met our one-year plan for the two of us last year, so now we look at how many other people can we help.
- If the power grid is down, do you have the capability to cook the food you have? What key purchase would allow you to say “yes” in response to that question? Consider a propane camping stove (don’t forget to store some propane), an outdoor fire pit with grill, a rocket stove and/or a solar oven. (I have plans for a DIY solar oven that I can’t wait to try. Oh if there were just enough hours in the day!)
- Do you know how to cook the food you have with the cooking method(s) available?
- If for any reason your current shelter is no longer available, do you have a backup plan? Where will you go and how will you get there? What kind of challenges are you likely to face in getting there? What will you take with you? What do you need to be able to make the trip? How quickly can you be on the road?
- In a no-power-grid situation (whether it’s from a snow storm, a tornado, a hurricane, or a power-grid failure) do you have a plan to keep you family warm? Start with buying extra clothes and blankets. Add to it by developing an alternate heat source.
- Is your home an easy target for being broken into? What can you do to “harden” your home? (Think about things like upgrading your entry doors or planting thorny bushes under first floor windows.)
- Are you prepared to protect your family? What do you need to do to become more prepared and better trained?
- How’s your prepper notebook coming? Read more about it here. People tend to put off gathering important documents and creating a prepper notebook. If this is the one thing you do during National Preparedness Month, you will have done a good thing.
What’s your Preparedness Check and Challenge goal for this National Preparedness Month?
In just about every area of prepping, we like to use a three-layered approach, moving from simple and easily available preps to more serious long-term solutions. This approach keeps us from being overwhelmed by the enormity of purchases we need to make or knowledge and skills that we need to acquire. It also moves us forward in our preps in a logical and balanced way.
Our three-layered approach maps out like this:
- Preps for immediate use
- Preps for medium to long-term use
- Preps for when things really get bad
Preps for Immediate Use. Usually, the things that fall into the immediate use category are also the easiest to purchase and least expensive. For the most part, these first-level preps are the things that we are already using in our everyday lives. The only difference is that we have more of them on hand than what our current daily needs would require. For example, in the area of water, our immediate use water is store-bought bottled water. We use some bottled water on a routine basis, but we have a bit more than we really use stacked up under a work table in our basement for when special needs arise. You can easily build up this kind of water supply by purchasing a few cases when you go shopping over the next couple of months. We’re in the process of building up to about a week’s supply of water in bottled water.
In an emergency or any unusual situation, this first layer of prepping buys you time to evaluate and adjust to your situation before you have to begin living in a way that you are not so familiar with. In a true emergency, everything changes. Anything you can do to add normalcy to your life brings a level of calm to your world. Grabbing a bottle of water is something we do every day. Having extra bottled water stored away allows me to continue living as I have been while I figure out how to live in a new way — and I don’t have to run out and buy anything because I already have it on hand.
Preps for Medium to Long-term Use. This second level of preps are things that you don’t typically use every day under normal circumstances, but they can help you sustain a normal lifestyle when your normal lifestyle becomes disrupted for more than a few days. These types of prep generally require a bit of thought and planning to determine what your needs are and what your best approach is to meeting those needs, and they usually cost a little more than the things you buy for day-to-day use.
This is the level where prepping really starts to become an intentional lifestyle. Buying extra bottled water is a no-brainer for someone who typically uses bottled water as a convenience product, but this second level of prepping is where you start to acquire things that you won’t be using on a routine basis. These are things that you will have on hand in the event that you find yourself in a situation in which your normal way of life is disrupted and the stuff you keep in your cupboard isn’t enough to get you through it.
Sticking with water as our example, we have purchased a set of five-gallon, food-grade, stackable water containers that we fill and rotate regularly. We don’t drink from them during normal times. That’s not what we bought them for. These containers required a little more investment than the cases of water and it takes some time to fill them, but if we find ourselves in a second-level situation that requires more than just a couple of spare cases of bottled water to get us through it, we’ll be glad that we have this on hand ready to meet our hydration needs.
Preps for When Things Really Get Bad. Then there’s the third layer of preps – those we make for when things really get bad. Those preps are the ones that will sustain you for a longer time. In the area of water, we recently invested in a small, portable Katadyn water filtration device that can purify up to 13,000 gallons of water to safe drinking standards. We’re talking about water from a stream or pond or rain barrel. This device is about the size of a tall thermos jug and could be easily carried in a backpack. 13,000 gallons of drinking water is enough to meet our needs for a great long while. We have plans for installing a rain barrel system on our house this coming spring that will provide free water for watering our garden and could help supply drinking water in the event of a level-three emergency.
I Love It When I Get To Use My Preps!
We recently experienced a boil alert in our community. The city put up signs at intersections in our neighborhood that told us they were working on the water lines and that we would need to boil our water to make it safe for drinking. That was an understatement if there ever was one! The stuff coming out of our pipes (I’m not sure I’d call it water) was brown and nasty looking. How brown was it? Think strong iced tea. Yeah, that kind of brown. Phil left for work shortly after we learned of the alert and noticed the alarming color of the water coming out of our tap. That left me home to deal with living with no water.
Intrepid prepper that I’ve become, my first reaction was to wonder what in the world was I going to do for water over the next indefinite period of time. All of a sudden, I wanted water. I don’t drink nearly as much of it as I should on a regular basis, but knowing I couldn’t have any really increased my desire for it. I mean I couldn’t drink Diet Coke exclusively for the next few days, so what was I going to do? Tea was my next option, but the water was so yucky I really didn’t want to drink any of it even if I had boiled it! Boiling this stuff wasn’t really going to make it clean and safe — just hot.
Yeah, I’m still new at this. My prepper instincts didn’t kick in right away.
But it wasn’t long before my newly minted prepper training kicked in. I remembered those cases of bottled water we have stored under the work table in our basement. For the three days that our water was questionable, I had all the water I could ever want available in those cases of bottled water. And if it went longer than those three day, I could refill the bottles of water from our five-gallon jugs. And if we started to run low on that, we could refill the five-gallon containers with water from our Katadyn water filter.
I went from being a bit worried to totally confident we could take care of ourselves. No running out to the store hoping they still had bottled water on the shelves. No rationing here. (Obviously, in a true emergency there would be rationing.)
This short-term inconvenience allowed me to use some of my first-level preps in a real-life (albeit non-emergency) situation. And it reinforced one of the main reasons we prep – so that we can take the “emergency” out of the emergency. My emotional state changed from nervous to totally calm and even confident – simply because I had stored water.
In a true emergency, knowing that you have what you need to survive allows you to remain calm and puts you in a position to help others. That’s why we prep.
EDIT: This bundle is no longer available. It was a great deal, but the consortium of prepper authors who put this together were true to their word about this being a very limited time offer. They’re talking about some other products in the future. We’ll let you know of any worthwhile specials that we find.
We don’t do a lot of selling on this site. That’s not what we’re about. The purpose of this site is this:
- To inform people of the potential dangers we all face in these unstable days we live in
- To motivate people to take steps to prepare themselves for an emergency
- To educate people about what they can do to make those preparations
But sometimes the best way to accomplish one or more of those goals is to recommend a product. This is one of those times.
A group of preparedness authors have banded together to offer a package deal of their books and instructional materials at a discount so deep it’s too good to pass up. It’s only $29, but that price is only good until this coming Monday (September 23, 2013). I don’t know what the price will jump to then, but it is an absolute steal at this introductory price of $29. They say the retail value of the package is $700. I haven’t done the math, but a cursory glance at the wealth of materials will confirm that they’re darned close. I bought one for myself right away. It was a no-brainer. I got enough stuff in this bundle to keep me learning and prepping through the cold winter months to come.
The Ultimate Survival Bundle is a collection of downloadable books, videos, and audio presentations that covers most of the critical areas of emergency preparedness or survival. Included in the package are a couple of books that give a comprehensive treatment of preparedness and it is well worth the bundle price of $29 just to get those two books. They are Making the Best of Basics (edition 12.5) by James “Doctor Prepper” Stevens, which sells on Amazon for $28.99 (one cent less than this entire bundle); and The Untrained Housewife’s Guide to Getting Prepared (also sold on Amazon).
Topics covered by resources in the Ultimate Survival Bundle include food storage, gardening, alternative energy, security, homesteading, medical preparedness, raising animals, and ethical issues. A total of 46 resources from 36 different authors. Some are very broad while others are highly specialized. Here are some examples:
- A 150-page book on dehydrating food, written by the author of a book on the same topic for the “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series that you’ve seen in bookstores
- A 101-page guide to herbal medicines, which sells for $29.67 on Amazon (I’ve looked up all of these Amazon prices myself to get a sense of the value of this package)
- A 266-page book about wind power from a consumer’s point of view
- A 106-page book on “apartment gardening” – growing your own food in limited spaces
- A book on solar energy that sells for $19 on Amazon
- A 40-page booklet on how to build a fire
- A 228-page book on raising goats
- A 62-page book on building and living in a yurt (after browsing this bad boy I am really wanting to get me a yurt!)
Click on this link to go to a page that gives details about all of the many products included in this package.
Besides books, there are also a few videos that you can download. Two of them are instructions on how to build a greenhouse, companion videos to a book on that topic that is also a part of the package. These video files are very large and will take a while to download. One is two hours long (2 gigabyte file size) and the second in a little over an hour long (1 gigabyte). Another video is a half-hour presentation on hand-to-hand self-defense techniques.
I could go on, but I’m going to try to contain my enthusiasm. The bottom line is that if there’s not something in the Ultimate Survival Bundle that gets your juices flowing, you’re not a prepper. At $29, this is one of the biggest bangs for the buck that I’ve encountered in a very long time. I can blow that much on pizza in a week. This is a deal that will give me something to chew on for much longer than that. When you’re ready to order, click here. Get it while you can get it cheap.
Clean water may not be available in an emergency. Storing water now assures your survival because people can only live a few days without pure, clean water for drinking, cooking and hygiene. Knowing how much to store is the first step. You’ll find the answer here. But knowing how much to store and actually storing it are two different things.
An easy way to get started is by making a commitment to keeping a couple of cases of bottled water in your house. It may only be enough to last you a couple of days, but it’s to purchase and it’s easy to use. It’s something you can probably do within the next week. Making the commitment to have extra bottled water on hand
According to the FDAs website:
Bottled water is considered to have an indefinite safety shelf life if it is produced in accordance with CGMP and quality standard regulations and is stored in an unopened, properly sealed container. Therefore, FDA does not require an expiration date for bottled water. However, long-term storage of bottled water may result in aesthetic defects, such as off-odor and taste. Bottlers may voluntarily put expiration dates on their labels. (www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/product-specificinformation/bottledwatercarbonatedsoftdrinks/ucm077079.htm)
So you really can consider your bottled water a part of your water storage plan. But somehow I don’t feel as good about it as I do my true long-term storage water. So I am more diligent about rotating my supply of bottled water. I don’t drink a lot of bottled water. (Phil and I have done blind taste tests and found that we like tap water as our favorite most of the time!) But I keep several cases on hand and every now and then grab a bottle as I’m leaving the house. That causes a natural attrition to my stored water and as one case gets about half empty I buy another. Easy-peasy start to any water storage plan.
Long-Term Water Storage
What do I store it in? For true long-term water storage, the best option is to food-grade quality containers that have been made for storing water. (OK, I admit it – until a year ago I didn’t know they had such things!) Phil did some research and price checking and we bought ours from TheReadyStore.com.
Prepper Tip 1: Be sure to buy spigots for your containers. They come with screw-top lids, but they don’t come with spigots that make it easy to dispense the water. They only cost a couple of bucks each and you don’t have to have one for every container. Just one for every container that you’re currently serving from and maybe one or two as back-up units. We didn’t think to add them to our container order and then had to pay separate shipping costs for the spigots. I learned the value of having a spigot when we had a water outage during Super Storm Sandy. Phil was out of town, and I stared at stacks of 5-gallon containers of water with no easy access to their contents. Needless to say I was thankful for my bottled water collection for those couple of days.
Prepper Tip 2: Phil added this tip when he edited my article about how much water to store – “Large water barrels and tanks are great, but for the sake of mobility, a 5-gallon container is the largest size that most people can move or carry without excessive strain.” You can buy water storage drums and tanks of varying sizes. The Ready Store has tanks up to 500 gallons (if you want to shell out almost $1,300 for one). That’s a lot of water, but you aren’t ever going to be able to move it.
How do I store water? Our containers came with instructions about how to prepare them for use, which was really nice simply because it meant we didn’t have to find that info (even though it’s all over the internet). Basically, you’ll want to wash, sanitize and rinse the containers with warm soapy water and unscented bleach.
- Wash the container with the warm soapy water, rinse it thoroughly – you’re done.
- Sanitize the container by adding 1 teaspoon of liquid bleach to 1 quart of water. Pour it in, shake the container vigorously, let it sit for a minute or so, then empty the container.
- Either let the container air dry or rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
Fill the containers and LABEL them. Be sure to put either the date you filled them or the “expiration date” (or both). That takes us back to our discussion from the FDA. Technically, water doesn’t have an expiration date. But everybody seems to say that you should rotate your water every 6 months. OK. I’ll repeat what the experts say and I’ll even try to follow that rule. But if my water was older than 6 months, I’d still drink it in an emergency. (Don’t tell anyone I said that, OK?) I’d probably purify it first. (See below.)
Prepper Tip 3: Store unscented liquid bleach near your water to use in purifying it if necessary.
Where do I store water? A cool dry place. Think basement. It’s not so much for the sake of the water as it is for the protection of the plastic container that the water is kept in.
Other storage options: If buying containers is out of your price range, you can store water in any food-grade plastic container (like 2-liter soda bottles) that can be sealed. If you are using containers not purchased for the purpose of storing water, be sure the containers you use:
- Can be tightly sealed.
- Are not made of glass (they break too easily and they’re too heavy).
- Have never held a toxic substance (if you’re not sure, don’t use it).
- Are not milk cartons or bottles (they’re too difficult to get clean and they may not seal tightly).
- Do not have a #7 recycling symbol (these bottles are made with polycarbonate plastics and should not be used for water storage).
- Are not used pre-packaged water bottles (these bottles are made for one-time use).
In the realm of prepping, storing water is not only the most important, but also the easiest and least expensive part of your emergency preparations. Set aside a few dollars and a few hours and you’ll be able to store enough water for you and your family for most emergencies you’ll face. In the future, we’ll blog about more intense water storage, but this will get you started.
Click here for an article on finding water in and around your house.
Because I’ve always been a city girl, the concept of drinking directly from a stream has never held any appeal. In fact, I’ve always been a bit amazed at those scenes in old westerns where the grizzly men dunk their faces in the stream and take deep, refreshing swallows of crisp, clean water. I’m from a generation and lifestyle that I can’t imagine the water being crisp and clean enough for me to want to drink it. That’s probably a good thing because there are few (if any) places where that’s a safe practice these days.
I’ve always had the luxury of getting clean water from a faucet. Should the world change suddenly, that may no longer be the case. That makes it important to store water for that time, and to know how to collect water and then how to purify it. How to purify water is where this blog comes in.
There are basically two methods for purifying water: boiling and adding bleach. (Yes, I had to get over the idea of drinking bleach.) If the water is cloudy, it should be filtered before using either method.
Always filter water that is cloudy before you purify it either by boiling or by adding bleach. Filter water by pouring it through coffee filters, paper towels, cheese cloth or some similar item. Prepper Tip: Coffee filters are great for lots of things and should definitely be on your prepper supplies lists.
Purifying Water by Boiling
Boiling is the safest way to purify water. If you have the ability to use this method, use it. However, don’t assume that you will be able to boil water. Be prepared for boiling or using bleach (as described below).
- Bring the water to a rolling boil and maintain it for one minute.
- Let the water cool before drinking.
Purifying Water by Adding Liquid Chlorine Bleach
- Use liquid household bleach that has no perfumes, dyes or other additives. It should be between 5% and 6% chlorine.
- Place the water in a clean container.
- If the water is clear, add 3 drops of liquid chlorine bleach for one quart of water or 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) for a gallon of water. (There are likely to be instructions on the chlorine bleach bottle that you can follow.
- If the water is cloudy (even after filtering), use 5 drops for one quart or 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) for a gallon of water.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Let the water stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking. If the water is cloudy or very cold, let it stand for 60 minutes.
- If the water doesn’t have a slight chlorine smell, repeat the process. If the water doesn’t have a slight chlorine smell after repeating the process you should probably find a new source of water. The water you’re using may not be safe enough to drink even after purifying it.
Prepper Tip: To make the water taste better, you can pour it back and forth between two containers a couple of times. Or you might want to add a little flavor to it. Tang is a good prepper supply, but you can experiment with adding some of your dried fruits.
There are other methods for filtering and purifying water, but these are the easiest. We’ll write about other methods in future blogs. In the meantime, if you’re into more intense survival water purification, check out this blog.
As many of us learned in the eighties, we humans might be described as “ugly, ugly bags of mostly water” (from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Home Soil” which aired on February 22, 1988 — Stardate: 41463.9). (Watch a replay of the moment here.) With that being the case, water is critical to our survival. Without it, a person will die in less than a week – typically three to five days. When our bodies don’t receive the fluids they need, our cells and organs quickly begin to deteriorate. (There’s a reason nurses often begin IV fluids immediately when patients arrive in the Emergency Room.)
In an emergency, clean water can be hard to come by. That means storing water now is where the water you’ll need then is going to come from. In addition to needing it for drinking, you’ll need it for food preparation and to keep yourself and everything you use clean. According to U.S. government sources, you probably use about 100 gallons of water a day in your everyday life! That’s a lot of water. It’s heavy and it takes up a lot of space. Imagine 100 one-gallon milk jugs stacked side by side! That’s how much water the typical person uses in one day!
Having said that, the government recommends (and you’ll find that most prepper sites agree) that you should store one gallon of water per person (and pet) per day. Plan on more if you live in a hot climate or are pregnant or sick…or if you want water for more than the barest minimum use. One gallon per day will be the minimum for drinking and food preparation only. It won’t include a hot shower or bath and it won’t include much washing of dishes or clothes.
The government recommends that you maintain a 3-day water supply in storage. Here at The Approaching Day, we’re not doctors or experts in much of anything, but we’re not at all comfortable with that minimal level of water storage. In any of our scenarios, a 3-day supply isn’t nearly enough water for us to feel prepared. We started with 45 gallons — nine 5-gallon storage containers. (Prepper tip: Large water barrels and tanks are great, but for the sake of mobility, a 5-gallon container is the largest size that most people can carry without excessive strain.) We’ve supplemented our initial water supply by typically having another five to ten gallons of bottled water on hand at any given point in time. According to the one gallon per person per day guideline, that’s about 25 days. We figure it’s closer to only 18 days of real usage. That’s still not enough stored water for us to feel comfortable — we’re building up to a greater supply. But it’s a start.
You can base the amount of water you store on the scenario you are prepping for and how that event will impact the water supply. Use the following formula to calculate the amount of water you need/want to store: (water storage calculation.jpg)
As I said in the first paragraph, our bodies are largely made up of water (weird, isn’t it?). With that being the case, it’s important not to risk getting dehydrated. Drink at least two quarts of water a day. If you’re in a hot climate, pregnant, or sick, drink even more. When the need arises, work on getting more water, but drink what you have on a regular basis or you’ll quickly become physically unable to get more.
Click here for instructions on storing water.
Click here for an article on finding water in and around your house.
Click here for an article on purifying water.