One of our big preparation weaknesses has been water. When we lived in the desert for awhile, I stocked up on 5 gallon jugs (that being the most we could fit in our cramped living quarters and vehicles).
Now that we're in a hurricane area I wanted to remedy the water situation and bring it up to par with the rest of our preps. Recently I added a "WaterBob," which is a 100 gallon container that goes in a bathtub to store clean water. I figure it will be excellent for things like severe storms where there is some advanced notice to get it filled up.
More recently I added 55 gallon drums. On Craig's List I found a local guy who sells them for around $20 each. He is a traveling salesman that sells drums full of syrups and food additives. The drums are food grade and he has no use for them once the contents are used up by his customers so he just wants to get rid of them. I picked up three... For the price it was hard to beat, and that's what would fit into my car for one load, so why not max out the buy?
I cleaned the drums out by rinsing them with a bleach solution overnight. Next they each got a box of baking soda and a few gallons of water to soak up any remaining odors. Finally, they got one more bleach solution and then a final rinse before being filled. We now have two full 55 gallon drums and one more empty one which is being used as a whoa post for dog training but could be filled up if necessary.
Ready.Gov suggests at least one gallon of water per person per day. I've done enough camping to know that one gallon per person per day is pretty spartan, especially in a hot climate. That will mostly be needed for drinking and cooking. If you want more water for sanitation then doubling that figure is not unrealistic. Water is also needed for pets.
Based on 100 gallons in the drums plus another 30 in various containers, I figure that our current water storage is good for about 65 person/days of moderate usage, which is a month for the two of us and around one or two weeks with guests or helping the neighbors. If we have sufficient warning to fill up the WaterBob and the spare drum then that basically doubles the supply. Then again, with lots of warning of a big hurricane I will probably leave the area and go stay in a hotel out of the path of the storm! With strict rationing, these figures could be doubled again.
So, while we don't have a full three month supply on hand we do have a credible month-plus supply of drinking water on hand, even if factoring in guests or helping neighbors. This water supply upgrade was a long time coming but definitely shores up our number one preparedness weakness. I'd still like to take a few more steps on this front. Specifically, I need a hand pump to more easily get water out of the drums (right now dependent on siphoning), I wouldn't mind a nice stationary water filter (although we have plenty of other ways to treat water), and a renewable supply like a rain barrel that collects off the roof would be cool. Still, this is definitely good progress and it was a very inexpensive project.
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