Ten Principles of Preparedness: #7 Water

I admit I worry about the preparedness status of others far too much. However, if there was one aspect that I worry about the most, it would be the lack of proper Water Preparedness.  As I review all of the questions that I’m asked via e-mail and my classes, the theme of Water Preparedness seems to be the most rife with fallacies and underestimated planning.  So for starters allow me to be unmistakable on this principle: There will come a day in which you will be very grateful that you have 365 gallons of COVERED drinking water per person in your family. Yes, I know that’s a lot—but compared to what?  Having 40 pairs of shoes is a lot too, but for some reason it’s a bit more acceptable in our society today, even enviable, than having water. That kind of acceptance and prioritization is a little out of whack, don’t you think, considering that water is literally lifesaving on several different levels—shoes, uh, not so much. Yes, I realize that 365 gallons of water per person isn’t exactly an aesthetically pleasing improvement to your land, it’s a lot easier to tolerate than dead bodies. While it’s not an activity that you take care of overnight necessarily, it should certainly be your initial goal in this particular principle of preparedness and here are some of the reason why it’s so vital to the well-being of you, your family AND your community. One: The brain simply cannot function without it. Your brain is the most water-ladened part of your body.  The distribution of messages and signals to the rest of your body relies primarily on the amount on oxygen and water that your brain has to work with. (Think of your brain as the car in a courier service—it’s not going anywhere without the fuel.)  In a time of great stress, you will need every physical asset you can possibly muster, thus having water for the brain is an invaluable investment of your time and space. Here’s an interesting tip. The next time you have to endure a grueling mental or physical exercise, instead of grabbing your can of caffeinated beverage to “get you through”, give water a try. You’ll actually find that you are able to endure the distance of the task far better than you have in the past with your other chemicals of choice, and you’ll find that you’ll recover from the endurance test a lot faster as well. Two: Water for the proper function of the entire body will prevent permanent physical damage to internal organs. You may have heard the too-often told myth that claims a person will die if they don’t have water for longer than 72 hours. This is indeed a myth though, as was proven during the Haiti earthquake of last year. A man was found among the rubble, very much alive, 11 days after the earthquake hit. No, he didn’t have any water during that time.  While he was still very much alive, the fact of the matter is that your body will suffer physiological damage if without water for more than 72 hours.  So sure, he was alive and able to join some of his family members, but I assure you, that lucky survivor also has permanent kidney or liver damage to show for it. Your heart will pump smoother, your skin will look smoother and softer, your eyesight improve, and your metabolism will work harder in a well hydrated body. So if the thought of potential gloom and doom motivation doesn't get you on the water bandwagon, at least permit some vain motivation to play a role. *grin* By the way, the word is WATER, not beverage.  A soda pop or Kool-aid drink does not replace water in any way, shape or form.  It requires so much more energy from your body to extract any beneficial water from such beverages to the point that you’re in a negative nutrition position.  And yes, if you continue in this pattern then physiological damage will take place. The brain has first shot at all of the water you provide the body.  The reason being is because the cells of the brain must be hydrated in order to function. If they dry out, then they die, period, and cannot be replaced. What’s gone is gone. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are drying agents in your body.  They consume copious amounts of water in order to be shuttled to the proper areas of the body. In other words, they rob your body of water.  This is why when a person has drunk alcohol heavily the night before they will wake up with the proverbial hangover. That hangover is your head screaming for water. So the last thing you should be feeding your body to take the edge off is caffeine or nicotine .  All you’ll end up doing is increasing the glycogen levels in your body and then you’re off to a completely different set of complications. Three: Our bodies expire two quarts of water per day via urination, perspiration, and breathing. You’re losing the necessary water content of your body at the rate of two whole quarts per day. If you’re not at least replacing those two quarts then your body will suffer physiological damage as well and if such habits persist, then such damage will be permanent. A lot of my research on water over this past year has even indicated that many mental illnesses can be helped dramatically with the constant consumption of water and that many of such illnesses are simply the consequences of a poorly hydrated body.  In fact, there’s one well-known author by the name of Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, MD, who has successfully studied the impact of water consumption as a remedy for chronic depression and even cancer.  If we practice diligently hydrating our bodies now, then even when a serious crisis comes our way in the future, we’ll be able to endure it far better if we’re not starting out with a water deficit in our body. At the very least everyone age 12 and up should be drinking at least two quarts of pure and simple water per day, just to stay on top of the needs of our bodies. Anything less is like running that same quart of oil through the engine again and again and again.  Why BE a filter when you can make it so much easier on yourself and drink your water? Four: Water is vital to hormone balanceDepression, diabetes, ovulation, thyroid issues—all are complicated when the hormones are out of balance. Without water, it’s absolutely impossible for our hormones to regain their proper balance. For example, if the brain doesn’t get sufficient amount of water, it will instead demand glycogen and spike the sugar levels of our blood. Insulin is a hormone and it’s a very influential hormone. It hasn’t a chance at working properly in a dehydrated body. There’s not a day in your life in which you couldn’t benefit from a more healthy hormonal function. During a crisis is definitely not the time I would suggest experimenting with that fact. Five: Water is critical to proper digestion. While there are many who believe food may be more important than water, such persons will re-think that strategy once they find themselves in gripping abdominal pain as the result of their sudden change in lifestyle full of  fiber-rich meals.  There are many of you who are planning on indulging in more hearty fiber and freeze-dried and dehydrated foods when things get really bad.  That’s great, except you’re going to need to hydrate your body even more than just the 2 quarts a day to compensate for that change unless you want to literally die as a result of that change in diet. Nothing moves in your body without water. Not the food, not your blood, not even air. You might as well try to live a life without love as to try and make a body work without it--and lots of it! Six: Having sufficient COVERED drinking water on hand is the only way to prepare against potential biological exposure which threatens to harm all open water sources; and depending on the intensity thereof, even the in-ground water sources. Preparing to meet ones needs with an open water source really isn’t preparing; it’s hedging and hoping. These are just a few of the reason to have plenty of water on hand for each person in your household. If you’re only storing one gallon of water per person per day, keep in mind that just to break even in our physiological functions we need to consume two quarts daily; so you can see how 1 gallon per person, per day,  is barely a “drop in the bucket” of the potential needs. In addition to this gallon of drinking water (which may also meet the majority of your cooking needs), there is also the water necessary for sanitation. I won't get into the gruesome details, but regardless of how "hard core macho" you think you are, it's imperative that you bathe regularly and you wash your clothes regularly--not to mention the handling of the waste. When your body perspires, it's doing so by shooting toxins out of your pores. So basking in those toxins for weeks at a time isn't exactly going to make  you suitable to be on the cover of Fit Magazine.  One person practicing poor sanitation has the potential to wipe out an entire community within a 50 mile radius in less than 30 days.  Again, those blue 55 gallon barrels may not look like much, but they are a heck of a lot easier to tolerate than piles of dead bodies. Additionally, I realize that paying $40-$100 for such containers may not sound like a good investment, but by comparison did you ever consider the price of a medical procedure that promised to make the pain go away, help the body function better or preserve a person’s life?  I didn’t think so. Yeah, tally the difference between a life without water and the financial demands of having plenty on hand. I think you'll easily see that it's a no-brainer. So how about we get our necessary water, practice proper storage methods,  AND faithfully use it now  in our daily lives and keep it in its  proper perspective and start giving it the attention it deserves. Obviously, there are myriads of other ways to store water such as in buried tanks in the back yard, one 2-liter bottle at a time, etc. etc.  I only beg you to be wise about such methods.  Be sure that you can stake your life on the WAY that your store your water and the AMOUNT of the water you store, because I assure you, someday that’s exactly what will be at stake.  

Reference: Ten Principles of Preparedness




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Ok so how is a good way to store it? I was told it needs to be changed out ever 6 months? And when you have big drums of water that's a lot of water to change out.. I was also told to put 2caps of Clorox in a drum roll it around so all of the in side is covered and dump it out. and what is left in side is good enough to take care of the water. So how far off is that? HELP!! I am pretty good one other things but water is my down fall.. Please help!

Holly, when this article is finished with the pictures and links to other articles you'll see your answers easily, however, in the meantime I suggest you search "water blogged" on the search bar to find your answers.

As usual...lots to think about...I have a pond...which you say can be contaminated...I'm digging a well which I thought would be a good solution...but now I'm not so sure...I have a few rain barrels/water barrels...but not NEARLY enough for 365 gallons per person....Hmmmmmm!

You can cover the well which will help, but you'll still need to make sure you don't keep all your eggs in the one basket, Dear.

We went to a seminar and a preparedness pro taught us to store barrels of water to be changed out every six months but he also added that we should get the pure chlorine (the stuff you get at the pool supply store) as well as a test kit so that you can purify your water when you have to get more from another source. My question is would chlorine purify your water in the chance of a nuclear attack?

Tina, that's absolute baloney. You do NOT need to change them out every 6 months. Try every couple of years at the most. Chlorine will do very little to help against radioactive poisoning, if not make it worse.

Excellent article. I concur with your assessment for water storage. For people living in the city and who have a small backyard, maybe burying a cistern in the ground might be a solution. But, then you will need some kind of pump to get the water up to the surface. Also, if you know how often it rains, it seems that maybe you only need to store enough water to get you to the next rainy downpour which will allow you to refill your containers.

One more comment. In light of all of the tornadoes, have you installed a storm cellar in your house? I am thinking about purchasing a steel safe room that is 4 ft by 6 ft that will fit in my garage. They sell these out of Tulsa, OK. The steel is 1/4 inch thick and it is bolted 10 inches deep into your garage cement slab.

Thanks for the information on the water. I definitely have much work to do in this area....

As Kellene mentions, do not put all your eggs in one basket (or all your water in one barrel). Having several hundred gallons covered and ready to use is wise, but KNOWING (PoP #2) how to purify water to supplement your storage and replenish is also key. There are several commercial purifiers available, and of course good old distilling (boil/evap/condense/filter) works great. If you are going to use purification as a means to obtain clean water, please be sure to have a water source to purify, those who mention ponds or well water have it covered. SureWater is my favorite barrel storage, and Katadyn makes several varieties of filters.

@Tina: Distillation and reverse osmosis (RO) would be effective ways to purify water that is contaminated by radioactive particles.

Kellene, Thanks for the "why we need water" slant on this principle, great approach and very informative.

Wayne, is RO possible without power? I'm not familiar with any such option.

@Kellene, RO does require pressure on the "dirty" water side, I bet your hubby could build a hand pump that would provide necessary pressure without electric power. Any positive displacement pump that can produce above 40 psi should do the trick. I will have to put this on my "build" list and see what I can come up with.

I'd LOVE to have one of those large SureWater tanks, but the shipping!! I live in the Ohio River Valley. It's cheaper for us to get the 55 gallon barrels at Sam's Club.

What a great article! I have my work cut out for me but I'm up to the challenge. Thanks again for all of your research.

After the earthquake in Japan and I was wrestling with the problem of where to to store it so I could have water on every level of my house and I realized the 5 gallon jugs fit under the sinks in my bathroom. I thought that was really convenient since bathrooms are close to bedrooms and it utilized an under used area in my house. It's easier to change out and great to know I some easily accessible. Our guest bathroom doesn't have a big cabinet, so I stuck it in the shower and closed the curtain. Yes our guests will have to shower with a water jug but that doesn't happen often and I feel a little better knowing I have more water stored.
I would love to hear others ideas on where to store all of this water...

Heidi, if you do a search on "water storage" on this blog you'll find plenty of help on that matter here.

I have a lot of stackable 5 gallon jugs (as at my age I can handle those) I would like to be able to keep some large 55 gallon ones, but the will have to be kept in my garage.......where they will freeze in the winter.....I am at a loss as what to do. I will keep re-ordering more 5 gallon stackables and I keep them along the side's of my livingroom etc....my house is small,actually a cabin. I have talked about this with my best friend......(like an adopted son)....I overlook a large creek, and my friend says in an emergency he would be right up here.....well he could go and get water from the creek (depending on contamination)....I now have a Berkey Filter,so great! But what if it is a EMP attack....he will not be able to get here......does anyone else live in a real cold climate? I would love to hear any solutions.....Please PS It can get down to 55 below here!

Razr, you can put them in the garage so long as they are the good quality, thick barrels and you do not fill them all the way up...leave about 4-6 inches. If it really does get that cold regularly then I would also insulate them with blankets around them as well. There's always a way to prepare.

Is it ok to store my blue barrels on the cement floor of my garage or do I have to put down some wood or something? Thanks

having 8 children, my husband and me to think about for water storage it has been one of the overwhelming things to think about. Not the short term but the long term has definatly been a stumbling block for me. Thank you for putting ideas with your posts. It is helpful to see other ideas. I never thought about putting tank in the ground. Thanks again

Just wanted to share with someone who would appreciate it that I am now the proud owner of one 275-gallon water cube. I had previously only had a 36-pack of bottled water and 3 15-gallon (small) barrels with bung lids. I got all 4 of the larger barrels from one guy I found on Craigslist. The 275-gal was $90 and the 15-gal ones were $11 each. That's a start... now to go fill it!

I have a question~~
I have 30 acres in extreme rural north. (50 mi to even find a walmart!)
On our property we have well water, and a spring fed pond, that said i
don't worry to much about water storage, but have been receiving a lot of flack for it. I do have a 2 wk supply and a hand pump (and i KNOW how to install it on our well!!)
So i would just like some more input from a Pro if you have time! Or anyone elses ideas are welcome too!!


I have read your blog on water, the comments and your reply's. I am just asking where do you get your resource of not changing your water in the 55 gal barrels 6 months to year? I have looked at several qualified sites such as American Red Cross and the water district of my area. They do say use bleach with only the active ingredient of hypochlorite 6%-5.25% . Change water 6 or 12 months a year. Thank you

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