Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter / Emergency Preps, Water

This probably should have been the first thing on the list.  We all know that we’d keel over in just a few days without water.  Regardless of how you normally get your drinking water – municipal water district, well with electric pump, rainwater collected in a cistern or a clear mountain spring – your source or quantity of water may be interrupted.  Yes, even you lucky ones with springs….natural or manmade disasters can disrupt your water source too. 
Do you have enough drinking water to last your family for several days?  It is generally suggested that you have one gallon of drinking water per person per day on hand.  This does not include  specail needs family members (nursing mothers or ones with medical conditions) additional hydration needs for those working in the heat, cooking or washing water, so you also have to take that into consideration.  I would assume that a three day supply would be the minimum you’d like to keep stored.  You can store water in clean, used soda bottles or even go fancy-pants like and buy some of those larger plastic containers at the “Purified Water” kiosks at the grocery store.  Just make sure that you change out your storage water every few months or it will get icky.  Not that you couldn’t drink it, but it will definitely taste “off”. 
Winter brings its own challenges here for obtaining water during a power outage.   Yes, we have a generator capable of running the well pump and even the hot water heater (hot showers are a godsend after several days of grumpy family sans electricity).  But it’s not the easiest thing to hook up.  And we probably wouldn’t even run it until the third or fourth day without electricity / running water. 
If storing enough drinking water for the human family weren’t enough, there is also the livestock to consider.  I’d guesstimate that our livestock drink at least 25 gallons of water a day; more in the summer.  And compared to other farmers that's not even a drop in the bucket - pun intended.  Fortunately for us, we have a relative about a mile up the road who has “city” water.  During the last ice storm we hauled water from there and would probably do the same, assuming the road was passable (it was impassable for almost two days last time). 
If we’re lucky enough to have a heads-up before a potentially nasty storm, here are a few water-related things we do:
Fill the bathtub with water.
Change out the storage water.
Fill extra water buckets for the animals (with the old storage water)
Fill utility buckets with water for flushing, dishwashing, cleaning
Do ALL the laundry & dishes.
Take a shower!
Don’t forget that if the temperature is below freezing outside you’re going to have to heat up water for the animals.  My prissy goats won’t drink really cold water.  Not that I blame them, but it’s a pain to keep warm water in their buckets when the temps don’t get above freezing even during the day.  I’d put one of those heated water buckets out there, but we don’t have electricity out to the barn and the little buggers would end up chewing through the cord & electrocuting themselves.   One year I took two cinder blocks (the hollow center ones) and stood them on their sides (the hollow sides facing up), dumped a bunch of coals inside & then put a metal water tub on top of it.  That worked well until the coals went out & the water froze.  It’s hard to get ice out of a metal container without eventually bending the container so badly that it no longer holds water.  We use the rubber water tubs now so I can just give them a good kick & the ice breaks up.  But I may use the metal tubs with the coals again in addition to the rubber ones.  The mule & mini-horse have electricity to their barn (and city water) so they are pretty well set even during bad weather.
So, what did I do today?  Go over my water storage & change it out?  Nope.  Went out to do some log splitting.  Technically part of the winter preps.  Gott'a keep warm! 
And baked a loaf of apple oatmeal bread.  I had to use up some of the applesauce we canned two years ago, so technically that is also part of prepping - Store what you Eat & Eat what you Store!

But right after I post this to the blog, I AM going to change the water.  Promise!

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