Without water you’re not going to survive. It’s so important that, as a prepper, if you haven’t ensured an adequate supply of clean, drinkable water for yourself you might as well not bother doing anything else, either.
Lack of water will kill you quicker than just about anything else, except for lack of shelter. That makes it the top priority when you’re planning to survive a crisis – but unfortunately it’s also something many people overlook.
It’s easy to see why they overlook it; after all water is easily available. Just turn on the faucet and out it comes. It’s so simple that we tend to take water for granted. It’s always been available and it always will be, so why not focus on stockpiling food, medical supplies and guns instead?
Unfortunately water might not always be available.
We’re so used to it that getting clean water from the tap is a simple process we don’t even think about.
But before it gets to that convenient faucet in your kitchen, water from the public supply goes through a long, often complicated process – and that process is very vulnerable to being disrupted.
It just isn’t going to survive a social collapse, or even large-scale unrest, and if you want to live long enough to eat your stockpiled food you’re going to need to make sure you have your own water supply.
What Happens to the Water?
Even after a nuclear attack or serious disaster, the water supply to your home might keep flowing. It might not, of course – where water is pumped up from underground aquifers, if the power goes off or the computers are disrupted, the supply will shut down very quickly.
A lot of domestic water supply is basically gravity fed, though. If your town has a water tower, the pumps that get water up to it will soon stop working, but the water in the tower itself will be properly treated and safe to drink for as long as it lasts.
Of course, as people realize there’s a crisis and start filling every container they can get their hands on it isn’t going to last very long, and soon the pipes will run dry.
There’s another scenario, though. What if the power goes off, all the workers at the water plant run for the hills, but the water keeps flowing? Good news, right?
Well, maybe not.
The water coming out of your tap might look the same as it did before the crisis, but there’s no guarantee it’s safe to drink. Automated systems might keep running for a while, so it could be safe, but it almost certainly won’t be for long.
Domestic water supplies can be purified in a few different ways. Almost all involve filtering, and filters will keep working for a while.
Your tap water probably went through a very large filter, with layers of different material including gravel, sand and charcoal. There can be tons of material in these filters and it takes a while for them to clog up. That’s why the water will look the same – the filters will continue to strain out any debris or particles in the water.
What they won’t do is clear out bacteria, other microorganisms or harmful chemicals – the things that actually make contaminated water unsafe.
Water treatment plants can sterilize water with chemicals like chlorine, with ultraviolet light or by reverse osmosis – forcing water through a very fine membrane that can even filter out viruses.
Then they add chemicals called flocculants. These soak up any toxic chemicals in the water then settle out to the bottom, so the clean water can flow to your house.
Most of these processes need power; the others need supplies of chemicals.
When those run out the water might keep flowing from the filters to your house, but it hasn’t been made safe.
Different types of disaster can contaminate water in various ways.
Civil unrest often leads to fires, and if society breaks down you could end up with toxic soot landing in water sources and releasing toxic chemicals – which won’t get removed from the water.
A nuclear war would cause radioactive fallout, which could make the water dangerous for weeks. Broken sewers, dead bodies, volcanic gases; there’s an endless list of things that could contaminate water, so if disaster strikes that endless supply of safe, clean water you take for granted is over.
If you want to make sure the water you’re using for your and you family is safe to drink, it’s best to filter it yourself. You can learn here a cheap and easy way to create an ingenious rainwater harvesting and purification system capable of storing 165 gallons of water.
What About Other Sources?
Regular water supply will be the first source to disappear, but there are alternatives. If you have your own well, that won’t be affected in the same way. It could still end up being contaminated, though, so in a crisis you need to boil or chemically treat the water from it.
Be aware that this will kill bacteria, but it won’t do anything about toxic chemicals or fallout. Filtering through activated charcoal can help remove chemicals though, so either stock up on water filters or learn to make your own.
Water from lakes or streams is very exposed to contamination. Soot, chemical leaks or fallout can land in them; so can the bodies of animals or people. Depending on the kind of crisis you’re facing, water from these sources could be unsafe for weeks or months afterwards.
Of course there are huge stocks of bottled water in stores or warehouses around the country, and the more you can get your hands on the better.
You won’t be the only one with that idea, though; panic buying, and then looting, will wipe out those stockpiles very quickly. The only bottled water you can rely on is what you already have at home or in your BOL when a crisis hits.
And, really, that’s what it comes down to. Are you stockpiling enough water to get you through a crisis?
It’s easy to overlook, because it’s pretty boring compared to many of the other preps we can focus on, but water is the key to life.
We’ve all got used to having an unlimited supply of it at our fingertips, but when a crisis happens that ends immediately. We need to be prepared for that.
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