Listening to the radio on the way into work this morning I learned that hundreds of thousands of people in southern Prince George’s County in Maryland will be without water for “days.”
How many days? The official speaking on the radio would not say.
It would be difficult to come up with a worse time to deprive hundreds of thousands of people of life-giving water. Today’s heat index is expected to hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit! Similar heat indices are expected throughout the remaining week.
According to the report, the problem is found in a “Fifty four inch main that is without redundancy.” Monitors indicate that the main is going to blow. It is believed by the water provider that allowing the main to blow and then performing the repair would mean the end user would be without water even longer and that the repair would be more expensive.
How many of the people who will be affected by this water emergency will hear this warning? How many of those who do hear it will do so in time to act before the water is cut off and what little water is available in stores is gone?
What should they do to prepare for a water emergency that will certainly last for days?
In heat like this each person needs two gallons of water per day. Having two gallons will provide at least a gallon for drinking and a little water for personal washing.
The official in the interview said that the water emergency would last for, “days.” He would not elaborate further. Does that mean two days, five days, or thirty days?
Let us suppose for the moment that the water emergency may go on for a as little as a week. Let us also suppose that we are planning for a family of four. Each person will need two gallons of water per day. Remember this only allows for drinking, cooking, and some personal washing. Never mind flushing the toilet, bathing, or washing clothes or dishes!
Based on the bare minimum of two gallons per day, a family of four will require at least eight gallons of water per day. Just to provide drinking water for a family of four for one week you must set aside fifty six gallons of water – or just a little more than one fifty five gallon drum full of water. That will get you through ONE WEEK!
Unless of course you have friends and family who are in need and come to you for help…
What will you do then?
If you are selfish you will turn them away. If you are a little more thoughtful you will prepare something extra for those who may come begging when they realize that you have resources that they do not.
If you are the thoughtful type you may well need to set aside twice what your family needs to offset the suffering of others!
Storing water takes up a great deal of space – especially if you are the kind of person who thinks that buying cases upon cases of individual bottles in smart.
Consider storing water in food-grade fifty five gallon drums. It will take up much less space! The up-front cost of buying food-grade drums can be expensive but it will be much less costly then purchasing cases of individual bottles. Another benefit that drives down the cost is that you can reuse the drums again and again. Two drums will store enough water to provide a family of four with drinking water for two weeks during a water emergency like the one about to occur in southern Prince George’s County. Four drums will provide that same family with drinking water for a month, or will ensure you have a little something to share with the ill prepared during a shorter emergency.
Be mindful though – that much water is very heavy. Plan accordingly to prevent damage to your home. If possible keep it on the ground floor. It may also be a good idea to store barrels in separate areas to distribute weight.
If you choose to use fifty five gallon drums you have the added benefit of having a drum or two to convert to rain barrels should the need arise.
During an ongoing water emergency you will quickly find that life does not continue as we know it today. Due to a lack of water the washing machine will no longer clean your clothes. The dishwasher will no longer wash your dishes. Showers will no longer flow. Toilets will stop flushing!
Your drinking water is only for drinking, cooking, and personal washing. That precious two gallons per day will not provide water for dirty dishes, laundry, or toilets.