It's an emergency! Storing water in a watercooler-less world
One of the worst disasters most people could imagine would be running out of drinking water. There are a variety of disasters, both natural and zombie-apocalypse-related, that could precipitate a shortage of the water supply, but luckily for many of us there's nicely contained and stored water in our workplace for our office water dispensers.
But how much harder would it be if the taps run dry and we didn't have our handy water cooler bottles? Check out these tips for treating and storing water safely.
Water storage systems
The first consideration is what type of container you’ll use to store water. You may not have an handy. Whilst they can be constructed of plastic, glass or metal, it’s important to ensure the material is food grade. Jugs that once held soda, juice or milk are ideal. Although stainless steel containers are acceptable, you don’t want to store chlorinated water in them since it may corrode the metal.
Larger storage containers such as 100-litre tanks are available but always opt for food grade only; they will be stamped HPDE (High Density PolyEhtylene) on the bottom.
After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the containers you are going to use for water storage, rinse with water and a bit of chlorine bleach to ensure they are properly sanitized (or boil the container in clean water if small enough).
Here’s a valuable tip: label your containers. Clearly write “Drinking Water” and the date on them in permanent marker so you’ll know which should be used first.
Treating water for storage
If you are using tap water you can rest assured that it’s already been treated by your local water treatment facility. However, if you can't be sure it's been treated a few drops of chlorine bleach per gallon can be added to be on the safe side. This is recommended if you are repurposing containers that previously held some other beverage.
Although not ideal, if you had no other source you could use salt water as long as you distilled it first. There are some simple ways to distil the water so you can drink it; basically you must heat the water and collect the vapour.
Here’s another source of readily available water: swimming pools. If you’ve got a pool, then you’ve got lots of water that, as long as it is treated on a regular basis to prevent algae growth, is just fine to drink. Boil it first, however, then let it cool.
Water storage tips
Treated water should be stored in a cool, dry place that is out of direct sunlight; a cellar or waterproof storage shed (on a shelf away from pesticides and other chemicals) would be ideal. This follows pretty much the same rules as when storing your normal water cooler bottles, as chemicals can seep through almost any container over an extended period of time.
Although it can last indefinitely, it’s a good idea to use your water then replace it every year or so. That way you can rest assured that it is fresh should you need to use it in an emergency.
You never know when disaster might strike and leave you without drinking water. Take steps now to treat and store enough water to last you and your family for months so you are always prepared – zombies or no zombies.
Barrel image credit: Minnesota Historical Society