Water Storage - Part I

Water Storage. More than just a bottle or two, it’s a HUGE subject.

15 and 55 gallon barrels
Water BOBs
2 liter bottles
Canteens
Portable filters
Purification tablets
Iodine purification
Mechanical filters
Ceramic filters
Chemical filters
Distillers

Water During the Bug-Out
What do you do? Do you store all you need ahead of time? Do you keep filters on hand and hope to have or find a supply to purify? In deciding on your strategy, two things are certain.

  • Water is heavy
  • You’ll need more than you think

These two points carry a world of meaning. Traveling with a water supply that is not supplemented with other sources of water is possible, if you have a vehicle large enough for the task. 1 gallon of water = 8.3lbs, plus the container. If you go with one of the recommended loads, you will pack 5 gallons per person, per day. This is enough for cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene on they way. Two people planning on a 2 day trip to a BOL will carry 20 gallons at 166lbs., at about 3 cu.ft..  If they are thrifty, they might get by with half that. But what about after they arrive? Is there water available there, or stored? And what about those that find themselves on foot? They certainly can not carry all that water, even if they had packs designed for that task. They could try to pare down the load. One source says a person can get by with 2 liters a day, which is about one half gallon. Under stress, that can double or triple. Figure on 1.5 gallons. That’s 10 of those small water bottles sold  in the
stores. Going with the 2 liter setup, and they’re looking at 4 of those bottles per day. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? To save on weight and space, they will need to cut down their loads.

Something that many preppers fail to consider is loss. Supplies can be damaged, misplaced, forgotten, stolen or used up quickly. Damaged water bottles don’t do do-overs. It is a good idea to have a means for processing water found along the way.

How much water should you carry?
That’s a simple question. As much as you reasonably can. That isn’t to say that your car should be loaded down to the suspension stops, but carry a goodly amount. 5 gallons per person might seem a lot to you. I wouldn’t go less than a gallon per person per day. Two would make me feel pretty good. On foot, you’ll actually need more for your physical needs. But simple plain water might not be enough for your situation. More below….

Scientific American
The 8 glasses of 8 ounces per day water recommendation have come under reevaluation lately. An article in Scientific American says that the average woman needs 2.7 liters (.76 gallons) per day, and the average man 3.7 liters (.84 gallons) per day. www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=eight-glasses-water-per-day  (FM 10-52, Chap. 3 suggests .7 gallons per man in a sedentary (hospital) environment.) These figures are for “average” adults. Under stress, things change. In an arid environment, basic requirements can quadruple. Consider bugging out on foot to be a “stressful” situation.

Water Intoxication and Death
Drinking too much water, too fast, can kill you. Chugging water in large quantities dilutes your electrolytes and sodium, and prevents them from working as they should. Common sense recommendations say that you should drink as you get thirsty, and not in an effort to store up ahead of time. Military.com has an article that treats this topic. www.military.com/military-fitness/health/drinking-too-much-water

So, once again, how much?
Myself, I got a feel for it by actually going through a test. I worked hard for several hours, sweat, and got a feel for my needs. You could look at the last strenuous hike you took, or the last time you play some serious sports, and get an idea of the probable maximum you should carry. I like the 2 gallon figure for bodily needs, which includes some over the head when I’m really hot. If you sweat a lot, you will need to replace electrolytes. Make up some replacement solution, with Oral Re-hydration Salts. (You might want to make up half of your supply in this manner if you suspect you may be under heavy exertion, or working hard in hot weather.) Sweating out your electrolytes and replacing them with pure water is very much like drinking lots and lots of water – you end up hyponetremic.

From gcrg.org, “Prevention is the key. Stay hydrated and nourished. Once hiking, keep a steady intake of water or electrolyte replacement drink and eat. I cannot emphasis this enough. Sport physiologists assume people are eating and therefore do not need commercial electrolyte replacement. The truth of the matter is that people don’t eat when they are hot, and they don’t eat once they become dehydrated and sick. Gatorade, which contains the highest sodium concentration, doesn’t even come close to the 35 mEq/liter/ hour needed to replace lost salt through sweat. What kind of food, my personal preference is salty snack food.
This is not a time for power bars. Leave the health food behind. Junk food is great. Stock up. The rangers now routinely give out saltine crackers, pretzels and Cheezits. Stay ahead of the sodium curve!” www.gcrg.org/bqr/14-1/hypo.html

Here is a source for ORS on Amazon.  Follow the directions.

To make your own pre-mixed ORS, use this recipe.
4 level teaspoons of sugar,
1/2 level teaspoon of salt,
. . . mixed in one liter of water.

Medical NOTE and DISCLAIMER:  Bringing someone back from the brink of dangerous dehydration, or over hydration takes some foreknowledge. I won’t pretend to have the answers for all situations. What I’ve done here is to bring to the fore some of the problems associated with “drinking”.  I encourage you to do reading on the subject, and if you are interested in being able to treat hypovolemic victims, study well. More to the point of this article, though, is my encouragement to you to PREVENT this problem by being adequately stocked and serviced ahead of time. Do your part. It’s hard to treat yourself when you are stuck down, or falling into a coma.

Continued in Part II….

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