The first article in our series ‘Identify what you need to put aside‘ is water. Probably the most important yet unrecognised item on our list. Humans, Animals and Plants all rely on water to live and cannot go more than a few days without it. It is essential to our survival.
Although here in the UK water falls from the sky for our uses we cannot rely on this for our survival. Some scenarios we are considering include the possibility we would be unable to access any water or consume any water we can access. That stream running next to your home could easily have dead bodies further upstream contaminating the water. Some animals may be able to consume tainted water but it seems humans long ago lost that capability and that same water could make us ill and kill us. Therefore we must start under the assumption that we will not have access to external water for consumption.
The average human needs between 2 to 3 litres of water a day just to keep alive and that is if you are just sitting around while you require much more if you are working with even more if you are in a hot environment. We should work on having a minimum of 6 litres of water per day per person just to drink and cook with. This should cover our survival requirements. That means for our survival worst case scenario we need 15 months of water put aside for emergency use. That will keep us in water until we either get out to plant and forage or we simply run out of stores. Many will not have the room for that much water alone so will have to scale down. Remember it is worst case. At 6 litres a day for 15 months, 456 days, is 2736 litres. That is a lot of water and it is just for one person. Multiply that by how many of you are in your group for your total requirements.
So on to our list;
2736 Lr Water (each)
For most that much water will be impractical to store. So you should work towards alternatives. Unfortunately there are no alternatives to water and so you should plan on moving to external water earlier rather than later. To do this you should set up some water filtration systems ahead of time and prime them ready for use or ensure you have a good supply of chemicals to treat the water whilst you get your filtration systems on line.
There are several ways we can treat our water and make it safe to drink. The best way is to set up a biological filtration system and process it the same way that Mother Nature does. This can be set up now and left running so that we can use it when we need it. The water will have no chemicals in it and can be used for drinking and cooking as well as washing. In most cases it will be better than tap water today. See some filtration systems, here in the water treatment files, which can be set up for our use.
The next way, and the dirtiest, is to use chemicals or the sun to kill any organisms in the water. This will protect us from most of the organisms that will kill us or make us seriously ill but will not protect us from all or contaminants in the water, such as mercury. The normal chemical we use for this is chlorine based bleach although for backpacking and camping out it is more common to use water purification tablets. Sunlight will disinfect the water although that clearly needs the sun which may be an issue, plus it takes longer at about 2 days to kill off the organisms. Simply fill clear pop bottles with water. Lay in the sun and wait. See water treatment files for instructions.
Another way, and the most expensive financially, is to use commercial filtration systems to treat the water. I’ve seen videos of these where water is taken from a cow pat filled puddle in a field, processed and then consumed. There are several versions of these systems ranging from a straw up to a filtration systems that can process several gallons an hour.
A finally method and ironically the most resource unfriendly or the most resource friendly is distillation. This is where you boil the water and when the steam hits a colder surface it turns back into water. This water is 99.9% pure but you lose most of the beneficial minerals using this method. If you boil the water using stored energy such as wood or gas it is quick but very resource unfriendly and if you use a solar still it is slow but very resource friendly.
Each of these systems has advantages in either speed to produce clean water, quantity of clean water, unit portability and cost per litre. Ideally you should have in your stores a mixture to allow you to make choices based on your circumstances. You will also have noticed that in the car kit we had liquids plus water purification tablets and/or a filtration straw marked as preferably both. Whilst in the personal kit we had water purification tablets and/or a filtration straw again marked preferably both. You cannot have too many water purification options.
So add on to our list;
2 Lr Bleach (each)
1000 Water Purification tablets (each)
2 Water Filtration straws (each)
Sand – For filtration system
Gravel – For filtration system
Fine mesh – Stops leaves, debris clogging filtration system
PVC barrels for unit casing
Concrete to make your own unit casing
Tubing 20mm flexible PVC pipe
We also need to consider water collection. Obviously our bottled water comes in bottles so they are not an issue. As water will no longer be coming from taps and instead will be falling from the sky we need to catch the water. Then we can either store it or process it and store it. It depends on your use. As we are looking at this for basic survival we will process it though our system and then store it. Water can be made available to us in two ways. Rain or via stream or river.
If you have access to a stream of river you simply scoop up the water and pour it into the filtration system or you set up a pipe system to pipe the water in.
When collecting rain we obviously want to collect the maximum amount of rain water and so we need to have a large surface area to capture the water. There are several ways to do this but we will look at the main two.
Use the roofs of your buildings and tap into the guttering to divert the water to your filter or storage.
Assemble a sheet to collect the rainwater and collect it into your filter or storage. Usually you hang these from poles so you can angle the sheet so the water flows either into a hole at the centre or to an edge where your filter or collection device is. Bear in mind that swimming pools, fixed or blow up plastic, can be used to collect rain water as well. Fixed ones when you first find them may be full of water as well but be careful of those as the chances are the water from those will probably have poisonous chemicals in it. Use that water for washing and watering the garden with. Once it is empty though it should make a good storage tank.
So add on to our list;
Piping – From stream or from roof
Sheet Thick Plastic – To collect rain
Poles – To hold Sheet at angle so water flows into filtration system or storage
Fine Mesh – To stop pipes getting clogged
Water diverters for existing guttering systems
We must always remember storage. You should keep all your water sealed in the bottle or in a covered container in a cool dark place until you need it. That environment stops your water going ‘off’ where it will need to be treated again. If you store it in other than sealed bottles then you need to watch that bugs and vermin do not get into it. The water tanks in the lofts are an area worth considering for water storage. Rainwater barrels are also a good storage place but as they usually are connected to the roof the water from those will need treatment before human consumption as it will pick up debris, bird waste, etc. If you have the room and security permits a tank or a bladder in the garden is a good solution. A bladder is like a large hot water bottle, usually black, and will stretch to hold the water poured into it up to its limit.
Add to our list
That’s it. Don’t be too concerned about the quantity of water we identified. I always like to think worst case and plan for that. We can only do what we can do.
Next up is part 3, Food.