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by Bryan A. Thompson
Last Updated 2/12/2003
If you're on deep well water or rely on rural pumping stations to provide water, you rely on electricity for water. In my town, the water fails at least twice a week. Even if you live in an apartment, it's possible to survive a water outage in an emergency situation.
How Much Water to Store for an Emergency
If you want to know how much water it takes to supply your household for a month, look at the bill.
If you want to know how much water to store for an emergency, do a usage survey. Multiply by the length of time you wish to plan for. That's the amount to store for an emergency.
Emergency Water Sources
If you live in an apartment or rent your home, it isn't possible to add a pump and storage tank, and it may be difficult to store water in quantity. I keep a 5 gallon container full for drinking water, rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, etc. There's some water in the toilet freshwater tank. If you have an older toilet, it stores about 5 gallons. If you have a newer toilet, it may be stored in a pressure vessel where you can't get to it easily. If you know there will be an outage, it's possible to store more in the bathtub, buckets, etc.
If you live in a rainy / snowy climate, it may be possible to capture rainwater or melt enough snow to survive in an emergency. If you do this, you'll probably want a staged filter to screen out particulates as well as microorganisms.
It takes 422.04 Watt Hours of energy to heat water from 32F to 212F. It takes 229.77 Watt Hours of energy to heat water from 32F to 130F.
See the heating survey page for more information on how much energy it takes to heat water for cooking or bathing.
Heating Water in an Emergency
Use a solar shower. They cost about $15, hold 5 gallons, take about 3 hrs to heat water from 60F to 108F on a 70F day. They're supposed to work on cool days, too.
Boil it in a pan. If you have electricity, use the coffeemaker. Otherwise, use the BBQ grill or wood stove as a fuel source.
Storage of Water
Water storage barrels are available everywhere. Full 55gallon barrels weigh 450lbs and are too difficult to move. Full 30 gallon barrels weigh 250lbs, and full 15 gallon barrels weigh 125lbs. You'll also need some stabilized oxygen water preservative. Stored in this manner, it's possible to store water for 5 yrs.
15 gallon barrels cost $20, or $1.33/gallon.
30 gallon barrels cost $30, or $1/gallon.
55 gallon barrels cost $40, or $0.73/gallon.
Stabilized Oxygen Storage Additive costs $0.0182/gallon of treated water.
A barrel wrench costs $10. It's needed to install and remove the seals on the barrels above.
A hand pump is needed for larger barrels. $20.
A bucket, hose or water pump is a good idea. Get a solar shower if you want to shower while the water is out.