Toddler drinks from a bottle of water outside on a sunny day

Water, water everywhere

Water will be more valuable than gold following a natural disaster.

“Water, water everywhere, [but not a] drop to drink.”

That’s one of the few Shakespearean quotes I know, so I love it when I get a chance to reference it. Only, as it turns out, it ISN’T from Shakespeare. It’s from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. (I’m glad I Googled for verification before posting this.) That’s my first embarrassing admission for this post.

Regardless of who wrote it, it’s a good segue into the topic of this post, which is about water, and how much of it we should have on hand in case of emergency. 

How much do I need?

The experts advise us to have  one gallon per person, per pet, per day. Those same experts (and I really do believe they know what they are talking about), say that we should be prepared to be on our own – i.e., without assistance from any first-responders – for at least fourteen days following a major natural disaster. That is math even I can do. 

I live alone, so I should have fourteen gallons of water on hand for emergencies. That’s a lot of bottled water. But wait, I have a dog, so that number just doubled! You may be thinking, ‘I don’t drink that much water in a day’. That’s true, but some of the water is for cooking and sanitation.

This leads to my second embarrassing admission. Even though I know and preach those statistics, I realized the other day that I don’t have anywhere near that amount of bottled water stashed away. I did at one time, then I kept whittling away at it for various occasions, and soon I was down to eight gallons…total! Not even enough for me, let alone for both me and my dog. I am twenty-one gallons below the recommended amount. Again, that’s a lot of bottled water. It’s a lot to haul home from the store (I will probably opt for delivery, or else stock up a little at a time), and a lot to store away in a home.

Where to store all that water?

Where to store all that water and other supplies is a question I’m often asked by my clients during their in-home Readiness Assessment. After the interview portion of the assessment, we do a walk-through of their home and property to find an answer to that question. Sometimes it’s obvious, but more often it takes some ingenuity and planning. You may be tempted to go for larger sized containers – five gallon or more – but keep in mind that when the time comes, you may need to move your stash to another location on your property. Five gallons of water weighs 41.7 pounds, so besides simply moving it, consider whether or not you could lift it to pour a glass of water to drink.

Expiration dates and BPAs? 

Here’s a piece of good news. You can ignore the expiration date you may find on bottled water. Adding expiration dates to bottled water was a marketing ploy designed to convince you that you need to replace it. Not true. 

Aren’t there harmful chemicals (BPAs) that leach into the water from plastic bottles? Not enough to kill you. You would die from dehydration decades before you’d detect any physical reaction to BPAs. In an emergency, any clean water is better than none. And honestly, that’s a first-world concern, isn’t it?

Is it really worth the storage space?

If you decide it’s just too difficult to store that much water, consider this. In the event of a major quake, all the underground water supply pipes WILL break. That means no running water for a long, long time. Yes, you might be able to find water from secondary sources such as your water heater tank or your toilet tank, but before using it you will have to purify it, and I’m pretty sure you won’t want to have to mess with that.

Two-question pop quiz! 

How much bottled water do you have on hand right now? 

When will the next earthquake hit?

Questions? Wanna talk? Take advantage of my free, 20-minute phone consultation.

The smallest of deeds is better than the greatest of intentions. John Burroughs, American Essayist