Water is one of the most precious and misunderstood commodities that we use today. We are accustomed to being able to turn on the tap, flush the toilet, take a shower, wash dishes, and wash our clothes without considering where the water came from or what we would do if we lost it. Although humans can live in adverse conditions with limited food supplies for several weeks, two days without water represents a serious threat to an individual’s health and safety. Today, the lack of water for sanitation represents one of the greatest health hazards in third world nations.
You’ve stocked away a year worth of long term food storage but how is your water storage coming? You have a full gun cabinet and enough ammo to stop Godzilla but what happens when the water stops flowing?
Water Requirements for Preppers
Typically, people can’t even account for how much water they use in a day, let alone tell you how they would prepare for being without water. To be honest, it’s understandable that people don’t know how much water they use or need, because it varies on the climate, on the individual, and whether or not you include sanitation in your requirements assessment.
According to the Institute of Medicine, an adequate water intake for adult men is roughly 3 L of water per day and an adequate intake of water for women is about 2.2 L. From a water storage perspective, this would mean that you would need somewhere between 3 quarts and one gallon of water per person per day just for the basic necessities of life.
Water for Hygiene
If you include hygiene in the equation, then you have to account for toilet, showers and washing clothes. According to the EPA the typical toilet using 1.3 gallons of water per flush, a typical shower using 2.5 gallons of water per minute, washing dishes can take between ten and 20 gallons per load, and using a washing machine to do your laundry could use between twenty-seven and 54 gallons of water per load.
Typical Family Water Usage
A typical family of four, that does one load of laundry per person per week, washes dishes daily, everyone goes the bathroom twice, and everyone takes a five minute shower every day. You would need to store 807 gallons to meet the family’s water requirements for one week.
Of this only 168 gallons would need to be clean drinking water and of these 140 gallons would be used for dishes and 28 gallons would be used for drinking. You could economize on the dish washing (saving up to half) and you could reuse this water for sanitation. This would cut the clean drinking requirements to 100 gallons per week, of which 70 gallons would be used for dishes and then reused to flush the toilet. You would need another 560 gallons of “clear” water for laundry and showers, you could economize this by up to 50% assuming fewer showers and hand washing clothes but you would still need to plan for about 280 gallons per week.
So your water storage requirements could range from 1 to 30 gallons per person per day depending on the level of preparedness and cleanliness that you are planning for.
Climate & Gardening
Other things that you need to include in you planning is the climate, hot dry weather could double your water usage and if you are relying on dehydrated foods be sure to include the water necessary to rehydrate them in your basic planning.
Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that if you are going to have a garden it will need a steady supply of water. Consider that if you water your garden for 30 minutes a day and the water hose provides 5 gallons of water per minute you will need to provide 150 gallons per day to maintain your garden.
Can’t Have Too Much Water
This purpose of this whole post is to get you thinking about just how much water you need to store and for what purposes. It doesn’t really take much water to simply survive but if you want to have clean clothes and bathe regularly, you will need much much more.
Next to oxygen, water is the most important thing for survival. You certainly can’t have too much of it.
We will be following this post up with another one about how to actually store all this water so stay tuned!