Finding and purifying enough clean drinking water is one of the biggest survival problems for just about any survival situation. Health experts say that we should ideally drink 8 – 8 oz. glasses of water per day. That works out to a half gallon. Survival instructors say that we need to have a gallon of water per person, per day, for drinking and cooking. So the two are pretty much in alignment. Nevertheless, coming up with and purifying that much water for a family, when the city water is shut off, is a huge challenge and will end up occupying a large amount of time.
There are two things to keep in mind with those figures. One is that it is assuming a normal day, not one of strenuous hard work in the heat. It’s possible to sweat out more than a gallon of water a day, in which case the individual would become dehydrated, if they weren’t drinking enough to make up for it.
The other thing is all the other things we use water for. While we might curtail cleaning and bathing in the most severe survival situations, the fact is that personal hygiene and keeping your home clean are important parts of survival. Disease spreads much faster and easier in a dirty environment, than it does in a clean one. So our actual water usage is probably going to be more like five gallons of water, per person, per day. That’s a lot.
One part of the solution is to stockpile water. But that’s hard to do; not because water doesn’t store well; it will, but because of how much is needed. Finding enough storage space for all that water is a huge challenge.
My recommendation is to stockpile as much water as reasonably possible, but save it for emergency use. When in a survival situation, start harvesting water from nature the first day, not when your water supply runs low. By starting out early, you can keep that stockpiled water for times when you have trouble harvesting enough water from nature and getting it purified.
Storing water in bottles or gallons is inefficient, although gallons can be stored in places, such as under the bed, where other things might not be stored. Besides that, it’s easier to use water in gallon jugs, than to use water stored in 55 gallon drums.
The problem with either gallons or drums is that you need a lot of them to provide your family with water. A relatively short-term loss of water, such as might happen during a hurricane, will see a family go through a few hundred gallons of water, just for drinking and cooking. If they bathe, wash their clothes and try to keep the house clean, it will jump up much higher than that, even with using the most stringent means of conservation possible.
What’s needed is a large tank to store that water in. In my last home, I had a couple of 200 gallon tanks I used. But those are a bit conspicuous. If you want t tank that people aren’t going to notice, you’ll be better off buying an above-ground swimming pool and using it as a stealth water tank. The chemicals used to keep the water safe for swimming, also make it safe to drink.
Speaking of keeping the water safe to drink, any water stored for a prolonged period of time need to have 8 drops of chlorine bleach per gallon added to it. A lot of people forego this precaution; but there’s no guarantee that the water you’re storing is totally free of bacteria and other microscopic pathogens. Adding the bleach ensures that if there are any, they die, rather than multiply.