Sunday, May 02, 2010

Fragile infrastructure.

One broken water main in Massachusetts has the residents of 30 communities, seven hundred thousand households all told, boiling their tap water.
A massive rupture in a critical water main that supplies water to millions of residents in the Boston metro-area prompted Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to issue a state of emergency Saturday, the governor urging residents in 30 communities to thoroughly boil water before drinking it.
How much drinking water do you have on hand? Do you have stuff to purify water in an emergency?

This brings us back to the theory of Zombie Apocalypse: If you are prepared to fort up and survive when the dead rise and walk the earth in search of human brains, then a busted water main is a doddle. Just be sure and refill your water supply after they get the pipe fixed. You know, in case the zombies come the day after.

A little advanced preparedness can turn what would otherwise be a big problem into just a minor hassle.

36 comments:

D.W. Drang said...

How many gallons in your water heater? Those tankless jobs are pretty cool, except for the fact that they cut into your emergency preparedness.

Oh, and the anti-algae chemicals you put in your water bed? Don't drink 'em.

Joseph said...

I keep about 3 cases of water on hand. I have noticed that on the occasion of even a temporary, localized shutdown of the water system, the stores run out of bottled water in an eyeblink. (I'd keep more water, but I live in an apartment with limited storeage)

og said...

Boiling water changes the flavor enough that it's difficult to drink except in tea and coffee. If I have to boil water to decontaminate it, I invariably put in a teabag- or a bunch of them- so the flavor of the water is better.

My bugout kits have ER water purification tablets- each one decontaminates a liter. And can make the water taste like distilled ass. So I usually add the dry mix "Squincher" stuff, like sugar free gatorade.

My bugout kits are in 5 gallon buckets, one each for the wife, daughter and I. Once in a while, we take them out and use them for a weekend. I highly reccomend this. You find out what you have that's good, and what you're missing.

reflectoscope said...

Further point: Don't rely on an electric stove to boil water, either.

(Unless of course you have that jammy multi-fuel generator out back)

Jim

RobertM said...

I have a water filter that I use when camping. Keeps me from having to haul the stuff around if I'm near a water source. I also live within easy walking distance of a river and a number of large ponds so I'm good to go. My biggest concern has always been TP. Try to keep when of the jumbo packages on hand at all times.

global village idiot said...

My home has a whole-house dehumidifier. The floor near the pvc pipe where it enters the house drain is ALWAYS damp.

My project this summer is to determine:
a) the output of the dehumidifier for a given relative humidity, and
b) test the water for purification needs

If it's doable, all I need to do is make sure I can power the thing. The solar kit I'm installing on the roof this week should be a step toward that direction.

www.alpharubicon.com

gvi

Jay G said...

Not only are they without water, Tam, but the local TV station had to run a "news" piece to show people how to boil water...

I fear that we, as a species, are doomed...

ZerCool said...

Four to six flats of 0.5L bottles in the basement. Rotate out (use and replace) about one flat per month.

Couple cases of beer and soda.

Case or two of wine.

Case or two of single-malt scotch.

Enough guns to keep the scotch.

Zendo Deb said...

Thanks for reminding me... the starboard water tank ran dry last week. That means I only have about 20 gallons or so. (Later, when I refill both tanks, it will be back to 75 - in the tanks.)

Plus the gallon or so of fruit juice, powerade, etc.

And if I have any warning at all, I have three 5-gallon jerrycans (plastic) for water.

That doesn't count the 30 - 40 gallons of diesel fuel for the engine, (provides mobility, heats water in the water heater, and generates electricity for the battery. (Radio - AM/FM plus marine band - two way - and a full HAM set (not currently hooked up, but give me 40 minutes...)

Zendo Deb said...

Oh, and the two 10-pound propane cylinders (one is only about 30% full) for boiling water (have to boil water for pasta, rice, bean - non can variety - etc.)

TJP said...

About 20 gallons, but half of that is steam-distilled on rotation for photochemical use.

I have a well. I really need to modify it to use a manual pump.

My heater is 50 gallons, but that's not safe to drink from the bottom spigot, what with the sediment.

Anonymous said...

In inhabited areas, filters don't work as well as chemicals. (Virus in urban water supplies, giardia in "pristine" rural ones). So use both--filter, then chem Rx.

D.W. Drang said...

Jay G said...
Not only are they without water, Tam, but the local TV station had to run a "news" piece to show people how to boil water...

I fear that we, as a species, are doomed...

Think of it as evolution in action.

D.W. Drang said...

BTW, you can re-aerate boiled water easily, by simply pouring it between two containers. That will add some of the flavor back.

Re: Anon @7:03. Don't forget that, in urban areas, part of the problem is/may be that sewage will mix with storm drains. You may not have giardia or other will critter-carried bugs, but human carried bugs are likely to be worse.

When you look at water treatment at REI or Cabela's or wherever, a "filter" does not do as well as a "purifier"; the later might simply be a chemical treatment, or it might incorporate a filter as well.

You definitely want a purifier.

Zendo Deb said...

For all you lubbers, er... people who live on land, you can buy 35 gallon food-grade barrels for about 50 bucks. (They are advertised at 40 near me, but they don't say food-grade, they do say new).

You'll need a pump and smaller containers, because you aren't going to be hauling that 35 gallons to the kitchen.

Zendo Deb said...

There.... 75 gallons of water, split between 2 tanks (to guard against contamination), two 23-liter jerrycans, 25 gallons diesel, 13 pounds of propane, and a partridge in a pear tree.

And I forgot the number one reason you might want to boil water: coffee.

Buffboy said...

One of the great myths is you have to thoroughly boil water. The heating to a boil kills any nasties long before it reaches a "rolling" boil. Heating past boiling is pointless and a waste of fuel.

TimP said...

About 50 litres (~13 Gallons) in the garage in two small containers. Also about 5-10 litres in the boot of each car.

I'm thinking I need to buy a few more of the 25 litre bottles.

Kristopher said...

How much do you have to cook Zombie before it's safe to eat?

og said...

Zombie is transmitted via prion. No safe cooking method.

monkeyfan said...

Timely post Tam. With Hurricane season coming up I just checked over our supplies this weekend.

I'm sitting over 10,000 plus gallons in the two separate halves of our cistern.

As backup in case an earthquake -we get them too- cracks the cisterns or they become contaminated during a storm, we have a propane stove, 2 propane grills, dual fuel camp stove, SteriPen (with extra rechargeable -via solar- batteries), fresh bleach, and printed out info on Solar water Disinfection (SODIS) using PET plastic bottles (i.e. 2 liter coke).

Most would probably consider it over kill but "one is none and two is one" so I figure that with something as critical as potable water my family is pretty much gonna be covered...Except for that Berkey filter I covet.
;^)

Anonymous said...

Royal Berkey and two complete spare filter sets...

cap'n chumbucket

Homer said...

Half a dozen cases of 1-liter bottles, three 6-pack cases of gallons, two water purifiers, the requisite wine, scotch and scotch-protectors, a Zodi for showers, couple backpack stoves, three 20 lb propane tanks for the grill. I'm the only one on a dead end street without a pool. But I have buckets....

Anonymous said...

A 16kw generator, running off the gas line, lots of camping gear [stove and propane, just in case], flats of water in the basement,and 2 - soon to be 3 - rain barrels that are always full. Now to get a purifier unit to take out the bird crap. OldeForce

dave said...

Does a swimming pool, a beer keg converted to a brew kettle, and enough wood to boil it for days count?

rickn8or said...

ZerCool winz for the best grasp/execution of the concept.

Pretty much the same recipe here, but substitute rum and vodka for scotch.

JC said...

Three drops common bleach per gallon H2O is the standard per the 1968 Boy Scout Fieldbook (a really good resource if you can find one pre say 1976 - chock full of survivalist goodness, in easy to understand English, and no that's not a slur.)
Seriously, if you can find an OLD Boy Scout Fieldbook (NOT REPEAT NOT Handbook) but it and keep it on hand. You may know all that stuff, but the old ones were well and clearly written, and you may have to rely on someone else using it to save your precious...sit upon.

Conhiper (WV) a type of tree

Lissa said...

Yeah, this emergency is kind of my fault. Because I've thought about a Zombie Invasion kit but haven't actually put it together yet.

Sorry, everyone!

Malamute said...

Should be OK here. Have a well with very good water that came off the Front Range of the Rockies. With about 10-15 minutes of generator time, I can have a weeks worth of water. Have maybe 120 gals gas around, and 300 gals propane to cook on. Have to get on getting some more gas,.....

A creek nearby also, in case of Epic Fail of the 2 generators and fuel supplies.

Deer walking throught the yard daily give some supplement to the food provisions if needed, like a longer term Zombie infestation. Have maybe a couple months worth of basics otherwise. May have to add to the pantry. Thinking about it, a couple months doesnt look like much.

Think I have enough firewood to get through another winter.

Pretty good on hunting supplies.

Malamute

Turk Turon said...

WalMart sells 5-gallon Aquatainer jugs for about $10. In the camping section. Very heavy when full.

Daniel said...

Out here in California earthquake country, my family has been storing water since 1987. I use plastic 5-gallon water storage containers and rotate regularly. Old fashioned bleach - sodium hypochlorite 3 to 6 percent - is added at storage time. Recommendations under water treatment here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hypochlorite - I am not sure the concentration is the same as when the old Boy Scout Field Manual was published (a few drops per gallon doesn't sound like enough). Watch out for water-heater water - uncontrolled inflow will contaminate, maybe before you know it. Stay safe!

Windy Wilson said...

I'm at work now (nothing like a blog to destroy productivity!), so I can't check on the amounts, but in the mid 70's some dads at the Backpack training unit of the local BSA who were chemical engineers did an analysis of just how much household bleach you needed. A few drops per gallon just doesn't sound right, but I CRS so I have to look that up.
Joseph, I take bottled water and have a backlog of 3-4 standard carboys at any one time, so that is about 22 gallons on hand. I'm hoping my neighbor's swimming pool can contribute water for flushing the toilet.
I understand that after a few months of putting the chlorine treatment in the pool, chemically speaking there is very little water left, what with stuff combining with the water. I got this second hand from a friend, so dunno how accurate that is.
Zercool, I'm looking into getting a few cases of relatively cheap whiskey in the small flask sizes so as to have something for barter.

B_L said...

If you live in the midwest and stock up on water, do not trust the Spartan store-brand 5 gallon rectangular containers. They get brittle well before the expiration date and will split if you pick them up. I know this from experience, it sucked ass. You never really appreciate how much water 5 gallons is until it explodes onto your floor...

Sigivald said...

The most useful "emergency water" store in a home is a second water heater tank, not hooked up for heat, just to store water.

40 or 50 extra gallons of water, nice and fresh (since you can plumb it in-line so the water's constantly flowing).

(Yeah, if the mains are contaminated, you have to boil or use purifiers. But at least the water's there if the mains are off.)

Firehand said...

Somewhere in my saved files is a section on water, and I believe it says 1/4 teaspoon 5-6% sodium hyopchlorite bleach(no scents or whatever, just the plain stuff)per gallon of water to kill microorganisms.

Firehand said...

Found the link:
http://foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/pdf_Files/Emergency_water.pdf