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  Part one - The need for Water  

    When you perform Search and Rescue in the Arizona deserts, it comes quite clear that water is everything. Without it, you cannot survive long in normal conditions and even less time in drastic conditions. Even if you are rescued before perishing you may have sustained kidney damage and will require intense medical assistance and long stays under the care of a hospital. So priority one is water. Look at it as air, you need air / oxygen. Without it, you will die in just a few minutes, or become brain damage and disabled for life.

     I can remember the reports of those who did survive earthquakes or other disasters and had to go three, five or longer days without water to only die from complications due to the extreme dehydration causing organ failure. I think I made my point how important water is.

     Now, even if you have access to water what is the quality of the water? Has it become contaminated? Sickness and decease is seen all over the world from contaminated water. It has been a problem from day one and has been a main cause of whole civilizations dwindling in population due to sickness and disease. If you become sick from the water, dehydration will come quickly due to you’re bodies purging and your fever rising. So clean non-contaminated water is your most precise item to have on hand. Food, shelter and medicines are the next must have items. Having the ability to protect those items is necessary, but I will not cover that issue in this article.

     So I am going to focus on water storage, filtration and decontamination to give you the purist of purified water possible under the circumstances. Note I said circumstances. When disasters happen, water is one of the first things to loose through contamination and render it useless to your survival.

     I can remember in Pennsylvania during the 1970’s, my birthplace. Flooding occurred referred to as the hundred-years flood. The rising water from the Susquehanna River reached a part of my hometown that immediately caused sewage (wastewater) to flow into the streets. Warnings were issued for those that wadded in the water to recover their belongings and help others. Anyone who was waist deep for any length of time stood a chance of getting infections, that in some cases resulted in amputation of any of the lower extremities. So for those reasons water can obviously be our friend or foe.

     Storage of water would prove to be the main action to prepare for such a situation. Keeping it in a safe cool dry place is a concern but manageable. However, not all of us have the ability to store water in large quantities. Especially, those in large cities where living spaces prohibit large areas of storage such as apartments and so on. Sealed bottled water in small or large containers is the obvious choice in those matters. Remember in order to have non-stored water in those areas just mentioned you need electricity for the City systems to pump water to your water taps. So if the power goes out, then the water stops flowing. It’s that simple, not to mention swage will start backing up and in time may reach dangerous levels into your home.

     The public in general thinks wastewater is all gravity flow away from their home. Yes and no to that. It may flow away to a point, but then there is what is called forced mains that then pump the wastewater up to higher elevations when necessary. So from that point back to your home, you stand the change in time of it all backing up and finally back feeding into your homes. The good news is with no power then there is no water flow to your home, so then introducing extra water into the sewage system would be slow since it probably would only be waste and not run off from baths and showers. But during flooding or extreme rains. This all can find its way into the wastewater system. Causing the backups to accelerate.

    So let's look at supply and demand. In normal conditions human consumption of water is minimal when we only look at surviving. A few glasses a day could sustain you for weeks. If you live in the deserts where there is low humidity and high temperatures this greatly increases. So the need for more water obviously increases and the need for greater storage increases as well. We are not discussing bathing or any cooking using water at this point. Only what is necessary to sustain you for a given period of time. Now, when you store water, you need to keep it cool and away from sunlight. I preferably use sealed containers to keep oxygen away and slowing down bacteria and other contaminates from forming or entering the container. Especially if floodwaters potentially can come in contact with the storage containers.

    Containers are a concern for the possibilities to contributing contaminates to the water, leaching from plastics or degrading of materials resulting in expelling harmful toxic chemicals into the stored water should be taken seriously. Polycarbonate and BPA free are recommended. Stainless steel would be my choice, but not practical for most. Glass would be the alternative, but can be damage easily. So care must be taken when transporting glass, or secure it just in case there is some kind of earth shaking event that could fracture these containers.

    Never use a container that you cannot verify as to what was stored in it beforehand, or what it was used for prior to your needs. Stay away from all toxic poisonous containers. Even if you wash them with detergents and long term flushing, they still can leach remnant poisons into the stored water, especially over time and in warm condition. So do not use these containers no matter what!

    As a geranial rule, the higher the temperature the more toxins can leach out from the containers into the water. This can be referred to as out gassing. This is where paying attention to the type of container is critical. If you use grade seven plastic bottles to store your water in at higher temperatures. Like hiking in the Arizona deserts and placing the bottle in your backpack. The more leaching will take place and inject higher amounts of BPA’s into the water. Conversely, leaving the bottle in direct sunlight can drastically increase this out gassing action as well. So choose your containers carefully! Like the PiMag® Sport water bottle with its own built-in purifier for hiking, backpacking or Bugging out of Town.

    Colloidal Silver and Chlorine tablets are one way to keep water from going bad over time. The metal “Silver” has been a natural antibiotic for centuries. The settlers moving across the plains would put silver dollars in the water barrels to help keep out bacteria. The use of ultraviolet light is a great hi-tech way to kill bacteria as well.

     Filtration methods run as vast as Internet uses and can vary drastically in price and level of purifications. Most newer generations of portable water purifiers do a great job in removing large particles. However, when it comes to removing bacteria, microorganisms, viruses and micron particles such as heavy metals, then the prices start to rise dramatically. So your budget will determine the type of filter you purchase.

By Scott Hensler 0/12/2013

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