Be Prepared for a Man-Made or Natural Emergency



Water is essential to survival - for you and your pets. And, you may also need to have your own source of water for bathing, washing dishes, food preparation, and sanitation. Most water has a shelf life of only one year, so use your stored water as your bottled drinking water, replacing it as needed, so your water supply will always be fresh. If you are not able to use the water fast enough to keep the supply fresh, use the expired water your flowers, rinse your hair, or flush the toilet. Rinse the bottles out, then refill the bottles with fresh water. Even good water bottles cannot be refilled more than once or the plastic may leach into the water. This is another reason to keep buying fresh water and rotating them to the back of the line. Mark bottles that have been refilled a second time so they will not be used for drinking. After a disaster, you can still use this water for baths, washing hair, and flushing the toilet, etc.

Water will be at a premium in a disaster, so stock up on boxed, bottled or canned drinks that are ready to drink instead of getting all your drinks in powdered form. Drinks that are made by adding water should be kept in a good thermos or "cooler" so they can stay safe and tasty longer. Water will also be necessary for use with powdered milk, instant mashed potatoes, etc. You will also want to stock up on paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, and paper towels to keep the amount of water used for washing to a minimum. Even if your home is totally usable so you have access to all your regular dishes and utensils, you should use water for washing dishes only when you really must and use disposable items whenever possible. To make cooking clean-up faster and easier, line pots with aluminum foil. If you want to cook something like macaroni, try to find something else to boil with it. Both could be in the same pan if each food is put into a good boiling bag. You can boil eggs for egg salad sandwiches in the water with macaroni noodles if you clean the shells first. Using natural apple cider vinegar to clean the eggs will save water. Then scoop the eggs out with a slotted spoon before pouring the macaroni into a colander.


You need to have enough clean water on hand to allow for at least 1 gallon per person per day and a half gallon per regular pet (less for the hamster and more for the horse) per day for drinking and food preparation.

You can purchase fresh bottled water in stackable containers, or have bottled water delivered to your home. Find out the shelf life of the water by reading the labels. You can even find some large containers of water that have a spigot for filling cups easily or to act as a faucet for washing hands.

Fill your own containers with tap water. This water can last up to a year. Rinsed-out, two-liter soda bottles are great for tap water. They are free, have lids to keep the water clean, are not too heavy, and are small enough to store in lots of places. Storing some of these filled bottles in the freezer will also keep your food colder while saving on your electricity bill (leave some room in the top of the bottle for expansion as the water freezes). They can also be used in the refrigerator in a power shortage to keep food cold. (Remember that soda bottles may be filled with tap water once for drinking, and only for utility water after the second or third filling.) When the water in the bottles is too warm to keep food cool, you can also drink it.


A new, washed trash barrel with a lid is a great way to store water in the backyard for bathing and for washing hair. This water can even stay clean enough to drink for quite some time if you're careful with it. And, if needed, you can add water purification tablets later. Water in a barrel could also get comfortably warm on a nice summer day to make bathing nicer. This water should be replaced before an emergency if it starts looking dirty or smelling. Adding add a little chlorine (bleach) will keep the water clean longer if you are unable to replace it before an emergency strikes.

Another clean barrel can be used to catch rain water. Simply take the lid off after the rain starts and put the lid back on after the rain stops.

Bathing with a mixture of two parts water and one part natural apple cider vinegar will make your water go much farther and last longer. Apple cider vinegar removes any soap residue, so it allows you to use less water for rinsing - although you don't even need soap for most areas of your body when using this mixture. Washing with the apple cider vinegar/water mixture alone requires no rinsing at all and almost no need to dry yourself afterwards, and it leaves your skin so soft. A little apple cider vinegar under the arms is also a natural deodorant.

With any bathing method, you will not have enough water to waste filling a tub. You instead clean different parts of your body at a time with a washcloth. If it is cold, you can clean part of your body while the rest is still warmly covered.

To conserve water even further or for situations where you have no water, you can still bathe with Comfort Bath Personal Cleansing Ultra-Thick Disposable Washclothsicon. These require no rinsing and contain aloe and Vitamin E. Another no-rinse bathing product is No Rinse Body Bath (biodegradable, contains no alcohol), which is p-H balanced and gentle.

Hair washed with shampoo needs a thorough rinsing, but this can be done with much less water if you add natural apple cider vinegar to the rinse water. Apple cider vinegar removes soap and will leave your hair shinier and healthier than ever. Be sure to have a dishpan under the hair when you are rinsing it to capture the water for other uses later. EZ Shampoo (sold out right now) allows hair washing anywhere away from running water. It comes with an inflatable basin for you head and hair, with an opening for your neck. The basin catches rinse water which is held in an inflatable hanging bag with a flexible hose attached. This system is lightweight, portable and collapsible, and you can let the water bag heat up in the sun for comfort.

To conserve water even further, or for situations where you have no water, you can still wash you hair with a Comfort Hairô Rinse-Free Shampoo Cap, which even contains conditioner. Everything needed for a your shampoo is contained in the disposable cap, and it gets your hair feeling clean, soft and healthy.

Camping and emergencies can still have their luxurious side.


During an emergency, water that was used for bathing, washing hair, and washing dishes should be saved and recycled. Even if you don't have a water supply coming into your toilet, it will flush nicely on its own when you pour in about half a bucket of any liquid all at once. If you keep the toilet lid closed, you might get by with flushing only once or twice a day (when there is something solid to remove).


There are many places where you can find water that is clean enough "as is" for bathing, to which you could also add water purification tablets if no other drinking water is available, and which is good for flushing the toilet. One source is the water is in the tank at the back of the toilet (not the water in the toilet itself). This water doesn't come from the bowl, so it is not contaminated. Your hot water heater tank is another source of water for emergency use. You may also have access to a pond, river or stream.

If you have advance notice before an emergency, you can wash out your bathtub, buckets, and large bowls and fill them with tap water.

Chlorine to keep water clean or to kill germs in questionable water should be used sparingly. Chlorine has a strong odor, and it can be hazardous to your health if you use too much in drinking water or if you drink this water for too long. Add just a little to water that you must store for a long time without a tight seal. Boiling the chlorinated water for ten minutes (start counting after the rolling boil begins) will remove the chlorine, as will a charcoal filter. The boiled water can then be poured back and forth between clean containers to re-oxygenate it, thereby making it taste fresh again. Or, you can beat the water with a hand mixer. To purify water from a stream, etc., simply boil the water for five minutes, or use a water filtration system.


If you have a small child, any container of water must have a lid. Little ones can drown in even an inch of water if they fall in, and children have drowned in uncovered buckets. The lids should also be tight so that the little ones can't get them off easily, and someone should always be supervising them in case they manage to remove the lid anyway.

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