Friday, July 16, 2010

And then, what happened?



I love story telling, but more I love listening to my children's stories ... except, they tend to tell stories, just the way I do - in a flush of words with many digresses throughout the telling and after a convoluted narrative, finally ending up at a logical point somewhere down a long and twisting road. Sometimes, when I'm in a hurry to not listen anymore, but wishing to give them some opportunity to weave the tale, I'll wave my hand irritably and query, "So you and your buds were in the woods catching fish with your hands ..., and then, what happened?"

I was reading this really great article the other day about storing water. Lots of great ideas, but coming from my thrivalist mindset, as I was reading, my mind kept wandering beyond the 72 hour storage capacity the article recommended. Many disaster preparedness writers recommend storing 72 hours worth of water. That's three days.

And to be very clear I do *NOT* disagree with being prepared and having stored water. My concern is with the ... and, then, what happens?

My concern is that some people who are preparing are doing so with the (probably unconscious) hope that at some point down the road, they will be rescued ... or they will be able to escape, and frankly, I don't really believe either will happen ... for most people. I think most of us will be stuck where we are with what we have. While I do think that we need community, I don't think there is some entity, agency or group out there who is just waiting for TEOTWAWKI so that they can swoop in and save the day. Self-reliance, right? Because there is no one on Earth who knows better what I and my family need than I.

Another concern I have is with that false sense of security. If I have three days worth of water stored - enough for my family of five (or about 80 gallons, including some for the dogs), will I be out there looking for water to replace what we've used, or will I be hunkered down waiting for the Calvary to ride in on their white horses and bring me a tank load of potable water?

My guess is that most folks will be hunkering down ... and then, three days later, when they are out of water, they'll come up out of their Hobbit hole, and start looking, but if they haven't sourced a place to find water, even water that has to boiled and/or filtered, they will be in a bad spot. When there is no water, one gets thirsty REALLY fast, and to expend energy looking for water when one is already thirsty is probably not the wisest thing.

That said, I do have some stored water. There's a gallon, or so, in the back of the cabinet. There's a gallon in the fridge. We always have a pitcher of filtered water in the fridge and a two-gallon container of filtered water on the counter. We also have the, typical, residential sources of water: toilet tanks, water pipes leading into the house (our hot water heater is an on-demand variety, though, and so no "stored" water there).

Plus, we have rain barrels - with plans to install a larger water catchment system when we get the new chicken coop built.

But I've looked beyond what I have here, on my property, for places where there is water. There's a brook behind my house; there's a creek behind the subdivision across the road from me, and I know exactly which house in the subdivision it goes behind; there's a pond just through the woods in the other direction; the river is a couple of miles from here; and then, there's the saltmarsh and the ocean, and in a real pinch, I could set up a desalination/distillation process and use the ocean water.

The thing is that none of those sources of water is potable without some purification, some action I have to take before we can safely drink it, which is where the stored water comes in handy.

But I don't need to store eighty gallons of potable water. What I do need to do is to realize that this is the emergency and to start, immediately, with collecting water from one or more of my sources and start making it ready for us to use.

If I lived in a water scarce area, I would probably have more stored water than I do, and I would, definitely, be looking into a larger water catchment system - preferrably something with an underground storage tank - but if I lived in one of those areas, I'd also be doing some very heavy research with regard to how indigenous people managed to survive, nay thrive, before the Hoover Dam was built bringing water through pipes to my town.

It's wise to have the basic necessities always available in some quantity ... but it's better to know where to get it, when what's stored runs out.

1 comment:

  1. That 72 hour thing must be assuming something other than the apocalypse — in other words, the normal emergencies like regional natural hazards (earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, etc.). After 72 hours, the thinking goes, the power should (nearly) be back on or emergency services will be available to take you to a shelter.

    It's a trade-off: on one side you have the wherewithal for long-term situations; on the other is the amount of storage space you can dedicate to preparation and the probability of needing it. For an apocalypse situation, or something approaching it (say, an entire month without basic services), you need to have a source of water (and food) rather than a store of same (which is the point you were making).

    As you point out, water can be abundant but not right away — you often have to process it. In a winter storm situation, that might be as simple as scooping up some snow (but not from where the huskies go!) and melting it. It depends on the situation. Our heroes in White Pickups are well aware of their water vulnerability but want to be cautious about their water source for as long as they can afford to. Planet Georgia can go 2 months without appreciable rainfall some summers, so sooner or later they'll need to take their chances.

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