Prepper Lite: We Haven't Completely Bought in, but the Riots... Whew... Make You Think!
Prepper-Lite Part 1: Water
We know we are new to the scene and that nothing is original. We know there are tons of prepper sites online. Many of them are quite intimidating and take prepping very seriously. In fact, to your average Joe, they probably take it way too seriously.
I mean, I just want to know the basics. With COVID-19 and now all these riots...ahem, I mean, peaceful protests going on, I don't think it's the end of the world, but I want to be prepared for the next time WalMart or Costco are out of teepee, or when Amazon runs out of disinfectant wipes. What can I do so that I am in a good spot when things get hairy?
One look at many of these prepper sites and it's like reading an article on how to fix a sailboat or trying to wrap your head around The Standard Model.
On top of that, many of these prepper sites preach "my way or the highway," which we at Opinyuns never adhere to.
So, we decided to create our own category of Prepper Lite articles that make it easy, somewhat affordable, reasonable, and even fun to prep.
This first post, I am going to focus on the absolute basic necessity: WATER!
Before you need anything, you need water. You can go weeks without food (even though it's not a good idea), you can survive without toilet paper (yes, this is a fact), and you don't need your phone! But three days without water isn't territory you want to get near. I mean, not even close. Keep it way far away, like an erupting volcano or twisting tornado.
I've read so many sites on how to store water, how much to store, where to store it, and for what scenario. First of all, if you are like us, you don't necessarily think the world is going to end. And even if it does, no amount of prepping is going to save you. So we prep for more likely scenarios and time frames. Natural disasters or supply shortages, that sort of thing. Cases that last anywhere from a couple days to a couple months tops, but most likely around week.
So if we try to plan for a week without water, we really want to plan for twice that long, you know, just in case. First thing is, you have to plan for drinking water (the cleanest version), cooking water (clean, but not thoroughly clean like drinking water), and washing/rinsing water (not as clean as the other two, but still relatively clean). And since we are prepping to try and avoid shortages or have supplies on hand if a disaster happens and you aren't able to travel far, we'll leave out filtering standing or ground water. Those scenarios are for when things are pretty dire and to be honest, not very likely.
Another thing, we're not going to leave you drowning by using terms like potable water or verbiage like that. Whenever I see that kind of terminology, it turns me off. I feel like the writer is condescending, talking down to me as if they have a position of authority. I know more than you because I use big words and industry terminology, and I know what I'm talking about so you must listen to me because you are dumb.
Instead, we'll say things like, if you live in an apartment in the city, you should think about water storage in different terms than someone who has half an acre and a basement to store water. Very easy to follow and relatable to real human beings.
Water Storage for the Apartment Dweller
That being said, if you live in an apartment in the city or something similar to that where storage space is limited, we highly suggest buying twice the amount of water you normally buy. So if you buy a case of water a week, buy two. Or if you buy a bottle a day, buy two. Put the normal water where you normally put it, and the extra, store it somewhere like under the bed or even under the couch if it fits. Anywhere dark is better so as to keep things like algae growing. As a double benefit, you could store a few bottles in the toilet tank. For one, it's cool and dark and almost always clean since the water is cycled through frequently. And, keeping two or three bottles in there will lower the water capacity of the tank, meaning each time you flush the toilet, you use less water than usual. Good for the bills, good for the environment (if that's something that concerns you), and good for water storage.
In keeping with the toilet, we also suggest getting a few of these. Ironically, they're called Potable Aqua®. They're tablets that will purify most toilet tank water so that it is of drinking quality. You can also get this. It's called the LifeStraw® and yes, it's a straw you could dip into the toilet tank, or even the Los Angeles River if you dare, and drink straight from it. These products are great for city-dwellers low on storage space. A lot of people like the Sawyer® brand water filters too. They are small and very portable, so these are also a great option. And if you have a bathtub, maybe consider this option as well. Even if you don't have a bathtub, you can still use it.
In conclusion, if you are in the city, you are probably the most vulnerable to things like shortages and disasters. Not necessarily because you won't have access, but because the dangers in trying to access these things will be very high. Which is why we also advocate arming yourself if possible. But that's another post altogether.
We recommend taking about a week to really keep track and calculate how much water you use. And if possible, try to use as much water from containers as opposed to the sink. Those in the city, because of the issue of space, might need to consider a week or more without a shower or bath. So, forget about calculating that sort of water usage. Pay more attention to life-preserving water usage. Whatever you calculate (say 5 gallons in one week per person) start storing in empty water bottles, milk bottles (plastic not cardboard cartons), soda bottles, wine bottles, anything reusable and resealable. Just make sure to clean it as best you can.
And remember, water is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to consider when prepping. So before you start to fret about losing space over water storage, keep in mind that if you don't have enough water, the other stuff is not going to be important.
Water Storage for the Home Dweller
And finally, a week's worth is good. Two weeks is better. In fact, the more the merrier, but it's all up to space...which brings me to the suburban prepper.
So, you have a little space and you want to make sure that some of it contains enough water to last you a while. Do what I did. It's easy and it brings an immense peace of mind. If you have a basement, your water storage will not only be safe from most ails that can damage or ruin the basement, but it will also most likely last longer because the water will be out of direct sunlight and cooler because of the lower elevation.
Find a spot in your basement or wherever you plan to store your water and decide what type of storage you want to use. For the home owner or renter, you have a few more options than the apartment-dweller. You can stack a bunch of cases of water bottles, or even a few of these. Or you can do what I did and buy a big 55-gallon drum. The first two options are a lot more portable but also more expensive and take up more space. The drum is a cheaper way to store water, and takes up less space, but it is not at all portable. The drum itself is around 15 lbs. and 55 gallons of water is almost 460 lbs. So unless you're a Strongman, that thing ain't going anywhere, which is why it's important you find a good place for it. Not only one that's dark and cool but also somewhat easily accessible.
Along with the drum, I also got one of these pumps and a special hose to fill the drum straight from my backyard spigot. This hose is free of lead and under normal circumstances, a regular hose isn't an issue (we all drank from the hose when we were kids and we're nowhere near as problematic as today's youth). But filling up a 55-gallon drum takes a while and by using a regular hose, the lead deposits will build up in the drum...not ideal.
Before filling the drum with the water you plan on eventually using (whether in crisis or cycling it out after about a year or so), I suggest you rinse out the drum. If the drum is brand new, rinsing with water only should suffice. But if you bought a used drum, I'd go a step further and rinse it with a cocktail of bleach and water. It should be something close to eight parts water to one part bleach. But whatever the ratio, rinse the drum thoroughly with the concoction for about 20 minutes, then rinse it with only water until the bleach odor is completely gone.
And as a fail-safe, it's been recommended by a few of these more serious prepper sites to add a little Calcium Hypochlorite, otherwise known to pool owners as Pool Shock. Neither of these sound at all safe, but you literally add a 1/4-teaspoon of this stuff to the entire drum of water. And again, it's not necessary. The water should be clean so long as you rinsed out the drum and used the marine-grade (lead-free) hose to fill it. And if stored in a dark, cool place, the water shouldn't ever become unclean. But if you're paranoid enough to store water for a rainy day (pun intended), then the 1/4-teaspoon of chemicals mixed in 55 gallons of water won't harm you, it'll actually keep things like bacteria from forming.
But after about a year, even the cleanest standing water will at the very least become stale. So it is suggested that you cycle the water out. That's why it's important to keep the drum in a spot that isn't a pain to access. If it's been a year and nothing momentous has happened, use it for anything, watering plants, washing dishes, or if you're feeling daring, drinking it from a freshly cleaned glass...hahaha, it should be totally fine to drink.
We are living in strange times. I don't want to go so far as to say that things are dire but I don't remember a time where it felt like something could happen. Of course, I didn't live through WWII or the Civil War or Revolution. Those must've felt like insanely dire times. I can't imagine what it felt like to a family of Native Americans in colonial times, or Jews at any given point in history. But us Americans are facing a strange time where it seems like life as we know it could change. That change could be gradually over time, or sudden and drastic. It's really hard to tell, if it will change at all. But I always try to prepare for the worst and know that it's better to be prepared and not need to use it, than not be prepared and need preparations.
Join me for Part 2 of this ongoing Prepper Lite series of articles when I discuss the second-most important item: food!
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