Water storage and purification are among the most critical elements of an emergency preparedness plan. When disaster strikes, plentiful, safe drinking water becomes the most essential key to survival. While the average person can survive several weeks of hunger, his life is in jeopardy after only a few days without water. Because no one can predict the extent or the duration of the disaster’s aftermath, water storage and purification plans must consider all possible contingencies that involve digging in or bugging out.
If the circumstances allow for digging in, your water storage plans should account for enough water to supply each person with one gallon per day. One 150 gallon water tank or bladder could serve the needs of a family of four for a month which may be fine for most weather disasters. Man-made disasters tend to leave a much more consequential aftermath in their wake that could require digging in for months. How long a family can remain hunkered down comes down to the practical issue of storage capacity. Planning for a six month stay means having to store at least six water tanks. That may be practical for some people, however, it is probably beyond the capacity of most.
The critical issue is when digging in is no longer an option. If your bug out plan involves an escape to a secure destination or retreat, water storage solutions can be addressed in advance. If the journey to safety can be accomplished within a few days, a water storage bladder stored on your vehicle can suffice. Should contingencies arise that cause you to abandon your vehicle, such as a breakdown, an accident or an assault by thugs, water storage must give way to water purification.
Bugging out on foot renders water storage impractical and it increases reliance on natural sources. A sound bug out plan includes alternate hiking routes that hug streams, rivers or lakes, so that that access to water is not an issue. The problem becomes surviving the potential illness caused by contaminated water.
Every bug out checklist should include a water purification device as well as backup devices or methods. One of the preferred devices is a ceramic filter. Although they can be more expensive than other devices, they have proven their worth in the most severe survival situations. Considered to be safer, more convenient, more durable, and more efficient, ceramic filters provide the best overall value. One consideration of ceramic filters is that they work primarily to eliminate organic contaminants and not chemicals. This would only be a concern if you were in the proximity of an industrial plant or farm. Otherwise, they would serve your purification needs very well.
As a backup, a portable filter should also make the bug out checklist. Their only real limitation is that they are exhausted after about 200 gallons of filtration. As long as they can be used as a backup, they are extremely valuable to have in the bag. They are small enough to be able to pack two or three. The upside is that some models , such as the Hiker Pro, are capable of removing chemical contaminants which would come in handy if you were forced to pull water from a source that is near industrial or farming facilities.
Having a ceramic filter along with portable backups should be enough to pull you through an extended hiking expedition. But if you haven’t considered all of the possible “what ifs” you could find yourself in a difficult situation. There are many possible scenarios whereby you could lose your bug out bag or forced to abandon it. Your backup purification plan needs to include backup purification methods.
Boiling water has been a method of purification for centuries and is used in camps and kitchens today. It may not be the most convenient or practical method if you are forced to flee trouble especially for an extended period of time. The amount of resources and time it takes to purify a daily intake of drinkable water would impede your movement and expose your party to human or animal threats. Still, it is a back up method that can be utilized in the right situations.
Another backup method that can be utilized is solar disinfection. If you are able to carry or find empty plastic bottles, of the clear type used for sodas, you can use the disinfecting power of the sun’s UV-A rays to eliminate bacteria in the water. You simply fill them with river, lake or stream water, cap them and then lay them on their side to soak up the direct sunlight. After baking for a day (a couple of days in cloudy conditions), you have drinkable water.
There are many devices and methods that can be considered as part of your bug out plan. The important thing is to have a primary device, one or two backup devices, and prepare yourself with rudimentary backup method. With each additional link in the plan, your chances of surviving an extended hiking bug out increase exponentially.
Other articles in this issue:
- Will the Elections Make Any Difference? 
- Big Brother Wants To Know What Websites You Visit 
- How to Fight Off Aches and Pains – At Any Age – And Retain Your Youthful Vigor