October 07, 2018

OPINION: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS POINTERS - Water should be at the top of your list

By Marcie Goodman

Water is one of our most precious natural resources on earth, and necessary for survival. In Utah, we may take water for granted.  We do not typically worry about walking over to the sink and accessing all the clean water we want. In emergency situations, however, access to clean water would become critical very quickly.

The rule of thumb for water in emergencies is one gallon per person per day. In other words, if your standard clean water source is disrupted for some reason, you would need to find a gallon per day of trustworthy water to survive (this includes water for drinking, cooking and hygiene). The U.S. government emergency management website (www.ready.gov/water) notes the importance of each household storing sufficient water or water purifying/filtering systems for emergencies. If a major earthquake (7.0 or above) were to occur, grocery store shelves would soon be emptied of all available bottled water and filters. In order to prevent personal or family devastation during such an emergency, storing some water for disasters is highly recommended. 

Tips on storing water

 In general, avoid storing water in any containers that have been used for products such as milk. If possible, purchase gallon jugs of water when on sale or buy larger new containers made specifically to hold liquid of 5 gallons or more (keep in mind, a five-gallon jug of water weighs about 40 pounds, so adjust size based on ability to manage the weight).  Large containers with spouts (50 gallons or more) are also available and can be easily stored in a garage or out on a porch. 

If budgeting, one could use well-cleaned commercial drink 2-liter bottles (such as for orange soda or root beer), but be certain each bottle is completely free of any contaminates or drink residue. If household space is an issue, look for unused areas where stackable water storage units could be housed (see information on “Waterbricks” or rigid stackable containers for ideas). Additionally, owning a highly efficient water filter capable of cleaning any type of standing water is a very sound notion.

Remember that water should be first and foremost on your emergency preparedness checklist. Before you do anything else, make absolutely certain you have enough clean water set aside for at least one week for all family members (one gallon per person per day), or at minimum buy a reliable filter which can produce necessary amounts of water each day. One can live three weeks without food, but only three days without water. In an emergency situation, you do not want to be wondering where your next drink of water will come from.

Dr. Marcie Goodman is a professor of sociology who has taught at the U of U for several decades. She oversees emergency preparedness through her church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Rose Park Stake.