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Recommendations for how much water to store are usually for short term emergencies. In situations where there’s no water source for three days, governmental agencies recommend a gallon a day per person for three days. That means each person will have two quarts of water for drinking and two quarts for washing, sanitation and food preparation. In other words, if the emergency only lasted three days, a family of four would need 12 gallons of water. That doesn’t take into account pets or longer periods without water.
You need to identify the most probable emergency situations for your area. If you live in a hot climate, add in more water for good measure. If the emergency occurs during hot weather, you’ll be ready with extra water that is used for perspiration and keeping your body temperature under control. After you identify the most probable emergencies, note how long it took or could take, until your situation is back to normal. If you’re accustomed to being without electricity for a week or more and pump your water from a well, make sure your water supply is enough for at least the week.
Most preppers store enough water for at least two weeks, considering pets in the process. While your dog or cat may not need the entire gallon each day, having it available means water for extra needs. If there’s a civil uprising, walking your dog is out of the question, cleaning up messes may be part of those extra needs.
Infants need more water, just as those who are ill or elderly. Older people dehydrate quicker and dehydration can lead to some pretty scary medical symptoms, particularly in the elderly. The elderly tend to lose more fluid because of medications or poorly functioning kidneys. They rapidly dehydrate and that can have severe results, particularly in emergency situations. Babies and younger children also dehydrate because of smaller reserves of water that deplete quickly.
Check your home for emergency water. The hot water heater is one of those. Store large containers in the home and have ways to collect water outside. Make sure you have clean barrels available for both collecting water or bringing snow in to melt in colder climates. Never ration your water for drinking, instead find ways to increase your supplies, rather than risking dehydration.
Have methods of purifying water on hand. They can be anything from boiling to adding disinfectant or water purification tablets or using a purification system. You may need it to treat stored water or gathered water. It’s safer to purify the water, rather than risk a virus, bacteria or parasitic infection. Those can make you sick with both vomiting and diarrhea, which will dehydrate you even faster. Take all the precautions before there’s a need and make sure you’re ready for the next emergency.