Easy but Important Prep You can Do this Weekend

StoredWaterI have a quick but crucial project you can do this weekend.  You don’t even need a whole lot of planning.  It could be low cost, or even no cost because you already have what you need lying around the house.

This weekend, build your emergency water supply.  That’s right, even if you do nothing else to prepare, do it now and you will be more prepared than 80% of the population.

1.  Gather up all the empty soda and juice bottles around the house.

2.  Clean them thoroughly with soap and water.  Don’t leave any soap residue.

3.  Fill them with tap water.

4.  That’s it!  Try to have at least one gallon per person per day to last for a week.  But if you don’t have that much, do it again next weekend, as soon as you have empty containers.

A few more ideas:

Freeze some of the bottles.

Leave some room at the top for expansion, and place some of your bottles in the freezer.  The ice will help you

  • Keep your freezer cold longer if you have a power outage
  • Save electricity, because a fuller freezer is a more efficient freezer
  • Have extra drinking water when the ice melts.
  • You can also use this ice keep your cooler cold on road trips or picnics.

Store extra water for pets’ needs.

Your pets will need water in an emergency – don’t forget to allocate water for them as well.

Improve the taste of tap water

If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, there are a couple of things you can do to make it taste better:

  • Leave the water standing in a lightly (paper towel or cloth) covered pot.  I’ve tried this myself:  our tap water has a chlorine after taste, but I found that if I left the water standing overnight, it taste much better in the morning.
  • I like to run tap water through my Berkey water filter as the water from the old pipes is not crystal clear – this instantly improves that taste and takes out any impurities.   Make sure you check your water filter on a regular basis.
  • A lot of people also add powdered drink mix, or brew iced tea to improve the taste.  A squeeze of lemon, lime or cucumber slices will also improve the taste.

Buy bottled water if you don’t want to spend the time.

If you are super busy and don’t want to spend the time gathering containers and filling them, then allocate $5-$10 this weekend and buy gallon jugs of water.  You can pick them up at the dollar stores and you’ll have 10 gallons instantly.  Make sure you don’t buy the flimsy containers, to avoid a water storage failure.

Bottled water is still good well past the expiration date, as long as they are stored properly and away from gas or chemical fumes.

Find good spots for your water storage

Do not store your water containers near items that give off fumes such as gasoline, kerosene, bags of fertilizer etc. – the fume will affect your water.

If you live in a higher floor of an apartment building, be aware of weight limits when storing large amounts of water.

If you live in a hot, humid area, avoid storing your drinking water in warm spaces like the garage, as it will develop mold or moss.  The water may still be useable for washing or cleaning.

Don’t forget to rotate your water storage.

Every three months or so, use the water you’ve stored for drinking, rinsing, washing or for watering your plants and replace with fresh tap water.

A lot of people wait until an emergency is expected, such as a hurricane warning, before filling up the tub and gathering water.  I’ve been guilty of putting it off too.  Don’t wait.  You never know when your water supply could get interrupted – do yourself and your family a favor – boost your water storage this weekend!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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In an Emergency, Your Life Could Depend on It: Check your Water Filter

Berkey Water Filter

Our tap water has a heavily chlorinated taste.  Instead of buying bottled water, we use our Berkey Light Water Purifier on a daily basis.   Now that we use it all the time, I realized there is some maintenance that goes will using a water purifier, no matter what brand you use.

After using the filter for about three months, I noticed a reddish coating on the water filter elements, so we disassembled the unit.  I started reading about cleaning your water filter.  I also spoke to the “Berkey Guy” to get some information.  The reddish tinge around the water filter elements might be caused by iron in the water, and should be cleaned off.

How to Clean your Water Filter

  1. Take apart the unit and clean the black filter elements under running water will a scrub sponge such as Scotch Brite.  A stiff brush would work as well.  If it seems clogged, follow instructions that came with your individual unit to “prime” the filter.  (As a quick explanation, priming involves holding the filter against a faucet and allowing the water to flow through the filter.  Not all water filters require this-follow your own manufacturer’s instructions)
  2. Do not use very hot or very cold water as this may damage the filters.
  3. Clean the containers with soap and water.  Rinse thoroughly.

How to Tell if the Filter is No Longer Working

The best way to test the water filter is to add red food coloring to the water and allow it to run through the unit.

Berkey Water Filter test

If working properly, the filtered water will be completely clear.  If the red food coloring is not removed, then it is time to replace the filter.

Sport-Berkey-Water-Bottle

Portable Water Filters

The same thing applies to individual filters such as the Berkey Sport Bottle.  I’ve also used the Lifesaver filtration bottle., as well.   The parts should be cleaned and left to air dry completely between uses.  Reassemble only after it has dried thoroughly.  I’ve made the mistake of storing a portable water bottle and it developed mold.

The Berkey Guy also reminded me that the sport bottle filter should not be left out in an overheated car or allowed to freeze.  Extreme temperatures will warp the filter.

Whether you use your water filter on a daily basis or only on emergencies, taking proper care of it will help ensure it functions properly when you need it, for as long as possible.

Mother Earth Food Storage

Mother Earth Products

For beginning preppers

DebtProof Living

Quick Update on Berkey

I just received a notice from The Berkey Guy that they are now shipping the following Berkey Water Purification systems -Berkey Light®, Travel Berkey®, Go Berkey Kit®, Sport Berkey® The Black Berkeys® & PF2 Fluoride & Arsenic Reduction Elements to California residents, effective immediately.  This is great news for California residents who could not order these Berkey systems prior to this.

 

Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

What You Need to Know about Water Contamination

Drainage Canal

If the power grid were to go down for a period of time, municipal water filtration systems may not function properly.  Most of us have heard of “Boil water” ordinances in our own cities when a section of town gets a water main break.  That’s because the water in the area becomes contaminated and is no longer safe to drink.  This can happen in a widespread area if the power grid were to fail for a period of time.

The idea for this post started when reader Dave from Florida sent me an enlightening email about how our water supply is vulnerable.  He works as wastewater operator and therefore has good insight on city water supply systems.  Dave was agreeable to parts of his email included in this article.  Thanks Dave!

Purification Process

Most cities get their their water supply from an aquifer deep underground.  Water normally goes through several stages of the purification process before it gets to your tap.

Sedimentation – Treatment plants pump water into a reservoir as a holding area to allow large solid particles to settle down.   The clear water above the sediment will then be ready for the next stage.

Filtration – The water will go through various materials such as gravel, sand and carbon to remove the smaller particles that affect the taste and appearance of water.

Disinfection – The water is then pumped to a water plant where they will disinfect the water to get rid of bacteria and viruses before it can become potable.  Most areas add flouride.   Opinions vary on the wide use of flouride, as many believe that flouride MIGHT be good for your teeth, but is not meant for ingestion.   But that is for another post.  For now, we will stick to the subject of city water.

When water is cleaned at a plant, chlorine is used to sanitize the water, but it is also largely removed before the water leaves the plant so it doesn’t kill the fish in the streams. Chlorine is considered a pesticide and can be harmful if ingested in large amounts.  Chlorine a.k.a bleach sanitizes the water to make it drinkable.  Regulation states that the water plant has to test the water from time to time at the furthest leg from the plant to ensure that that there is enough chlorine in the water as it gets further away from the plant.  It might make more sense to add chlorine somewhere in the middle between the plant and farthest leg however that would be too expensive.  So the plant increases the chlorine amounts to make sure the farthest areas get enough.  On the downside, if you live close to the plant you are getting much higher doses of chlorine.

backflow preventerThe Role of the Backlow Preventer

Once the water is disinfected it is ready for consumption.  We now take a look at a little known appliance that is installed in your home as it is built and then forgotten: the backflow preventer.   These devices are very important and yet, get very little attention.   The backflow preventer makes sure that water that gets in through your pipe will not go back out through it.  It makes the water flowing into your house a one way stream.

This is important because if the city loses pressure, then the flow can reverse and the outgoing pipes would suck the water back like a siphon.  The backflow preventer is supposed to keep this from happening.

Backflow preventers normally have a lifespan of five years at the very best. Most are only good for two. That means if your house is older, it is very possible that the backflow preventer is not working at all.

Our tap water is safe to drink as long as it never comes in contact with unclean water.  However, “cross connections” can occur.  A cross connection means potable water coming into contact with contaminated water.  For example, a cross-connection can potentially happen if you leave a garden hose lying in puddle of mud.

As long as the backflow preventer is working properly, your cross connections won’t affect you.  But what happens if it stops working?  When the water lines lose pressure you can actually watch the hose drain a giant puddle in your yard as the potable water pipes are sucking it past your backflow preventer and into the water system that feeds all down-flow customers.  Even in a non-emergency situation, cross connections can sully your household’s water if your backflow preventer is not working properly.  Since there is no regulation that governs the maintenance of this key piece of equipment, all your water safety disappears as you or anyone up stream from you can easily cross connect your clean water supply with not-so-clean water.  (Dave did mention that business and industrial backflow preventers are regulated, while residential ones are not.)  It is still possible to have cross connections with businesses in the neighborhood, such as restaurants, allowing small amounts of dirty water in.  The reason you don’t hear about any problems is because there is the dilution factor and the chlorine in your drinking water kills off contaminants that accidentally gets in.

What this means for homes and apartments during a disaster

In a grid down situation, when water is not being filtered properly, the failure of the backflow preventer and contamination due to cross connections can become dangerous to your family’s health.

  • If you are a homeowner, check your records to see when was the last time the backflow preventer was replaced.  Chances are, it was installed when your house was built.  Have your plumber inspect and replace it if needed.
  • In an apartment building, your building management may know when the backflow preventer was last replaced.  However, from my experience, most management companies have high turnover rate and generally are not knowledgeable about such matters.  If the manager does not know, check with the maintenance supervisor.
  • Learn how to shut off the city water from entering your home in the event of a disaster.
  • Keep at least two weeks worth of water for everyone in your household.
  • You should have one gallon per person per day.
  • Learn how to filter water to remove sediment.
  • Have a back up stove to be able to boil water.
  • Choose a good water purifier.  In our household, we use the Big Berkey for everyday use, with a set of back up filter units.
  • Set aside additional water for household use.  I am considering keeping a water barrel in the garage to add to our water storage.

Water is such a necessity and should be a top priority for emergency supplies.  Reconsider your water storage today.

 

ReadyMade Resources is a trusted source for your preparedness supplies:

 

Just Go with the Flow

After months of advising my relatives to get a water filtration system, one of the families finally decided to purchase one.  I had told them about the Berkey, and they thought this is what they purchased.  Well… not really.

From what the family member told me, the booth at the trade show they attended had two filtration systems side by side:

1-  the clear Berkey Light, with the red food dye in the canister above, being filtered clear into the canister below, AND

2 – a stainless steel model right next to it which was not being tested.

They wanted a Big Berkey, the kind with the stainless steel housing.  The salesman started with,”This is just like the Berkey, but these Propur filters are designed to be much better…”  In the end, they paid $239 for the unit and took it home.  Now the adventure begins.  They opened the box, and found nothing was labeled, except for a couple of these small stickers that said “Propur,” and 1 page instruction sheet.  They wanted to make sure they assembled it correctly so they called me and asked me about Propur which I was not familiar with.

Before they arrived, I did a search on the internet and found the Propur website.  It appears Propur has positioned themselves to be a Berkey competitor.  I wanted a thorough review, but I did not find much information on the web.  Thus I decided to test it myself.  I am not an expert, nor I do not have any scientific water purification measures, but I’ve used enough water filters to do a road test.  I contacted ProPur’s Customer Service to see if they could send me published results (similar to what Berkey posted) but they just sent me back to the website.  When I asked where is the unit made, all I was told was “Europe” but nothing more specific.

Propur contents

This is how the Propur unit appeared out of the box

We followed the assembly instructions exactly.  The steps indicated you had to filter two batches of water before it is ready to drink.  Not wanting so waste so much water we filled the top container about halfway with tap water.  We left it alone for about six hours.  After several hours, the water still did not seem to be flowing down.  Not much water was getting purifed.

I called up the seller on their receipt and explained the issue:  not much water is getting through.  The man who answered was not surprised.  He indicated the Propur water filter, when new, will not completely let any water through unless the top canister is completely full.  He said we needed to fill up the entire top canister and let it run through a few times; it may take three days for it to start flowing right.  He also said the top canister will never completely empty out; you will have to keep refilling the top canister close to the top for it to filter properly.  I feel this could be a problem in an emergency if you only have a little bit of water to filter.

Sure enough, once we filled it close to the brim, the unit started running the water through.  We refilled it one more time.  On the third fill up I tasted the water and it did taste better than tap water.   But I was still wondering about its purification abilities, and the amount of contaminants it could filter out.

What I Found Out

After a while I found Debunking the Alternative Choice.  The article does not name names but I am sure who the “alternative choice” is, as they themselves claimed their comparison to Berkey all over their website.  I also ran across the informative article Water Filtration Facts-Pay Attention to the Nines.  In looking at the results posted,  Berkey clearly has more 99.9999% of contaminants covered.

food dye in water purifier testThe final test was the food dye test.  I ran water with orange food dye to see if it would filter the dye properly.  Then I waited…  and waited… and waited some more.  There’s that flow rate problem again.  The rate of water passing through slowed considerably.  I never had this problem with the Berkey.

Propur flow rate

After 4 hours, this is the amount of colored water filtered.

It took over 24 hours for the top container’s orange water to get filtered through.  The resulting water did look clear, and was good tasting.  It also worked well with tap water, as long as you keep the top canister full.  However, this final test tells me if I were actually purifying dirty water in an emergency, these Propur filters would take a really long time.  And in an actual emergency, time is something you may be short on.

Ultimately the family who bought the filter decided to keep the stainless steel container since it works okay, but will replace the filters with Berkey’s.  In my opinion, if you are in the market for a water filter, make sure you are getting the real article.  Some final tips:

  • A few dollars price difference is not worth the frustration and lack of confidence.
  • Research the system thoroughly before you buy
  • Review the list of contaminants and pay attention percentages of substances removed
  • Find out the unit’s about flow rates:  in an emergency you will likely be purifying unclean water which may potentially slow it down considerably
  • Purchase from a reputable source.
  • Find out about return policies.

 

Get the real deal.  Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 

An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies (Iphone or Ipad users)

 

Water Storage Failure

As you know I store supplies everywhere I can, and that includes my closet.  I am not new to water storage mishaps, see Clutter is Costly

It seems having a gallon of water nearly fall on your head does not make you immune to the next misadventure.  I just found out those gallon water jugs are not very sturdy and can spring a leak at any time, even when left alone.  Lucky for me I had a plastic grocery bag wrapped around the container.  There was about a cup of water in the bag so my closet was mostly spared.   I still have to check to make sure the carpet is dried up so mold doesn’t grow.  Ackkk!!

I would not want to find out my water storage has leaked all over just when an emergency happens.  Lesson learned:  Gallon water jugs can fail.  I will have to check them more frequently.   I think I will start collecting soda liter bottles; I have read they are more sturdy.