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My first post from the Man Cave was a quick and somewhat lighthearted look at the events leading up to, and then THE biggest event in our lives.  However, please don’t let my jokes fool you.  They’re cover.  Much of the time I was scared to death.  I’d never even really held a baby before they handed over our own in the delivery room. I  had no idea if all my preparation would work out now that the real thing was squirming in my arms.

For example, do you know babies need you to do everything for them?  I mean everything, up to and including supporting their head so it won’t roll and snap off their tiny little neck.  Yeah, even that.  Want to know something else about a baby’s head?  Each one comes with its own self-destruct button euphemistically called a “soft spot”.  Isn’t that just great?  No, that wonderful design feature is not hidden away somewhere under an armpit, it’s right up on top!

This new Dad obviously had a lot to think about, even though some of this mindset began forming a few years ago after getting married.  There was now a truly helpless family member depending on us… and unfortunately things don’t always go as planned in the real world.  Sometimes a water main bursts.  Sometimes a car crash takes out a power pole.  Each of us live somewhere sometimes susceptible to earthquakes, or hurricanes, or Midwestern tornadoes, or blizzards, or something.  Hopefully problems can be fixed by wonderful guys in white hardhats in no time flat… but sometimes they can’t.

While we all know it’s incredibly important to nurture the mental and emotional needs of our children, and many of us devour dozens of books on how to be “good parents”, I’d wager very few spend any time at all learning and preparing to nurture their kids’ basic physical needs.  I find it ridiculous that most households have a month’s worth of dog food in a big bag in their basement and only a couple days’ worth of people food in the fridge.

So I hope you’ll read along as I share some very simple things we can all do to make sure those we care about most can weather a storm.  Whatever that storm might be.

What are our basic physical needs? (After skipping a pretty important one we can’t do too much about – Oxygen.)

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Security
  4. Energy
  5. Shelter

We’ll start with the top of that list today.

Your average person can survive maybe three minutes without Oxygen, three days without Water, and three weeks without Food.  Obviously good old H2O is pretty important to have around.  The bare minimum amount needed for survival is one liter per person per day, but with that little you’ll be extremely miserable and barely functional.  A more appropriate amount to keep on hand is one gallon per person per day.  Even that is almost all needed for drinking water, so plan for even more for cooking, washing, and sanitation.  Obviously, as you’re more active, which is pretty likely in a stressful situation, it’s necessary to drink more than normal.  Another consideration that now affects our household is the increased hydration needs of a nursing Mom.

A great place to start that won’t break the bank is carting off to your local Sam’s Club, Costco, or grocery store and buying a few cases of bottled water to put aside for emergencies.  You can also go the thrifty way and sock away your own in empty 2 liter pop bottles or other food-safe containers.

But that’s just the start.  All that stored water takes up space, and it’s a finite resource.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So we really need to have some type of water treatment available. I’ve done a lot of research in this area and used quite a few systems personally.  My conclusion is I believe every household should have a Big Berkey Water Filter. It is a little pricey up front, but the long term economics and practicality of this system make it the best option.  There are a few different sizes.  Choose the one appropriate for the number of little stickers on the rear window of your Minivan.

Unlike some so-called water filters you might pick up in the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart that provide a placebo effect and not much else, the Big Berkey removes parasites, cysts, pathogens, most chemicals, metals, and pretty much everything you don’t want in your drinking water. Simply pour in the nastiest water you can find from mud puddles, ponds, streams, rainwater off your roof, or even the tap water after a water pipe breaks and you didn’t see the Boil Advisory on your city’s webpage (where the last style update occurred circa 1999) – because I know we all surf there so often checking for breaking news.  Then give the Berkey a few minutes, and you’re toasting your family’s good fortune.

Perhaps just as important, this system improves the health of your family even when nothing goes wrong.  We use our Big Berkey every day thanks to additional filters installed that remove additional metals, chlorine, and fluoride from our tap water.  Being a public water source so many depend on, I understand the importance of chlorine even though I don’t really want my family to drink it.  However, purposely ingesting fluoride boggles my mind.  Yeah, I guess it’s good to rub some on your teeth every now and then, but what does that have to do with drinking it?  Sunscreen is good for Petey’s skin if he’ll be outside a lot, but I don’t want him to guzzle a pint of Coppertone every day.

The Big Berkey safely removes all of that and provides our family with pure, clean drinking water… and provides me  and Joanna with a little peace of mind that we’ll always have potable water if something does go wrong.  Besides, the wife says the shiny, stainless steel body is pretty.  So it also has that going for it… which is nice.

Another excellent water filter that is a little more compact and mobile is the Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Microfilter.

The Hiker Pro provides a relatively large volume of clean water from such a small unit and rides along with us on every camping and motorcycle trip.

There are other ways to treat your water besides filtering and it’s a good idea to have some of these materials/skills on hand. Redundancy is never a bad thing.

  • Bring untreated water to a rolling boil for a full minute.  You’ll still drink the nasties, but at least they’ll be dead.  Make sure you have plenty of fuel for the reliable heat source you’re counting on.
  • Treat with liquid Chlorine Bleach, about 1/8 teaspoon per gallon.
  • Get creative with coffee filters, bandannas, socks, or anything else since some type of crude filtering is better than nothing at all.
  • Keep in mind there are a few stores of water already in your house.  Your hot water tank and rear toilet tanks (not bowls!)  always contain potable water if ever needed.

 

There is a lot more we could discuss on this important subject, and I know firsthand it can seem overwhelming when you just start thinking about always being in a position to take care of your family’s needs… but hopefully these simple things we can prepare in advance will always keep your household’s Sippy Cups full!

 –Mike

Question of the Day: If your faucets produced dust tomorrow, how many days of water do you have on hand right now?

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5 Comments

  1. Very interesting. I guesd we take things like water for granted. We maybe have a days worth in the fridge. With summer tornado season upon us it is definitely something to think about.

  2. Hey Erika, it’s easy to think that light switch or faucet will always work, huh? 🙂 I can’t imagine what people after Hurricane Katrina or some of the other really big emergencies had to go through. Luckily we only have to deal with a snowstorm every now and then. Hope it always stays that way! Thanks for reading. We appreciate you following along.

  3. I thought that’s what was on your counter…or a big coffee pot!

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