Emergency Water Sense


Get the most from your water in an emergency by observing the following tips:

  1. A Vegetable Water Bin: When you open a can of vegetables, (peas, corn, etc), instead of draining the liquid and throwing it out, drain it into a large bin, covered with a lid.  Drain all of your vegetables in the same bin.  Then when you make a soup, rice, or pasta, you can use this water to cook with instead of having to use fresh water.  The same holds true for any water that you use to cook vegetables in on the stove.  Suppose you use just a tad bit of water to steam your cabbage in, for example.  Rather than discarding the water, put it in your vegetable water bin instead.
  2. canned-fruitSave Your Canned Syrups: The same goes for canned fruits, however, the water in these cans tends to be thicker, and certainly sweeter.  You can use this “syrup water” to sweeten grain dishes for breakfast such as oatmeal, cracked wheat, etc.  It’s also a great substitute for water in many baked good recipes.  You can also use this liquid to make a “sweet milk” with your powdered milk and have a very pleasant taste.  It’s yet one more way to ensure your children get their nutrients from powdered milk.
  3. Re-Use Your Bath Water: In the “olden days” it was not uncommon for multiple family members to reuse bath water.  While a bit of hot water may need to be added, a couple of baths does not constitute needing to throw it out.  You can reuse your bath water to wash laundry in.  If you use biodegradable bath soap, then you can also use your bath water to water your garden with as well. 
  4. Washing Dishes to the Two-Step: When you wash your dishes, have two bins of water, one for washing, and one for rinsing.  When you need to dispose of your wash water, then use your previous rinse water to wash in.  Yes, you will need to add some more hot water, but it’s obviously a lot less than starting with a new bin of water.  Also, the biodegradable soap is a good idea in this case as well.  (As stated previously, I highly recommend using the Shaklee products in this case as they take up much less of your storage space, have multiple uses, and are complete environmentally friendly.  For more info go to www.shaklee.net/earlene)  
  5. Use Paper Goods When Possible: Instead of using dishes for everything, be sure you have paper goods on hand so that you can conserve the amount of water needed for cleaning.  The paper goods also serve as good kindling when you’re making a fire to cook with. 
  6. lsDAMIANOCatch Rain Water: Unless you live in Colorado which forbids its citizens from catching rain water, you should indeed set yourself up to do so.  Simply place an open bucket (I recommend a 55 gallon one) at the base of your roof’s run off.  You will be shocked at just how fast you can fill up a 55 gallon container with just a couple of mild rain storms. This water can be used for drinking once it’s pasteurized, and it certainly can be used for watering your garden, cleaning, bathing, etc.  Don’t overlook what the good Lord can provide you.  Capture it.
  7. Catch Bath Water: My husband and I have procured a “solar shower” so that we can enjoy a shower in times of “roughing it” rather than using a tub.  However, we’ve also purchased a large, shallow, plastic bin about the size of a mini-shower floor.  We’ve done so in an effort to capture even the shower water in order to be able to reuse it.
  8. Alternative Bathing Method: I lived on a very rustic farm periodically as a kid.  We didn’t have the luxury of a bath tub or a shower.  Instead, when we needed to bath, we simply filled up a plastic bin with hot water.  We then used a washcloth and soap to clean ourselves up.  Nothing fancy.  But it works just fine, and is a valuable approach to bathing when water is a scarce commodity.  We grew up calling this a “spit bath.”  
  9. Save Your Pasta Water: In addition to having a veggie water bin, and a fruit water bin, I would indeed recommend having a pasta water bin to store the water in which you cook your pasta, rice, and other starches in.  This water is ideal for thickening sauces, soups, and casseroles.  
  10. Avoid Running Water Actions: Most brush their teeth with running water.  You’ll have to get over that habit real quick in a time of emergency.  Out of necessity while living in the Philippines, I discovered, lo and behold, that I didn’t need to wet my toothbrush prior to brushing my teeth.  And I can simply use a cup of water to rinse my mouth and my toothbrush with.  The same holds true for hand washing.  If you wash your hands first in a more communal bin for the tough stuff and then just rinse them off with fresh water, you’ll conserve a lot of water.  

Overall, before discarding a liquid, ask yourself what else you can possible use the water for?  As you may recall, it is recommended that you store 1 gallon, per person, per day for whatever time period you’re preparing for.  (I plan on a year.)  This gallon of water is intended for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning.  However, is it a MINIMUM recommended amount.  Putting these conservations tips into practice will help you stretch that gallon to its maximum capacity.

For more on storing water, click here.

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Wow!! That is some excellent advice about water usage that I have never thought about. Thanks!

This is a great article -- thanks.

Thanks for your feedback lynnaea

Two bin dish washing cut down on how much stored water we used after Hurricane Ike, as did the 5 gallon solar showers, and spit baths. I used the potable water for both, and non-potable only for washing clothes. We drank water out of the frozen soda/water bottles I'd stored in the freezer/fridge to keep our perishables longer (blankets on the fridge helped keep in the cold). It was nice having cool water, even after I had to transfer food to the igloo as we ate it, or it finally went bad about 5 days after losing power. But I cooked the meat we couldn't eat for the cats and neighbors pets -- better than throwing it away, especially with interrupted trash pickup.

I washed the clothes in the tub because I hadn't bought my hand-crank barrel washer at the time. If I had bought a new, clean plunger before the hurricane, I could have used it in a 5 gallon bucket, but I didn't think of it. It would have been cheaper than the barrel washer.

I just placed a big order for food, wheat grinder, and water storage supplies. I ordered 2x55 gallon barrels. Even if we don't get a hurricane, if we flood deeply enough, our city water might get contaminated. I'm also going to order one of those bathtub bags from WaterBob or HEWS; those store 100 gallons, and are less than half the price of a rain barrel (but not as sturdy).

Thanks SO much for such excellent and helpful comments. I had been exposed to the bathtub bags eons ago and had forgotten about it. Good call!

Thanks for the excellent tips.
Read on another website somewhere, that it was suggested to take the large liquid dishsoap sized containers like you would get at Costco and fill the with water when they are empty. Mark the container as "SOAPY". There is enough residual soap in the container to still use this for cleaning in an emergency.

Great article. Very good suggestions. How long and how do you store the juice from canned fruit and vegetables?


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