Water Treatment & Containment
The 1-2-3 of H2O
You need to provide 1 gallon of water (3.7 liters) per person per day for you and your family if you don't have access to clean water or a faucet. A half gallon (2 liters) is what you need for drinking each day - in warm weather or during periods of high stress or activity that amount could double. So understanding proper water treatment for drinking is super important.
What's left is for hygiene, which is critical for maintaining health and comfort. Don't skimp! You will need to wash your hands frequently especially if suddenly exposed to large groups of people in over-crowded situations.
A gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds. A 3-day supply will weigh 25 pounds. That's probably already the total weight of your Bug But Bag! So carrying a 3 day supply may just not be possible. Especially true if you are bugging-out on foot. If you have use of a vehicle then you have more options: water bottles, 5-gallon buckets, etc.
For weekend road-trips we bring our own water along and we use stainless steel Fusti 5 liter (3.9 gal) containers with spigots. These come in all sizes and are really useful. We also have a 50 liter for two weeks supply of water for two, or in case overly thirsty in-laws stop over.
Understanding the risks
Sorry, you can't bring the faucet
So you need to find water - can you just mosey up to the nearest pond or lake or pool and start drinking? As delicious as that sounds, no, you cant. Not unless you like to get sick. There are all manner of things you need to be careful of when going for unknown water: bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. There is a great article about that from REI that is required reading here and the US CDC page here gives you more info here.
It's easy to become a little paranoid about the whole thing, but the bottom line is you should have a way to purify enough water to get you through a week or more. The good news is you have several different options. Having more than one option is a very good thing...so keep that in mind while reading the list below.
Bacteria, Viruses, & Chemicals
Water can be treated at home should the need arise by using bleach, iodine, boiling, or swimming pool shock. The US Center for Disease Control has an excellent page about home treatment here. Go ahead and look at that page now, and share it with as many people as you can. It's incredibly important information.
The only way to be completely sure your water is safe from bacteria and viruses is to boil it. Once the water has reached boiling temperature you have raised it enough to destroy them. However, this may not protect you from potential chemical contamination.
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Go Berkey Kit plus Sport Berkey Bottle
Go Berkey Kits can take raw-untreated water from almost any source and purify it, removing bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. It uses a ceramic element in a gravity fed system to do the trick in the GO, or you can use suction with the smaller filter in the SPORT (or get the Sport by itself). The only downside to the GO is it's size, it isn't really backpackable. It takes about an hour to purify a gallon.
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
This system is top-notch. Only weighs 2 oz! Filters up to 10,000 gallons (the secret is it's back washing system) with a 0.1 micron filter. That covers you for bacteria and viruses. Consider replacing the supplied bag and straw with a Platypus PlusBottle and Camelbak Tube. Put it in-line with a water bladder system, ala a Camelbak Antidote.
Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water System
This thing is tiny, and can remove 99.9 percent of cryptosporidium and Giardia. It's a great backup, but it's main limitation is the amount of water it can safely filter, about 20 gallons. That's fine for a short term use however, and since it's so easy to pack, this is a great option for bacterial protection.
Portable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
If boiling is not possible, treat water with chemicals. Try to filter sediment by using a coffee filter, t-shirt, or whatever you can to make it as clear as possible. Each Potable Aqua tablet contains 20 mg of Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide, which liberates 8 mg of titratable iodine when used. In 30 minutes the iodine will make the water safe to drink.
Don't go nuts with water
You have a million options when it comes to carrying water, but once you really consider some of the conditions you may face in a bug out situation, your options shrink pretty fast. Remember, you need to be able to boil your water to truly ensure it is bacteria and virus free (if possible.) Therefore we feel you must have at least one stainless steel container 32oz or larger. (Keep in mind that this would mean boiling water 4 times a day to meet your 1 gallon drinking needs.) Don't go too much larger though as weight could be an issue.
Kleen Kanteen Reflect Bottles
Price: $20 and up
We use these everyday and they come everywhere we go since we gave up bottled water. You can boil water in these to purify. You can store water in your trunk for months (beware of freezing temps.) Fill them up from your Berkey. They pay for themselves within weeks.
Guyot Stainless Steel Bottle
32 oz bottle with wide-mouth and tapered bottom. Fits nicely into a GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Bottle Cup/Pot. You can also fashion a bail handle to lift it into and around fires. Can be used to boil water or clobber intruders.
1 liter collapsible bottle with screw top. Can be used with many standard fitting tops and filters. Packs very small and light when not in use. BPA Free. Works nicely with the Sawyer system. Easy to fill from water fountains.
Camelbak 100oz Antidote
The most trusted brand in water bladders. Step-up model from the originals, extra durable. Different sizes available. Can be used with an in-line water-filter for quick collection. Nearly an entire days supply of drinking water. Fill up before leaving home, despite the initial weight, you'll have at least 24 hours to find more.
Aginox 5L Stainless Steel Fusti
Store water long-term without plastics (less durable, can leach chemicals) and do as the Italians and use a Fusti. Traditionally used to store wine, milk, and olive oil: they can keep water fresh and uncontaminated for months or more. 5L more-or-less covers you for 72 hours. Also comes in 25L and 50L sizes for long term storage.
waterBOB Emergency Drinking Water Storage
A cheap way to store 100 gallons of water is the waterBOB storage bag + pump system. It sits in your bathtub when full. Best to fill before a big storm hits that could flood or break water lines or wells. Can be reused if sterilized after each use with bleach.
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