Saturday, February 1, 2014

Resource Managment - WATER, by Z.H.T. | Survival Blog

You can see several large tanks off the back of the house which are used to collect rain water from the roof.  One square foot of roof can yield ½ a gallon of water from 1 inch of rain.  So roughly estimating for this roof, one inch of rain yields over 1200 gallons of water! via

One of the reasons that I love watching movies and reading books, particularly those of the apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic variety, is because I occasionally learn a little tid-bit of useful knowledge that may one day benefit me.

One of my favorite movies and novels of this genre is “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. While it is a fantastically bleak and powerful work, it still provided me a teaching moment that has been invaluable. In one of the opening scenes of the movie, we see that something dire has happened. Though we are never told what it is, we assume that it is either the precursor to, or is the extinction event itself, that drives the plot of this movie. The dad, whose name we are never told, immediately fills any basin in the house with water. He stops up the sinks and tubs. He fills any and all containers with water.

Additionally, we learn that he keeps his family inside his home, blocks windows, locks doors, but most importantly, keeps an extremely low profile in order to avoid any attention from the outside. We aren't told if he, his wife, and his child stay inside 100% of the time, but we do know that the wife is slowly driven crazy with such a meager existence. We also learn that it is understood that life outside is death, for whatever reason, as she eventually departs and is never seen again.

What I find interesting is the relationship between the man's actions early in the movie and his ability to outlast most everyone else. It's obvious that his ability to avoid confrontation as well as make quick decisions provided great dividends in the future. Simply said, his willingness to stay bunkered down in his house, despite being well-equipped, served him greatly. While there may have been many other ancillary reasons, it can be safely assumed that riding out the storm was the most important and intelligent thing he could have done. Yet, without the proper resources, it would have led to death just as the outside world also promised. However, he was able to take stock of what he had, maximize it, and realize that he didn't have to survive forever on these items. He just had to survive everyone else.

How was he able to do this when it was obvious that he hadn't taken any great pains to prepare, as we have so discussed? How would I be able to apply this to my own situation, should the circumstances of this movie arrive at my doorstep? Going back to the single action that I identified earlier. He immediately stopped what he was doing and maximized the single most important resource he would need to survive and outlast. He stockpiled water.

Ever since I saw this movie, almost a decade ago, that one moment has stuck with me. This was before I even considered myself a casual prepper. I saw what he did, and I applied it to my checklist of things to do in the event of any emergency. To be fair, I had some experience with this exact problem back when I was a teenager. My area was devastated by a large F4 tornado that went right through my homestead. We lived on top of a hill surrounded by woodland. The downed trees trapped us on top of the mountain for several weeks. It became evident what resource was truly precious after about 3 days. Sure, we were down to eating things for meals that we would never have normally considered "dinner"-- potted meat and canned tomatoes, for instance. Still, we were fed. What we didn't have was water. See, living on top of a hill, we had a booster pump to supply water to us. With no electricity, we had no water. It took two days to drink all the sodas and juices. After two days of profuse sweating and hard work, it was hard to be around each other due to a lack of hygiene. The hard work and sweating was affecting the hydration of our bodies without pure water around. That isn't to say we were in any danger of dying or anything. We weren't. We had friends come help us after a day or two, but it has always stuck with me how quickly the water was gone, how precious it is, and just how much a human needs it to function.

It doesn't take much time in researching other common natural and unnatural disasters to see what is the number one supply brought in by aid programs. Additionally, after disasters, the most common cause of sickness and death (other than trauma) is diseases through contaminated water supplies or dehydration itself. According to some quick research, the human man needs around three liters a day just to function. A woman needs a little less at 2.2 liters. As everyone knows, it only takes about 48 hours to die of dehydration, and that doesn't cover the extra needed by people under physical duress. Additionally, water is needed for more than drinking. It's needed for waste control, hygiene, and other things. It doesn't take a genius to do some simple math to come up with the needs for your family on a day or month basis. For my family of five, which includes my wife, me, and three children, let's say we need 12 liters or a little over 3 gallons a day or around 90 gallons a month;ut 100 is a nice round number, so let's use that number instead. We need 100 gallons a month for consumption alone. Additionally, I started thinking about how much time a family might need to buy themselves, hunkered down, to wait it out. As we have seen after many disasters, researchers' numbers suggest that when supplies dry up, there is a high death rate right at 30 days. That number sounds good to me. Let's go with it. We want to stay bunkered for 30 days in typical urban America. Our critical resource is water, so we need a minimum of 100 gallons for consumption alone.

With that in mind, I started wondering about all the different ways that you could meet this demand. Keep in mind that I am considering only people living in urban areas where you have people living next door and across the street. You don't have a water supply such as a stream or river that you can easily get to, and if you could, you wouldn't because you don't want to expose yourself to the outside. So, I thought of several ways to bunker up and meet your water quota. You could store it last minute using available containers. You could buy a supply of water. You could source water from the rain or try recovering the water with a "closed loop" approach. Immediately, I (and I know you) identify potential problems with each of these solutions. All you smart people are already thinking, “You will need a combination of these”. Well, for those that aren't so savvy, let's talk it out.

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