An Emergency Water Epiphany

Wurkkos

Linger

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I am currently working on a hard copied "documentation project"

Excellent.
Your approach is very endearing, being so straight-forward and unassuming.
A lot of your craft is very similar to leave no trace trekking and backpacking. You are trying to minimize your impact on your environment (your house) so that you can remain there for a very long time. The sanitation posts are all about keeping your house (ney camp site) from deteriorating during your long stay.
The Backpacker's Field Manual was my entry into leave no trace. But urban environments have their own constraints. You address them very well.

Are you gonna put out a book and start a speaking / consulting tour? :poke:
 

Sub_Umbra

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This is a great topic for this thread. Very little thought is given to plumbing kinks and tweaks that may make your house much easier to live in during an emergency.

As turbodog noted, there must be a provision for disconnecting your pressure plumbing from the muni system in an emergency to avoid sucking potentially contaminated water into your tank(s). It's funny -- everyone writes how you may drink the water in your water heater in an emergency but almost none mention that if you just turn on your tap after during a water crisis one of two things will happen. You'll either possibly contaminate your water stored inline or else you won't be able to get any of it out because you won't be able to 'break the vacuum.'

Remember that if you have any leaky faucets or a runny toilet and you're not home or have neglected to shut your house off from the city during an event that contaminates the muni water, it will be sucked into yours -- contaminating it. On the other hand, if your plumbing is all tight the water in your system should be good even if it's not cut off from the city as long as no one has used any water since the event. Even if the water in your system becomes suspect it's not the end of the world. It may still be treated and used -- at least you'll have some water to work with.

As already mentioned, thoughtfully placed valves will solve this problem at installation time but there is a refinement or two that may save you money on the whole setup and add utility to your system also.

Instead of using valves both high and low for cutoff, access and vacuum breaking consider 'waste couplings' in the higher places for breaking vacuums. A waste coupling is just a normal coupling for joining two lengths of pipe with the addition of a small,threaded, gasketed cap or plug built into it which may be loosened or removed to drain water from a line directly or to break the vacuum so the line may be drained from a lower location.

They cost just a little more than standard couplings but not as much as valves do. They are also much smaller than valves and may be installed in places a tee and valve won't fit. Decide just where you will need them and then give it some more thought before installation. They should be installed so they are oriented in such a way as to make their access as quick and easy as possible when they must be used. If all of the plumbing is going in new and not a retrofit be sure that no pipes or equipment as yet uninstalled will block access.

Also consider S&W valves (Stop and Waste) for some locations. Like the waste couplings, S&W valves have a little plug or cap built in so that after the line has been shut off with the valve part, the dead side of the line may be easily and quickly drained without cutting into the pipe. The S&W valve may also be used for vacuum breaking and it also has the advantages of being cheaper and much smaller than tees and spigots.

Here's another use for S&W valves and Waste couplings for enhancements to pressure plumbing systems for those who live in cold weather locales. If your power goes down long enough and it's cold enough outside you may be hit by a triple whammie. Your pipes may freeze. You may be without water for the duration of the crisis. When it's over you not only have the costly plumbing repairs to make and pay for but also the costs incurred by all of the water damage.

A little thought and planning and the use of a few S&W valves and Waste couplings may save you a bundle of money and make your plumbing more robust by an order of magnitude and save you a world of grief both during and in the aftermath of cold weather power outages.

In the 70s I owned a house in a cold weather clime that needed all new plumbing. I came up with a plumbing plan that made it easier to deal with three potential problems associated with cold weather threats to plumbing. I'll use it as an example.

If you're putting in a new pressure system where it's cold the first thing to consider is the slope of the pipe runs. This is virtually never considered in pressure systems but it may save you thousands of bucks -- and headaches. Modern home pressure water systems are not designed to be drained easily by the owner. Normally one must call a plumber who blasts the water out with a compressed gas like co2 or else the water is displaced with some toxic fluid that won't freeze. Both of these are costly, creepy and complicated solutions to a problem that won't even exist in a well designed system. That's where the slope comes in -- it allows you to build a system you may safely evacuate in minutes. Plumbers want you to have to call them to drain the lines.

In planning, I looked at what part of the house was hardest to keep warm and designed it so that zone could be shut down and drained with nothing but a screwdriver in just a moment. I also had an 'intermediate' zone which was nothing more than allowing the cold faucet at the kitchen sink to function while the rest of the house's water was shut down and drained. Finally, at the core I could still get cold water from the tanks in the basement even though all water was shut down and drained from all of the other pipes throughout the rest of the house.

This isn't rocket science. It does involve regarding your house as a shelter, something not done often these days.

This kind of planning may not only minimize plumbing damage during really cold emergencies but also, If the worst should happen and your plumbing should sustain some damage your family will be able to go on day to day using water while the repairs are underway since only the affected parts of the plumbing will need to be shut down.

It may sound complex but if you were planning to do it yourself anyway it's really not much more than an added detail here and there.
 
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Sub_Umbra

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...Are you gonna put out a book and start a speaking / consulting tour? :poke:
The DOC project is HUGE. It's all the stuff I still want access to if for some reason I can't access the files on the big thumb drive. I've been putting it off for years.

Just the food and water stuff runs over 200 pages... I also didn't write most of it so it couldn't be included in any book by me. :sigh: The DOC project will help me from an organizational point of view for future dissemination. I'm in the final planning stages of starting a preparedness blog but current events have pushed that to the back burner for now. Oh yeah...

As far as the consulting goes -- I'm wrapped way too tight for that. Heck, I haven't even been out of New Orleans since '97. :D Actually, like Chef in Apocalypse Now, I'm "...even wrapped too tight for New Orleans."
 
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Linger

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The DOC project is HUGE. It's all the stuff I still want access to if for some reason I can't access the files on the big thumb drive. I've been putting it off for years

I'll stay tuned for details. I've had much the same thought a while ago. I suspect many are in this boat with me, that we can all rebuild or fix just about anything with google. But just how many schematics and diagrams (heck, even destructive incan bulb ratings) exist in paper form, or do we have run-time for on our laptops?
 

vtxrecruiter

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A lot of this is academic. Not in the sense that you won't use the water or need the water, but that perfectly clean water is required.

I don't care about a little algae growth. It's not gonna affect taste, nor will it give me the runs. I'm concerned about e. coli, giardia, and the like contaminating it.

I have drank water that was stored in UN-sterile containers for over a year. It tasted fine. Only later did I discover the mold growth in it. And this process has happened several times.

But, for those that want to store plenty of water, there is some company that sells bladders that go under your bed. They hold several hundred gallons and don't cost a lot.

If there _is_ a threat to the water we simply fill the sinks and tubs. It takes very little time to clean a tub, and I would have no problem drinking the water that comes from it.

Ask yourself how many times you drank bathwater as a kid. I think you will find you body is tougher than you think.

Good advice. POTABLE is not sterile. It means "non harmful".

Has anyone here suggested a cistern???????
I have gutters, and my downspouts can be replaced with flex hose tubes, and those hoses can be routed to a portable water tank that I bought at Rural King for 220 bucks on sale (normally 250 ish) it could be mounted on a trailer frame (harbor freight) if you don't have a truck. I use this for FREE garden and cow water.... In an emergency if I have no water, even a brief rain collected from my roof will fill this tank fast. 1/2 inch of rain on a 1200 Sq. ft roof is a LOT of water...
Go here to find the tank:http://www.ruralking.com/tank-pickup-450-gallon.html
Add a battery pump and you can even take showers without filling a gravity bag...

I learned about cisterns in the Army while taking a class on field sanitation and hygene. The instructor showed us some simple systems.
 

Sub_Umbra

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While many kinds of algae may be harmless to consume in and of themselves those who filter their drinking water will want to keep their filters clear of them so that they will remain functional. We have filtered all of our drinking water for over ten years (for coli, giardia, crypto and all of the other usual suspects) and wouldn't want it going down when we may need it most just because of algae.

Roof runoff has long been a part of our 'water plan.' Two and a half weeks after Katrina blew threw we picked up 85-95 gal in just a few minitues as Rita approached. The most important things are to (1) study your situation ahead of time so you'll know where the most water will run off and (2) have all of your containers cleaned and ready to go.

For a permanent installation there are plans and even ready made products that will dump the first few minutes of runoff so it may carry away most of the dust settled on the roof since the last rain.
 
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turbodog

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No thanks on the rainwater from the roof, unless I just use it for flushing toilets. I don't care for the flavor of bird droppings in my water. This isn't the bird equivalent of civet cat coffee.

Good advice. POTABLE is not sterile. It means "non harmful".

Has anyone here suggested a cistern???????
I have gutters, and my downspouts can be replaced with flex hose tubes, and those hoses can be routed to a portable water tank that I bought at Rural King for 220 bucks on sale (normally 250 ish) it could be mounted on a trailer frame (harbor freight) if you don't have a truck. I use this for FREE garden and cow water.... In an emergency if I have no water, even a brief rain collected from my roof will fill this tank fast. 1/2 inch of rain on a 1200 Sq. ft roof is a LOT of water...
Go here to find the tank:http://www.ruralking.com/tank-pickup-450-gallon.html
Add a battery pump and you can even take showers without filling a gravity bag...

I learned about cisterns in the Army while taking a class on field sanitation and hygene. The instructor showed us some simple systems.
 

LuxLuthor

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I bet some people in New England wish they had better prepared for recent events, and to think Irene hit only as a tropical storm. Interesting to see this thread and imagine what Sub & Mrs. Umbra went through with Katrina. I was thinking of ordering this paperback.

Despite storing up about 8 gallons of water run through my RO filtration system, I began to realize once they turn off the water pressure supply, you need a Katadyn type simple filter.
 

Sub_Umbra

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I've never read any of Rawles' books but he is an interesting guy. He has a catastroficist mindset (abrupt, total collapse of society with hordes of zombies streaming from the cities) but I try to keep up with his site, which is huge. His site covers such a broad range of topics that there is probably something there for nearly any prepper. He has a Links page that I have totally mined out.

I'm also a really a big fan of Peak Oiler James Michael Greer, Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America and author of The Archdruid Report which comes out every Wednesday night. NOTE: The Archdruid Report is not about Druidism or any other religion at all -- it's more of a peak oil blog that relates to the slower catabolic collapse of industrial society..
 
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Obijuan Kenobe

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As a medical scientist I have access to distilled, deionized water. In theory, as long as it's kept in an inert container, I presume I should be able to keep it indefinitely.

Have you ever drank this water? You are not much of a scientist if you don't know that this water will eventually kill you if you drink it exclusively. You know, osmolarity and stuff.

I guess I am assuming you are talking about 15mOhm or 18mOhm pure lab water, in which case it's pure and clean...and pretty corrosive as far as water goes. Tastes good, though.

obi
 

bluemax_1

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Awesome thread! Thanks for providing PLENTY of food for thought.

BTW, since there's so much info here, one thing I didn't see mentioned are Sawyer filters. Backpacking filters that are designed for gravity fed setups and even potentially direct feed setups (attach filter to squeeze pouch, squeeze the pouch and filter water directly into your mouth).

The filters use an interesting technological innovation used in dialysis machines. Basically, hundreds of microtubes in a semi loop. The microtubes have tiny holes along their lengths. The manufacturing process produces consistent hole sizes and water enters the tubes through the holes and flows out the ends of the tubes (which are housed in a shell).

They have filters that filter to 0.1 micron and purifiers that filter to 0.02 micron (yes, that's zero point zero two micron, eliminating even viruses).

http://www.sawyer.com/sawyersaves/products-pointtwo.html

The purifier doesn't flow the fastest, but for bugging in flows well enough, although pre-filtering the water and priming the system help a great deal. The filter flows fast enough to filter 4 gallons in ~3 minutes.

Best thing about this filter? If you backflush it regularly to prevent clogging, it's supposed to last up to 1,000,000 gallons. Avoid letting the filter freeze though, as any water freezing inside the tubes can/will crack/break them destroying the filter's integrity.

For backpacking purposes, I paired the Sawyer filters with the Platypus GravityWorks setup (the GW bags are very convenient). Easily rolled up, filters water quickly and easily and I added 2 Katadyn activated carbon inline filters to the system. The filter takes out parasites and bacteria (the purifier removes parasites, bacteria AND viruses) and the carbon filters take out chemicals, heavy metals and a large amount of tannin (if you filter water from ponds filled with dead leaves).

I used the Katadyn carbon filters because unlike the GravityWorks carbon filter add on, the Katadyn filter is made to be reused. You can open the Katadyn carbon filter and replace the activated carbon with new activated carbon (available much cheaper in bulk online).



Max
 

bluemax_1

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Oh, and on the topic of cooking. I used to have a Trangia alcohol stove backpacking kit back in the day. No idea where it's gotten to. Last year I got an Esbit knockoff and am very pleased with it.

The Esbit kit has 2 nonstick pots (2.1-liter and 1.75-liter?), a lid, a nonstick frying pan, the stand and heatshield/windshield, a couple of plastic/rubber plates and the alcohol stove, plus a pot gripper, pot holder/mat, and a drawstring bag that everything nests into.

The pots have this heat exchanger on the bottom that seem to do a really good job of harnessing the heat. I run it exclusively on Heet fuel additive moisture remover in the yellow (NOT red) bottles available in any auto section in the US (up in the colder states anyway).

Aside from camping, I actually used this set to cook all my meals indoors for a week (mostly soup, ramen noodles and boiling water, but also frying up some eggs etc.), even using it indoors (placed the whole setup in the bottom half of a large fancy cookie tin to deal with any potential spills or heat). Worked great. One bottles of yellow Heet lasts for many uses.

It's also very quiet. One of my camping buddies uses a Dragonfly white gas stove. Darned thing sounds like an mini jet afterburner. You can hear it in the woods from a hundred yards away when it's quiet at night. The alcohol stove on the other hand, makes less noise than the water boiling and bubbling in the pot.



Max
 

KITROBASKIN

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Oh, and on the topic of cooking. I used to have a Trangia alcohol stove backpacking kit back in the day. No idea where it's gotten to. Last year I got an Esbit knockoff and am very pleased with it.

The Esbit kit has 2 nonstick pots (2.1-liter and 1.75-liter?), a lid, a nonstick frying pan, the stand and heatshield/windshield, a couple of plastic/rubber plates and the alcohol stove, plus a pot gripper, pot holder/mat, and a drawstring bag that everything nests into.

The pots have this heat exchanger on the bottom that seem to do a really good job of harnessing the heat. I run it exclusively on Heet fuel additive moisture remover in the yellow (NOT red) bottles available in any auto section in the US (up in the colder states anyway).

Aside from camping, I actually used this set to cook all my meals indoors for a week (mostly soup, ramen noodles and boiling water, but also frying up some eggs etc.), even using it indoors (placed the whole setup in the bottom half of a large fancy cookie tin to deal with any potential spills or heat). Worked great. One bottles of yellow Heet lasts for many uses.

It's also very quiet. One of my camping buddies uses a Dragonfly white gas stove. Darned thing sounds like an mini jet afterburner. You can hear it in the woods from a hundred yards away when it's quiet at night. The alcohol stove on the other hand, makes less noise than the water boiling and bubbling in the pot.



Max

Great advice. I still have my Trangia alcohol stove but there are some inexpensive, very lightweight models from the ultra lightweight back packing community. Some make the stoves from 1/2 of a soda pop type can. They also incorporate an insulated "cozy" made out of reflectex that is used to cover the large mug sized cooking container after the alcohol is spent. This insulation allows the cooking to continue without additional heat. It works. Quinoa cooks perfectly with a small amount of alcohol, then left to sit inside the insulation hood (I made one instead of buying). Brown rice had to be cycled a couple times to cook with this method and might be too fussy for most. But as far as ramen and simple boiling it is very effective in spite of alcohol's lesser energy density compared to gasoline or propane. I buy alcohol in the paint section of decent hardware stores. It is not cheap but I like the less hazardous nature of alcohol cooking. I even use cheap rubbing alcohol to start the wood stove in winter. Just watch out that you don't use too much. If a lot is vaporized when first dispensed and you apply a match... I've never been hurt, you'd be surprised how controllable the flame moves if you use a small amount.
 

SemiMan

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I guess I should consider myself lucky where I live. Short of someone poisoning Lake Ontario, I am a short enough walk to all the clean enough water I would ever need.

Many threads back, I saw a concern with using a white gas stove indoors. If you were going to use it for heat, yes I would be concerned, but for the 20 minutes it will take to warm a meal, as long as you are in a reasonable sized room with some level of ventilation (and never unattended), you "should" be okay. As with anything like this (and that would include propane indoors), CAUTION!!

Now that said, when I lived in the country and we would get outages, and the wood stove was used, the one thing that I always ran on battery backup was the CO detectors, just in case as the fire would be going all night. I liked the piece of mind. I have used the Coleman stove in the garage with the door open a bit for good airflow.

My favorite canned survival food is Chick Pea soup. Very high in protein, very high in fiber, good overall nutrition value, and personally I like the taste. We have a brand in Canada called Habitant that is popular and you can get a version that has ham pieces. Best warmed up, but pretty tolerable even cold if you were in a pitch. Some of the powdered smoothie additives and powdered smoothie mixes have a pretty good nutrition mix as well and a heck of a lot cheaper than survival food .... well some of them at least.


There was a mini wood stove on Kickstarter a while back that had a thermoelectric generator that was really good. Though small wood stoves for cooking, at least outdoors are really interesting survival tools. You can always find wood. Definitely need to use outdoors.


Semiman
 

Sub_Umbra

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My real concern with white gas indoors was handling the fuel and the possibility of a fire at a time when the fire department was stressed out...or non-existent. Now I'm in a much better situation. I can cook off grid five different ways (soon to be six :D ) and I don't have to make a decision about whether I feel up to handling the white gas or burning it indoors. I also cook outside, by one method or another, nearly every day of the year.

CO detectors are a great investment for preppers and the price of one has fallen a great deal in since I bought mine ~eight years ago.
 
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Norman

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CO detectors are a great investment for preppers and the price of one has fallen a great deal in since I bought mine ~eight years ago.

Time for a new one. Typically, CO detectors are good for 5-7 years (apparently the sensor wears out). Somewhere in the manual or on the casing it will tell you when to replace it.
 
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Sub_Umbra

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Mine's been sealed up in an airtight bag w/o batteries. There is nothing that produces CO at my place unless we're off grid...unless, like li-ons, they just die whether used or not...
 

Norman

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now that's an interesting question. My "new" CO detector claims to have a timer on it, but I assume it only tracks power-on hours. I've been doing a bit of searching, but I haven't been able to find if it's simply time since manufacture or power-on hours that controls sensor-life.

I did see some sites that recommended using a test-kit to check the sensor performance monthly, but I don't recall ever seeing a CO test kit.
 

bluemax_1

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Great advice. I still have my Trangia alcohol stove but there are some inexpensive, very lightweight models from the ultra lightweight back packing community. Some make the stoves from 1/2 of a soda pop type can. They also incorporate an insulated "cozy" made out of reflectex that is used to cover the large mug sized cooking container after the alcohol is spent. This insulation allows the cooking to continue without additional heat. It works. Quinoa cooks perfectly with a small amount of alcohol, then left to sit inside the insulation hood (I made one instead of buying). Brown rice had to be cycled a couple times to cook with this method and might be too fussy for most. But as far as ramen and simple boiling it is very effective in spite of alcohol's lesser energy density compared to gasoline or propane. I buy alcohol in the paint section of decent hardware stores. It is not cheap but I like the less hazardous nature of alcohol cooking. I even use cheap rubbing alcohol to start the wood stove in winter. Just watch out that you don't use too much. If a lot is vaporized when first dispensed and you apply a match... I've never been hurt, you'd be surprised how controllable the flame moves if you use a small amount.

I've made several of those soda can alcohol stoves (the double walled, no penny style) and they work surprisingly well. I tried making them so I would be able to when/if I ever needed to (so many people never practice certain skills they know in theory, but find out too late may not be as easy as they see on TV/YouTube, like building/starting a fire). These stoves are super light and work well enough that I have one in my B.O.B. and know that I can make another one in a few minutes with 1 aluminum soda pop can and my Swiss Army Knife.

For bugging in or where I'm not as worried about weight/bulk though, the Esbit cookset works really well. The heat exchangers on the pots increase the efficiency quite well and gets to a boil faster with less fuel. The large non stick pots are also convenient when cooking for more than one.


Max
 
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