Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What if it happened to you?

Emergency planning.  It really came home to me in 2012 and 2013.

I got religion in 2003, I think it was, when Hurricane Isabel hit, a once-in-70-years hurricane for the DC area.  My power was out for 3 days.  My freezer was stuffed so I didn't have to throw anything out.  I had pre-stocked food I didn't have to cook.  I had plenty of projects to deal with. 

But in 2012 we had a derecho while we were also having our hottest weather ever, and later in the summer a water main broke.  A water main also broke in 2013.

So the first thing is, do you have enough water to survive during water system repairs?  Do you have somewhere that you can store enough water for you or your family?

1.  You can go longer without food than without water.  If you don't have emergency water you're asking to die.  Harsh but true.  You need 1 gallon per day per person.  For us in the U.S. that's almost 4 liters.  You won't drink all of it; the 1 gallon per day rule is outdated.  But some of it you will need if you can cook and haven't stocked no-cook food.

2.  You can't use this water to flush the toilet.  You can use non-drinkable water to flush the toilet.  For that you need a bucket.  You need to put 1 gallon of water in the bucket and dump it down the bowl of the toilet in one go.  That will push the dirt out.  Only do this when there is solid material in the bowl.  You know what I mean.

3.  You will have to back off on personal hygiene.  If you work where there is a fitness club, and there's no membership fee for people who work there, and it's not on your water system, you have a built-in alternative.  Otherwise you may only be able to do the basics.  And don't use your drinking water for this, either.

4.  You will not be able to wash clothing.  You may have to find a friend or relative who is not on your water system and get them to let you use their washer.  If you keep up with the laundry and have a couple weeks' worth of underwear, you should be fine.  But you may have to back off of your normal habits to get through it.  You may have to cut your changes in half.

And of course you realize you can't wash your car, water your lawn, or fill your pool when there's a water emergency.  You will probably get reported by your neighbors and have to pay a fine.  The first fine for this in 2013 was $500.  It went up from there.

Remember, I live in D.C., the capital of the world, and this happened here.  Twice in two years.  You can't afford not to think about it.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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