This excerpt comes from Jack Lawson straight out of Chapter 13 of his two volume masterpiece, “Civil Defense Manual”. You can grab a copy of his book here. Jack is a strong supporter of American Partisan, and even had NC Scout write the chapter on Radio Communications (Chapter 17 in Volume I). I bought my copy the day it become available and I highly recommend you do as well.
Storage of water
Successful storage of water for extended periods of time is more difficult than food storage. That’s because water must be periodically treated to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Water is heavy! One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. If you store 50 gallons of water you’ll have 400 pounds of weight. Put 300 gallons of water in a container or containers and you have 2400 pounds of weight… over one ton of water. This may be dangerous if you store water in 55 gallon containers in one small area or larger amounts in a small area.
There are gazillions of container systems for water storage and transportation on the internet and in stores that sell survival equipment.
You must make certain your floor will support the weight of water storage containers and not collapse!
If you are on a second floor or your storage place has wooden truss or joist supported floors, the containers must be spread out, preferably next to the exterior walls of your building, to prevent floor damage or collapse of your floor. This is especially true of older buildings. Consult an engineer about this.
In a pinch, use kitchen pots and pans and dishes… anything that holds water. Cover open containers. Use containers that didn’t contain chemicals. If you wouldn’t drink the contents of a container… don’t use the empty ones for water storage. And if you would drink the contents, be sure the container is thoroughly rinsed out.
Always keep some of your water in one-gallon containers and keep rice and beans in in 1-gallon mylar bags, placed in 5-gallon buckets. Pails helps keep bugs and mice out, they stack and carry easier. But break the pails open for packages that will fit in a backpack… in case you have to quickly move.
5-gallon buckets have a ton of great other uses after you take the food out. They can be used to collect rain water, carry water from a nearby lake or stream and be use with old bucket brigade firefighting method. Fill them with sand or dirt for added protection from gunfire. Passed on to me my ‘ahead of everyone his age with preparedness,’ Nephew of the 82nd Airborne.
Store your water inside where it won’t freeze and burst the containers. Water stored away from wildly fluctuating outside temperatures, stored in your house or in a Root Cellar at more consistent temperatures, will stay stabilized and potable for longer periods of time. Label all treated water containers and mark the date on the label with a black marker. Use a computer date like 20200201 which represents ‘year 2020, month 02 or February, day 01’ or February 01, 2020 or the date 02/Feb/20. Spell out the three-digit abbreviated month.
If you use 02/11/2020, is that by the American date system or the European date system? So that date could be either February 11, 2020 or November 02, 2020? Clearly label and use the same date system so others aren’t confused. Rotate dumping, treating, refilling and re-dating water containers to maintain a fresh as possible supply.
Save every plastic bottle and jar that has a screw on top. The heavier the plastic container, the better. Store at least one case of bottled water in the 16 ounce or 20-ounce heavy plastic bottles. Completely dry out the empty bottles and lightly the screw the caps back on. Put a little chlorine water in these bottles as ‘backwash’ (saliva) will cause bacteria and mold growth in the bottoms. Water bottles will allow you to measure of how much water each person is drinking daily.
Start rinsing out and saving 2-liter soda bottles. All containers must be rinsed and free of residue of what they contained. If you store water in 2-liter soda bottles… they must be the hard, clear plastic type and not the soft ‘milky’ looking plastic.
Milk type jugs are designed to biodegrade under most conditions in about six months, but will last for three or four months.
The problem with plastic milk jugs is that the milk permeates the plastic and will contaminate the water and cause higher than normal bacteria growth… so don’t use milk jugs unless you intend to use the water within 6 months and intend to boil the water before using it. At the first sign of trouble fill EVERYTHING with water.
Again… you must make certain your floor will support the weight of water storage containers and not collapse!
If you are on a second floor or your storage place has wooden truss or joist supported floors, the containers must be spread out, preferably next to the exterior walls of your building, to prevent floor damage or collapse of your floor. This is especially true of older buildings. Again, consult an engineer about this.
Do not consume this emergency water, except in emergency. Stored water is safer if you again treat it before use by chemically treating it, boiling it, distilling it or running it through a water filter again that will remove the bacteria and organisms plus some of the chlorine also.
How to get enough water to keep you alive almost anywhere with a Solar Survival Hole
There are many different improvised ways to collect, that to the naked eye, water that doesn’t exist. I’m just hoping you will remember the Solar Survival Hole as a method of obtaining enough water to keep your body hydrated in a worst-case situation.
Water is all around us, even in the most arid places on the face of this earth. In those places, it’s just not in as plentiful quantities or as easy to gather, but it’s there. From morning mists, clouds, rain, rivers, oceans, snow and ice… water is under constant movement and change of state in nature. Change from vapor… to liquid… to solid… to vapor, and movement from wet to dry are never ending cycles. The trick is, where there’s no visible water… to cause that movement and change of state, to water that enables you to keep dehydration from killing you.
Something as simple as the Solar Survival Hole is amazing in itself to me… and it can save a person’s life when enveloped in a survival situation. The following are two methods you can use with the Solar Survival Hole. They both depend on digging a hole. Generally, the bigger and deeper the hole, the more moisture will be available for your process… conversely, the more difficult it will be to cover it.
The evaporative method
One. For the first one you need plastic sheeting, glass or some material for a cover and a collection container. By this method, the Solar Survival Hole is essentially a ‘still’ and works by evaporation and condensation of moisture… unlike ‘distilling’ which boils, evaporates and then condenses the water or liquids. It functions best by sunshine, however, it will also work, not as well or as quickly, by temperature differential of the up and down day and night temperatures.
The principle for the first method of the Solar Survival Hole is… evaporation… caused by the heat of the sun. You need a piece of plastic sheeting to put over the hole, preferably clear… like your auto glass or plastic sheeting from your interior. If you break your windshield carefully, it will stay in one piece because auto windshield safety glass has a layer of plastic bonded in between the glass. Not so for side windows… those are designed to break into non-jagged pieces.
Moisture from the ground reacts with the heat from the sun to produce water vapor inside the hole which condenses on the plastic. The amount depends on moisture in the soil evaporating and condensing on a relatively airtight water resistant cover over the top of the hole. There, the condensed water runs towards the center of the cover, which is weighted down with a pebble or formed concave towards the bottom of the hole. When it gets to the lowest part of the cover it collects on the ‘tit’ or depression and drips down into the collection container placed directly underneath it in the bottom of the hole.
In the desert or when on ‘moonscape’ ground, choose the place to dig your hole. Find where bushes or trees grow or go to ravines and ‘dry’ river beds. Unless you’re on shifting sand dunes, there’s water by digging down in those places. I’ve seen a gusher of water come into a hole dug twenty-eight-foot-deep, in the middle of endless square miles of barren ground that wouldn’t grow the most noxious and prolific weed. But you don’t have to dig down that far for the Solar Survival Hole. Dig a hole two foot around, knee deep to mid-thigh deep. The depth is determined by the soil changing from bone dry to moist.
Weight the plastic or glass edges down with stones and cover the edge of it with soil, to seal it the air inside the hole. If you have a long enough drinking hose or tube that you can place one end into your container in the hole, and have the other end come out under the plastic placed over the hole, you don’t have disturb the condensation process to drink… just suck on the tube. Think… vehicle parts with non-toxic chemicals running through them.
The wicking method
Second. The second method works by ‘wicking.’ This won’t give you much water, but it may be enough to keep you from dying of dehydration. The object is to absorb the moisture at the bottom of the hole with smooth pebbles or a piece of torn cotton cloth. Place the pebbles or cloth in the bottom of the hole and put a thin layer of sand or dirt over them. Then cover the hole to prevent air evaporation of the moisture from the hole. Cover with what? Use your imagination in conjunction with materials around you.
Branches laid across the hole, covered with layers of clothing, in turn covered with a very thin amount of fine soil to make it somewhat airtight, and then with a final cover of dark clothing will work. After twelve hours of sun, you can suck the pebbles and cloth to transfer enough water from them to the membranes in your mouth through to your body to prevent incapacitating dehydration.
With both methods, other items can add to this the amount of vapor produced for condensation. From seawater and urine in containers… to cut green foliage and moist shite placed in the bottom of the hole away from pebbles and cloth and around the collection container. Keep items placed in the bottom from contaminating your drinking water container and suck-able pebbles and cloth or dig shallow ‘shelves’ for these additional items slightly off the bottom on into the sides of the hole.
If you’re not severely dehydrated and can afford the time to let your water sit overnight, do so. It will taste better. It will also taste better if you pour it from one container to another, being careful not to spill any of this precious fluid, because it takes so long to condense it. You can filter this water through cloth and suck the cloth dry afterwards.
I’m astounded that people die of thirst from dehydration where there is sufficient water … but they’re ignorant as to how to gather it and how to preserve what they have in their bodies. Such as preserving body fluid levels by movement in the dark hours, when it’s cooler and staying in shade during the heat of the day, when traversing barren, dry and hot landscapes.
These people struggle in the dry and hot desert, in their semi-comatose state of mind, to put one foot in front of the other in taking their last steps towards civilization and help… but what becomes more than often that they are walking to the place that they will die. They may as well be blind as they walk towards help… but what is in reality a walk to their death, because they’re ignorant… not stupid, just ignorant. Look the word up… ignorant defined… ‘Lack of knowledge and uninformed.’
They may be the best and brightest computer programmer or engineer… but they’ve just killed themselves because they’ve kept their pasty skinned and sallow complected body hidden in the dim light of a room pushing buttons with their bulgy finger tips… and didn’t bother to learn even basic skills to keep themselves alive. One of my Sons manages a bunch of these computer people and has encouraged many of them to do just that… get away from computers and into the wilds on their leisure time… learn how to survive.
What they need to do, is put some sun screen and a wide brimmed hat on, buy a book on surviving the wilds and get out into the bush, desert or forest with just a good knife and find out how to survive. It’s exciting and fun!