If a major natural disaster strikes and you are cut off from the rest of the world, there is one thing you need to prioritize to survive: Water.
"The No. 1 thing always is water, water, water. You can survive a long time without food or other things," said Eric Holdeman, who has decades of experience in working on disaster preparation. "People start dying in three days if they don't have water to hydrate."
The standard guide is you should have one gallon of water per person per day. That covers drinking and cooking, not hygiene. If you have a family of five, and you're talking about the 14 days of survival, that's 70 gallons of water. Most people don't have anywhere to store that on a regular basis in case of emergency.
An earthquake may destroy the water system. And even if it doesn't, water could become contaminated if purification systems go offline.
If you're thinking of running to Costco to load up on water after the quake hits, good luck. Chances are everyone else is, too, and there will be nothing left when you get there.
One source of clean, potable water is from your water heater, which can hold up to 50 gallons of water depending on its size.
"That's an immediate source of clean, potable water," Holdeman said. "So making sure that your water heater is seismically braced so you protect that water source is critically important also."
Another source is the toilet tank. You don't want to drink out of the bowl like your dog, but the tank water is the same that comes out of your tap.
Assuming the water is still coming out of the faucet, you can also fill your bathtubs and sinks with water. Be sure to plug them securely as water can seep out the drain even when you have closed the stopper. And you shouldn't assume the water isn't contaminated in the aftermath of an earthquake. The water system may have been compromised.
You can buy water bottles with filters or even water filtration straws for $18-$35 online for your kit. But those filters will only clean a limited amount of water, depending on how dirty that water is, so buy some replacement filters. You can also get water filtration tablets.
There are more expensive, battery-powered water purification systems on the market that don't use a filter, which means they can purify endless amounts of water.
If your gas or electricity is working, you can always boil water.
For a short-term emergency kit, you can buy pouches of Coast Guard-approved water that are good for five years.
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