Getting the Most from Food and Water During a Disaster

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I recently read an article about what a woman learned from a weekend of surviving on stored water. Basically she learned to have her kids share their bath water and to store more so she could take longer showers and more baths.

In a disaster we all know water is going to be very precious. Water is also one of the hardest things to store. Now is the time to think about ways to get the most out of every drop. I want to stay clean but if it comes down to it and in a disaster we all know it will I’d rather have more for drinking and less for washing.

I have had many instances of not having access to running water. I live in a mobile home and my piping is PVC pipe. One day my brother accidentally ran over it with the lawnmower. Fortunately I am friends with a plumber and he would fix it for free. Unfortunately I had to wait 3 days. I’m 5 feet 6 inches tall and I can wash and rinse everything using only 2 liters of water. I wasn’t even being careful just too lazy to get an extra 2 two liter bottle.

Squeezing the last drop out of your water during a disaster

Here is what I did. Stand inside a plastic tote. Use a red solo cup etc. Pour water on head slowly and massage into hair, trying not to let any water run-off. If you have long hair, pile it loosely in a bun on top of your head and hold in place with one hand. Pour water slowly to allow your hair time to absorb it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

If washing a second time to get your hair clean you only need to rinse about half of the soap out. Be careful not to use too much soap because the more soap you use the more water it will take to rinse. Use cup to scoop water from tote to get body wet and wash. You can also just use a wet wash rag. Using this method you don’t have to get your skin wet first. Use water from tote to start rinse. Finish with cup to rinse with clean water. Using this method you can use 2 liters or less of water. Practice now and learn how little water you can get clean with.

You can brush your teeth with very little water. Put toothpaste on toothbrush. Take a small sip to wet mouth. I have also used mouthwash for this step. Spit out on toothbrush to wet paste. Brush like normal and rinse with a sip of two of water.

Grey water can be used by the next person and followed with clean for a rinse. It can be used to start to clean clothes and finally if possible to flush a toilet.


A local pond might become your new bathing spot.

When washing your hands or dishes be careful to catch water for reuse. Better yet plan on having at least some disposable dishes and baby wipes for cleaning your hands.

After a disaster everything is going to change. Most people are used to showering every day but in the past most people bathed once a week. They did this when there was no air conditioning and many had labor intensive jobs. These next suggestions may seem gross to you but they are worth considering. Even if you think you have plenty of water and a perfect bug out plan. It is highly likely that during a disaster at least once you will have to go a few days without a shower or clean clothes.

Bring out the funk!

Texsport Jumbo Camp Shower, 5 Gal – For those who want to freshen up without access to running water. Good insurance policy.

You might want to get an ideal of how it I going to feel and start getting used to it. Try going a few days without a shower to get used to it. I’m not suggesting no hygiene at all. Go ahead use deodorant. Use a baby wipe to clean up. Just forgo an actual shower. I have managed to get to 10 days before I was told I smelled. It helps that I work from home. For those of you that work with people outside of your family try skipping your Thursday night or Friday morning shower and waiting till Sunday night or Monday morning to shower. If you are used to wearing clean clothes every day try wearing the same outfit for several days.

For personal food storage I generally see the advice to store what you eat and to eat what you store. In theory that sounds good. However, during a disaster everything is going to become harder. I want life to be as easy as possible during this time so I store several things I don’t normally eat.

Some examples are canned tuna, canned ham and canned chicken. I have eaten these in the past and tried all of the brands I store. I don’t eat them regularly because it is cost prohibitive to do so. I store them because in a disaster it is likely to be the only meat available to me and my family

I store instant potatoes even though I don’t like them. I’ll eat them if I have to and I don’t expect to have access to regular potatoes. I have instant gravy to make cooking and eating faster and easier. I have canned beans because it takes so much water to cook beans. Precooked rice pouches will reduce cook time and water usage. For as long as it lasts bagged cereal requires no cooking, no additional water to cook and no water to wash dishes. It also doesn’t weigh much. My local Walmart frequently has Malt o Meal 11 ounce bags for a dollar. Picky eaters should practice expanding the foods they eat.

I also have food I would only eat if I had to. I didn’t buy most of this food and what I did buy was on sale. My local HEB always has meal deals where you get free items if you purchase something. I get even the foods I don’t like and save them. These are the foods that will be out in my visible food storage. That way when people come to loot my house or steal from me they can see and steal those. Hopefully this will satisfy them and they won’t look or look as hard for my hidden food. Some things are best kept private but I will say I have put considerable thought into places and ways I can hide my preps. I am under no illusions that no one will come and take things from me. I actually expect to have things stolen.

My plan is to not cook anything for at least 30 days. I may heat up a can of soup or fix instant potatoes but that’s about it. I don’t want people smelling my food. This will also reduce water usage. Little to no water will be needed to cook. Little to no water will be needed to clean up after eating.

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