In a crisis clean drinking water will be the most valuable commodity. Without it, you're not going to be able to stay alive for more than three days. That's it. Sadly, in many homes people usually have less than 48 hours worth stored. Relying on your local government to keep the water flowing from your taps, or being able to pick it up bottled from the store are two recipes for disaster. Should an earthquake take out the grid, or any other disaster that disrupts your daily life, things are going to get real very quick. The first item sold out in a crisis is typically bottled water, and what's left will skyrocket in price. I was in Thailand during the floods in 2011, and the price of a bottle of water in the local supermarkets went from $0.30 on Monday to over $10 by the end of the week. Making sure your family has a generous supply of water before a crisis hits is critical. First, identify how much water you're going to need. Most guides work on a rough ‘two gallons, per person, per day.’ Personally, I'd recommend rationing your water for a day and you'll quickly see how fast two gallons goes, even with sponge baths and trying to keep your use low it's very much ‘water rations.’ So, how do you protect this valuable commodity once the SHTF and it's no longer as easy as turning on the tap to access safe and clean water?
Here's a few places you can hide your supply. Cistern. If you're wanting to store a massive amount of water your best option is installing an underground water cistern. The only trouble with these is the amount of effort it takes to install, and they're hard to miss with the cranes and machinery needed to get them in place. Best done when your neighbors are away on holiday. Water tanks. Some of these are not the most discrete option, but installing a rain catchment system in your backyard is a smart idea as it ensures you've got a renewable source on your property every time it rains. I installed my tanks in the back shed to make it less obvious to a casual glance, just be sure you've got adequate drainage should they overflow! There's also more secretive options, such as the Rainwater Hogs which are designed to fit underneath porches and decks, and can even be buried underground. The space you've got to work with will determine what tank solution is most suitable for your home. Basement. I can't fit much more than a 44 gallon drum down the stairs and into my basement, but I've got ten now that are filled and ready to go which is another 440 gallons of water stored in my property, that's hidden away from any nosy neighbors. Hot water systems. These provide a great storage option, and can be done very discretely. You won't get much more than a second glance from your neighbors as you install a nice new tank. The trick is to keep the original, and convert it to a tank for purely storing drinking water. Swimming pool. You've got about 20,000 gallons in an average pool and they're more common to find in a backyard than a giant underground cistern, but the chemicals added to keep your pool clean make it very unsafe to drink the water more than a few times. The only way to remove these completely is to distill the water, which requires preparation before a crisis hits to ensure you can make use of the water you've stored. Outdoor ponds. Decorative ponds in your backyard are a nice feature before a crisis, and they won't draw attention like a row of industrial water tanks on your property. Plus, you can build it yourself over a couple of weekends, which makes for a fun project. I'd just recommend bringing the water stored inside after a disaster as it will be an easy target for any thirsty looters, and be sure to filter it before you drink it. Waterbed. The bladder on a waterbed holds up to about 400 gallons, just be careful as some of these mattresses leech toxic chemicals into the water that can't be removed by filtration. You'll need to distill it to be safe, or run it through a high quality filter designed for this purpose. Keep the water clean by changing it yearly, adding two ounces of bleach for every 120 gallons to ensure it stays potable. Around your home. Under the bed, behind your headboard, or basically anywhere in your house that is away from direct sunlight. Just don't store the water in plastic containers like old milk jugs. Buy industrial strength water storage containers, and you'll never get a nasty surprise like water dripping through the floor and into your living room. A friend had this happen, as the plastic milk bottles he used to keep part of his supply under his bed deteriorated over time and leaked everywhere. My advice is to buy the right products to do the job right. Reclaim your stairs. Underneath the stairs in most houses is a space that isn't always utilized for storage, but can be converted with shelves to store water and other survival gear. It's fantastic as you can also put your furniture in front of the small opening and any looters may overlook this hiding spot if your home does get raided. Bathtub. Buy a bladder that fits your bathtub and at the first sign of an emergency fill it to capacity. It's a reactionary measure, but one that I've built into my families survival plan as it stores a significant amount of water that requires little (if any) treatment before you can drink it. We can't take water for granted just because it's there every time we turn the tap, in a crisis that takes down the grid it's usually one of the first utilities to go. Without your own supply you're risking the health and well-being of your family, so follow these steps and find some great places around your home to start building your own water stores.