Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere

September 5: Thursday

Overnight shift tonight. Unlike where I did residency, the overnights are single coverage from 2 am to 6 am. That means that I am the only physician present in the ED for four hours. If I’m at the teaching hospital, I will also have residents seeing patients and to bounce ideas off of. But, at the other two hospitals, I’ll be solo... There are other physicians around the hospital, but none in the ED. This is unusual by any means, some EDs only ever have 1 attending at a time. But somehow, being alone in an ED feels different than when there is a more ‘attendingier’ attending around.


The humidity is brutal today. It’s in the high 90s. A thunderstorm is about to roll through thankfully, hopefully clearing the humid weather and breaking the heat wave we’ve been in.


Just parked at work. I love that, when the winds are just right, I can smell the ocean from the parking lot at work.


September 7: Saturday

Today is an Adventure Day! Anytime we go somewhere new or try a new activity, we refer to it as going on an adventure. We’ll often plan Adventure Days for each other, and typically make the day a surprise for the other person. Today’s Adventure Day is a trip to beach we haven’t visited before. We’ve got plans for exploring the beach town, a boardwalk stroll, jumping waves, and sunset cocktails overlooking the Pacific.


September 8: Sunday

We’re continuing to work on the bar. The frame is complete and we bought a thick slab of butcher block to use as the bar top and for the drink ledge. Then it will be a nap, and back to the hospital for an overnight shift. 


September 9: Monday

I used to recover from night shifts so easily. Nowadays, I’m a complete lump of a couch potato when I’m post-nights, which drives me nuts because I usually have so much energy. When I called my mom and told her I was watching tv on the couch, her shocked reply was, “What? You never watch TV.” I guess it’s just getting older? Not much productivity on the home or work preparedness front today. At some point I need to start getting ready for the annual California American College of Emergency Preparedness conference. I’m presenting there on medical humanities (specifically, on keeping a journal) and need to prepare my handouts and lecture. But later. Right now, I rest...


September 10: Tuesday

The temperature dropped and it suddenly feels like fall. This is truly my favorite time of year. Halloween decorations are popping up everywhere, there’s pumpkin flavored everything, and the morning weather is turning cool and crisp.


September 11: Wednesday

Woke up in a weird/bad mood. It’s been 18 years since 9/11, yet some days the hurt is so strong it feels as if no time has passed at all. I think about that day as the trigger for my prepping behavior. As the catalyst for my career path. My personal and professional lives are direct results of that event. There’s the well-known Serenity Prayer, by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, in which most versions state:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

But I struggle with those sentiments. I set a career path that scales down the acceptance side of the equation, and ramps up the making changes part. I accept that terrorism and natural disasters and pandemics will occur, but I refuse to sit back passively. Accepting that I cannot personally make my home, my community, and my country safer does not work for me.

Perhaps that also means I’m low on the wisdom side of things, as I clearly am not accepting of things I cannot change. Perhaps this poem wasn’t the best example to use to explain how I see the world. Perhaps since I disagree so vehemently with it, it is actually the best example.

Recipe: Water

Bleach, 7- and 3-gallon storage containers, bathtub waterBOB, pressure shower, iodine tablets, SteriPen sidewinder, Lifestraw, two 3-gallon water bladders, and a Sawyer Mini

Water is the most important prep, yet also quite tricky. A person can only live 3 days without water, though the effects of dehydration set in within a day. It is heavy to carry yet difficult to procure. If store or collected improperly, contaminated water can harbor potentially deadly bacteria and other infectious organisms. Also, a broken or busted water bottle can flood your gear and ruin all your preps (not speaking from experience or anything… ).

Let’s break it down by on-the-road water and home water preps:

72-hour bags & Evacuation

The Red Cross recommends that each person have a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person, per day, for a minimum of 3 days. This includes pets, too. That would mean my husband and I would be carrying 12 gallons of water in our 72-hour bags! Not happening. Way too heavy and impractical. Even just filling our 3 gallon bladders makes for a super heavy pack. Instead, we fill our bladders with 2 gallons of water and add two separate water containers into our car. We also have additional ways to purify and sanitize water so that we can obtain clean along the way. This include both handheld and manual crank purification devices, as well as iodine tablets.

Water Storage on the road

  • 2 three-gallon bladders (in our 72-hour bags), each with about 2 gallons

  • 3 gallon water container

  • 7 gallon water container

  • Nemo Helio LX pressure shower w foot pump, 5.8 Gallons

    • This foot-pump pressure shower was really handy when we went on a week-long camping trip. Have “running” water at the campsite made refilling out water bottles and cleaning up after meals much easier. And it made it easier to hose off the muddy paws of our sweet Rottweilers before getting into the tent at night.

Water filtration & purification on the road

At some point, you’ll need to replenish your water stores. Admittedly, this is one of my weaker areas. I’ve no experience gathering water directly from tree or dew or the air. Keep in mind, water filtration systems will remove protozoa (single-cell organisms, many of which are parasitic) and many bacteria, while a water purifier will kill protozoa, bacteria, AND viruses.

Is purification enough? Depends. The purification process will not remove any particles that are present the water. Best practice is to have a combo water filter and purification system, or to first filter your water, and then purify it.

  • LifeStraw - filtration

    • This has to put directly into the water source you’re drinking from. A potentially life-saving device, however it can be difficult to lay down by a river bed (or wherever) to reach the water source. It also takes quite a but of energy to pull the water up through the all the filtering layers. If possible, try putting some water into a smaller container (like a water bottle) and using the life straw from that container.

  • Sawyer Mini Water Filter - filtration

    • This adorable mini-filter works much like the Lifestraw, however it comes with its own collapsible water bottle so you can take some water with you.

  • Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets - purification

    • Use 1 tablet per 2 cups of water. (Or 2 tablets per 1 quart of water)

    • Shaken, not stirred.

    • You must wait AT LEAST 30 minutes prior to using.

    • Some people recommend adding powdered lemonade mix (like Crystal Light) to the water to improve the taste. You should not add any mixes in until AFTER the 30+ minutes are up!! If you add the powdered mix in too early, the ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) in the mix will react with the iodine crystals, and they will precipitate out of the solution, instead of letting the iodine work on the harmful organisms.

  • SteriPen sidewinder water purifier

    • Always on the lookout for a combo-filtration, purification, and storage system, I came across the SteriPen sidewinder. Scoop some water into the water bottle, then use the hand-crank UV SteriPen to purify the water for drinking. The water bottle detaches from the purifying system and has it’s own top with built-in filter. The hand crank is a little cumbersome, but there are no batteries required and this is an all-in-one system.

Water storage at home

  • WaterBOB Bathtub Emergency Water Storage Container

    • This is a 100-gallon storage unit that fills the bathtub and keeps a fresh supply of water handy. Fortunately, we’ve never had to try it. Unfortunately, that means I have no idea how well or easily it actually works.

Other options

  • Homemade water filters

    • I’ve never tried to make one! It’s on my to-do list.

  • Swimming pool or hot tub

    • Our goal is to one day have a swimming pool or hot tub. Mainly, just because we lives in California and we want a swimming pool. But, having an extra several thousand gallons of water on hand would be a great addition to any prepper home.

  • Rainwater collection

    • We don’t have any rainwater collection barrels, though I see why the idea is tempting. In some states it is illegal to collect rainwater so make sure to look into your state and local laws about this. Also, rainwater may be contaminated by local pollution and may need filtration and purification prior to drinking.

Any other thoughts on water collection, filtration, purification, or storage?

72-hours of food

72-hours of food

You have 10 minutes to evacuate...

You have 10 minutes to evacuate...