Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Since the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I've had disaster preparedness on the mind, especially since the experts say that the West Coast is overdue for a big earthquake and tsunami. My friend Bill Sullivan who studies these things says there's evidence, from geology and Indian legends and even old records of tsunamis in Japan, that this happens in Oregon about every 300 years. He assures me that an old house like ours would flex and sway like an orange crate on a waterbed and would probably survive just fine, but a big earthquake would take out all the bridges and overpasses in the area.

So every now and then I think about preparing for such a disaster, and whenever the light turns red and I have to stop under the Belt Line overpass on River Road, I think, "I hope it doesn't hit right now."

Sunday we had a windstorm that took out the electricity for a while. We had plenty of food on hand, but I realized the weakest link in our survival ability is water. Just in those few hours we were running short of drinking water, and certainly didn't have enough to flush toilets.

So, ok, I should put some water away for emergencies. But how, and in what? And how do you make sure drinking water stays clean and good? I've cleaned out milk jugs in the past and filled them with water for camping trips and discovered that no matter how thoroughly you wash the jugs, the water always tastes terrible in a day or two.

I happened to read one idea: fill the empty areas in your freezer with jugs of water. Great idea, at least until we butcher a cow or pig again. And then I had an idea all on my own: why couldn't I can water? I have lots of two-quart jars--why not fill them with water and cook them in a canner like I would grape juice?

I just might try that.

And now I need to add a disclaimer, that no matter how many preparations you make, your safety or lack of it is still in the Lord's hands. Years ago, when we lived in Canada, I was always a bit obsessive about taking emergency supplies along in case we were stranded a hundred miles from anywhere and it was thirty below. Blankets, a tin can to melt snow in and candles to do the melting, matches of course, extra food. And then one night it was about 15 below and we hit a moose miles from anywhere, and my careful emergency kit went up in flames with everything else but God miraculously sent a rescuer in a big warm pickup truck.

But I still believe that part of going to the ant, thou sluggard, and considering her ways is to make just-in-case preparations.

[Later...just thought of this: if there's an 8.9 earthquake, will all those jars of water tumble all over each other and break?]

Quote of the Day:
"It operates fine except you can't call or text anyone on it."
--Ben, about his cell phone


  1. Dorcus, I think many of us are having these same thoughts and the same quandry....we need lots of water but aren't sure how to save it!

  2. Or the old Arabian proverb that I've claimed: "Trust in God, but tie your camel."

    Let us know how the water canning goes!

  3. It's not a lot, but I try to keep all Thermos-type jugs filled with water--you know, the kind you take on picnics and camping and on the combine. The water's not always fresh, and I try to remember to put fresh in occasionally--but when desperate enough, "fresh" isn't so important, I guess.

  4. You can add either a teaspoon of bleach or Tablespoon of bleach (google it!) to a gallon of water and it stays good a long time. I did this a number of years ago and used some probably about 5 years later when we had a power outage and it tasted fine. But it's been so long ago I can't remember the exact amount.

  5. Plastics leach some of their chemical content into water or food over time, so I think the idea of using glass is a good one. In an earthquake, of course, glass would be more susceptible to damage. Does chlorine evaporate when exposed to air? If so, I think the idea of adding bleach has merit.

    The terrible ice storm we had several years ago made us realize the benefits of a heat source not dependent on electricity to generate or circulate heat. Just in time, we bought a fireplace-like gas heater that we could connect directly to the gas line that goes to our furnace. A wood stove is another good option for some people.

    BTW, hope to see you in OK.

    Miriam Iwashige

  6. Similar to the big red plastic gas containers with funnels, some stores sell blue ones for water.

    Also, you can buy something that attaches to your drain pipes...I can't remember how many gallons of water come off the average rooftop after a typical rain shower, but it's a LOT. There are barrels you attach that have little spiggots to open just like a faucet when you want water out of the barrels.

  7. Even before I got to the part where you said you might try canning water, I had decided to share with you what I do regularly. Whenever I'm canning food, if there aren't enough jars of food to fill the kettle, I finish out the load with jars of water, and can them along with the food. I can't tell you how many times I've used these during a power outage or on a camping trip. :) -PC in VA

  8. Buy some of the 5 gallon clear plastic jugs of water that the office coolers use. They're not terribly expensive, they can be stored for quite a while, and you can rotate them out every once in a while.

    We get monthly deliveries at the office. We pay a deposit on the jugs and the water people pick up our used ones each month when they bring us new ones.

    My home is on a well, and we've had our drinking water delivered for years. I usually have 15 or 20 gallons sitting in the closet at any particular time. If it looked like the weather was going to be particularly bad, I'd double r triple that. (We were once without power for 10 days, after an ice storm.)

  9. Thanks for all the tips--very helpful. And Miriam, I'm looking forward to seeing you in OK!

  10. My great-grandma canned water once upon a time. 15 or 20 years later when we cleaned out the basement, we opened them. they had sulur-y, iron rich water so the vintage stuff was not really appealing. All in all, it is perfectly doable.
    I have recently been quite thankful for that small range of rocks between here and the coast. At least I know we won't wash away... Fickle, but true.

    Jessica D

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  12. "Go to the ant...consider her ways" you mentioned. How very blessed you are. They come to you!

  13. Louise, you are very clever!