On a recent Friday night, instead of doing the dinner dishes right away, something on the television caught my eye and I sat down to watch it with my husband. Before long, it was time to go to bed, and when I walked into the kitchen to put my glass in the dishwasher, I realized that a sink full of dirty dishes was still waiting for me. What made that even worse was that when I turned the faucet on to start washing them, nothing came out!
We live on property with a well, so we knew that we weren’t “out of water.” With flashlight in hand, my husband went to check on it, and discovered that the pump wasn’t working. There wasn’t anything he could do, so we decided to go sleep in our RV. We’d just returned from a trip and the fresh water tank was full, so we knew that at least we could use the bathroom and shower until we got the pump fixed.
Next morning, we called the man who works on our well. He came out with everything he needed to repair it, but the damage was beyond repair. We needed a new pump and he would have to pick one up and come back the next day to install it.
That meant going another 24 hours without water. Water’s one of those things you just take for granted until you have to do without. You just turn the faucet and water comes out, right?
Fortunately, we had bottled water stored for drinking, and some quick hand washing, but not enough for bathing. If it hadn’t been for the RV, we would have had to go to our daughter’s house for at least our daily showers.
We did, however, discover a couple of other resources for water:
1. Having a two-story home means that you have lots of water pipes and they’re full of water. You know this because generally, when you turn the faucet on, water immediately comes out. I took three empty food storage barrels to the ground level and turned on the outside faucet. I was able to capture enough water to fill all three of the buckets. We put one in the kitchen and dipped water out of it with a measuring cup to wash hands. We put another in the bathroom to fill the tank if necessary.
2. We have a water softener system with a tank under the kitchen sink that filters the water. This water comes out of a smaller spigot – similar to those that produce hot water on demand. This tank probably holds about 5 gallons of water, so I was able to use it for cooking. That came in handy for meal preparation and I didn’t have to use the bottled water.
3. The hot water tank is another source of extra water. We didn’t have to get into it, but at least it was there.
We survived thirty-six hours without water without too much inconvenience, but it’s making me think about what I could do to make it even easier if it ever happens again. For one thing, we have 55 gallon barrels in our shed that are meant to hold water. Because we have the well, we’ve never been too concerned about filling them up. I wouldn’t want to drink the water out of them, but we could have used it for bathing if we had more than a simple pump to remove the water. That’s definitely something I’m going to be checking on this week.
Sometimes it’s good to have a minor emergency just so you can figure out a way to become more prepared. It’s even better if someone else has the emergency and it helps make you more aware. Take some time to assess the water situation in your home and come up with a plan you can implement if you ever find yourself without water. Even if you have city water, you might have your line temporarily shut off in the event that a main line is cut or has a leak. It’s always better to come up with a plan before you need it because you can think more clearly, and generally have more options when you’re not in emergency mode.Joyce Moseley Pierce is an author, talk-show host and preparedness expert. You can find out more about her by visiting her site, Prepared In Every Way, or by listening to her weekly show, the All You Need to Know Show, broadcast each Tuesday at 1 pm Central.