Have you heard the Rule of three? This basic principle states that you can survive for:

The shelter rule relates to being in extreme environments, so there certainly are situations where you can survive without shelter for much longer. The other three rules, though, are pretty much universal.

Let’s talk water

Those living in the Willamette Valley are expected to go nearly 400 days without running water. Imagine a year without regular showers, washing hands in our sinks, pouring cups of water from the faucet, running the dishwasher and washing machine, and using a hose for gardening. Agencies are expected to have water stations ready for the public 14 days after the earthquake. Until then, you’ll be on your own! Let me say that one more time. You’ll be on your own. For more information about the image to the right, visit the Oregon Resilience Plan—Executive Summary | February 2013, page 6.

The long wait for assistance is why current recommendations from the American Red Cross Cascades Region, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, and the Washington Emergency Management Division ask that each home store 14 gallons of water per person. Don’t forget to plan on storing water for pets! To name a few others, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the City of Salem, and Oregon’s Lane County also have fabulous 2-weeks-ready planning guides and challenges to help get you ready.

The Plan

Below is an Excel table with some prices for water options at 5 stores in South Salem (May 2023). While these were some of the cheapest options, and there are many others available, this provides a rough estimate for how much it might cost for you to get 2-weeks-ready.

Below we can see (based on the pricing from above) the total cost and quantity needed per household (up to a family of five) to be 2-weeks-ready. The jugs of water cost less, but they aren’t stackable, and you’ll need to buy more than the cases of bottled water. Also, keep in mind that, at least in Oregon, the bottle fee that is included in the price, is refundable.

Did you know, a quick Google search shows the average Starbucks drink = $2.75. The average person visits Starbucks 6 times/month. $2.75 X 6 visits = $16.5/month. Pricing some water from above, a person could have enough water for the full 14 days for $17.08.

Can you give up one month of Starbucks coffee trips per person in your family? (Make coffee at home! I’m not about to ask you to give it up altogether!) If your favorite drinks are more expensive than that $2.75 average, you might only have to give up 4 days of Starbucks per person! It’s worth it!! Think about it. For under $20.00 per person in your home, you could be 2 weeks water-ready! How cool is that??

Here is a presentation by the City of Salem Emergency Manager, Greg Walsh. He discusses ways to store emergency water, and I highly recommend taking 30 minutes to watch this! Note that he suggests 1.5 gallons per person per day to be on the safe side.

2 weeks is a great start, but if you can store water for 3 weeks or longer, that’s awesome!! Remember, once you run out, you’ll need to travel (roads may be impassable by car) to water distribution locations (which may be hard to find initially with communication systems down). You’ll need to stand in line for water and carry it back. Neighbors and loved ones may need water early on too.

The Oregon State University Extension Office has a Cascadia Earthquake Preparedness section. Within it, there is a PDF on water that I highly recommend reading: Survival Basics: WATER, Tips for Securing a Safe, Drinkable Supply. You can also register to take their FREE, online, self-paced course, “Preparing for the CSZ“.

For what it’s worth, I store my water in 16oz bottles. They eliminate my need to use a cup for each member of my household, which helps cut the need for extra water to wash the cups when my kids inevitably drop them or grab them with dirty hands. If my arm, wrist, or hand is injured in the earthquake, water bottles are easier to open than a large 5-gallon jug. Bottled water slides under beds, stacks in closets, and fits neatly on shelves making it easier to store. It isn’t great for the environment, though, and may not be the right choice for you for other reasons. Remember, preparedness is a personal journey that ultimately needs to be tailored to you!!

Make sure you have at least 1 clean gallon water jug for filling water at the distribution centers when they are up and running. You may need to walk a fair distance to the distribution center closest to you, so having a plan for how to carry the water home may also be helpful (stroller, cart, etc.).

Today, pick a way to store water and figure out how much you need for your household (I repeat: don’t forget to add water for your pets!). Tomorrow, start storing it! Fill that container or buy that first case. If you have other suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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