Water: After A Power Outage

power outage water suppliesA question:  What is the first thing you do when you have a power outage?  Our plan, like most, is to find some sort of light source – be it a flashlight or candle.  We then grab one of our dynamo-powered radios to try and figure out what is happening.

I’m guessing the next item on our checklist is a bit different from most:  We fill up our bathtub with cold water.

Even if the event that caused the power outage is a particularly bad one – an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) – there should still be sufficient water pressure in the system for us to fill our tub.  If the outage is because of some sort of “normal” problem with the power company, most municipal water companies have back-up generators to maintain water pressure.

We do this for a couple of reasons.

First, there’s the obvious reason of having sufficient potable water storage.  We fill the tub with cold water to preserve the water in our water heater as additional storage.  Filling the tub will immediately add up to 100 gallons of water to our current storage supply.  Be sure to have one of those small rubber disks to place over the top of your drain plug – you don’t want your saved water to slowly leak away.

Secondly, we do this for sanitation.  When, “the lights go out,”  no one can know for sure how long it will last.  Things can go pretty “ripe” very quickly in the heat.  Ensuring your food and body are kept clean can be a life saver.

The third reason we do this is a bit less obvious – cooling.  One of the most common times the power goes out is during the summer.  We’ve all got our air conditioning units running, and the power demands exceed the power available.  We get black-outs.

Suddenly, hot, sweaty people have no way to cool themselves.  This is especially troubling for home-bound Baby Boomers.  If worse comes to worse, you can use that bathtub full of water as a mini-pool to keep yourself cool.  If you have a Black Berkey Water Filter (or something of similar quality), that “used” water can still be easily purified into drinking water.

Do you remember the heat-wave that hit Europe in 2003?  In France alone, nearly 15,000 people died over a 7 day period due to the heat!  It was a “Perfect Storm” of excessive heat, caretakers, doctors and public safety personnel  on “holiday,” and a pampered populous unfamiliar with caring for itself.  Some sources have gone back and reviewed historical statistical records, and they place the number of extra deaths in all of Europe during that period at up to 70,000.


Maintaining our independence is our main priority.  Standing in line next to some tanker truck to get your allotment of potable water would be a nightmare.

Is it time to update your Power Outage checklist?  If you have elderly or disabled folks in your life – and they live on their own – the next time you speak with them, tell them about filling up the bathtub.  I started this with my own mother a couple of years ago.

What’s the downside?  If the power is only out for a couple of hours, you’ve potentially “wasted” some water.  You can take that water and put it in your garden, fill your bird bath or use it to flush your toilets.

As Europe found out not long ago, not doing so could cost you your life.

Want to know where I picked up this tip?  About a million years ago, I was watching the show, “Hill Street Blues“.  The character of Sgt. Belker was interviewing some criminal.  Belker’s mom called him on the phone.  She was complaining about the oppressive heat wave in NYC.

The criminal made a suggestion about filling up the tub with water to cool her off…

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