In troublesome times, consider emergency rainwater collection.
One of a human’s most pressing needs, second only to the need for air to breathe, is water. Depending upon the climate and the particular person’s needs, a lack of water will prove fatal within a matter of days, or perhaps even hours. In modern times, this need is satisfied almost everywhere by safe water that flows freely from a tap. But if that source of water is interrupted for only a short time, extreme hardship can result.
A certain amount of water can be stored to deal with emergencies, and this is an extremely important preparation. But if the water is cut off for the long term, or if you have unprepared friends and neighbors that you want to help during an emergency, then it is important to be able to locate an alternative source of fresh water. If the weather calls for rain, this can be a relatively simple matter. Even your unprepared neighbors can be talked through the process with ease.
It is true that very few people rely on rainwater for their household water needs. This is because, given sufficient time, it’s usually more convenient and reliable to dig a well. But the process of digging a well is expensive and time consuming, and in many cases relies on modern industrial infrastructure.
Even with a very modest rainfall, it is possible to collect needed amounts of water with only very basic skills and no special equipment other than what people normally have in their homes. Even if you have sufficient water for your own personal needs, at the very least, giving some thought to capturing rainwater will allow you to provide some real help to your unprepared neighbors at no cost to you. Therefore, it is a worthwhile skill to know, even if you don’t plan to use it yourself. And even if you are well prepared, it never hurts to have a backup plan for something as basic as water.
Emergency Rainwater Collection From Your Roof Gutters
If you live in a typical suburban house equipped with gutters and downspouts, then the easiest way to gather water is to use the infrastructure that’s already in place. It’s a simple matter to place a large container near the downspouts of the house. Within minutes after a rain begins, those containers will probably be full, and the main problem will be finding more empty containers.
While this water is certainly better than nothing, you must exercise some caution. This water, while it might look clean, probably isn’t suitable for drinking. This is because every drop of this water first landed on the roof, and is probably contaminated at least to some extent. This will include at least some contamination with whatever chemicals are part of your roof’s shingles.
In addition, it will include contamination from whatever dust and debris that has settled there since the last rainstorm. This can include industrial pollutants, bird droppings, or in the case of a nuclear emergency, even radioactive fallout particles.
Clean Emergency Rainwater Collection
If this is the only source of water available, then it is certainly better than nothing. Given the choice between dying of thirst or consuming a few pollutants, it would be an easy decision. And there are ways to minimize the risk. First of all, if there is sufficient water available, the first water to come down the downspouts should be used for purposes other than drinking or cooking.
The initial rain will clean the roof to a certain extent, and the water that comes down later will be somewhat cleaner. And if a water filtration system is available, it should be used before drinking this water. And if it is available, chlorine or other water purification chemicals should be used. The chlorine, of course, will not remove any chemical pollutants. But at least it can kill any germs that found their way into this water.
Even if you don’t use water from your roof for drinking, the level of contamination is likely to be so small that this water can be used for many other purposes, such as cleaning or bathing. Since it’s so easy to catch, it’s a good idea to do so. At the very least, you’ll be setting a good example for your neighbors. If they follow your lead, then you can be reasonably certain that they won’t be knocking on your door asking you to share your own precious supply of water.
Emergency Rainwater Collection With Plastic Sheeting
Catching water from the roof is the easiest way to get water, but it’s an idea that can be improved upon, especially if you need to use the water for drinking. Any type of large clean sheeting can be used to catch rainwater. If you are planning for this possibility, then investing in some large plastic sheeting is a very prudent investment. But any household will have some supplies that will do an adequate job.
You will be able to assist your unprepared neighbors by pointing out these supplies. And if they see you using them yourself, they will get the idea, which will allow them to do something useful for themselves rather than coming to you for help.
Using and Caring For The Emergency Rainwater Collection Sheet
The most common object that can be used, which can be found in any home, is a clean bed sheet, or even a blanket. A porous piece of fabric, of course, will not be 100% efficient. Some of the water will soak into the sheet and will not be recoverable. But rain in most areas is abundant enough that there’s absolutely no need to strive for 100% efficiency.
Catching even a small amount of water could mean the difference between life and death. And even with a porous sheet, it will be possible to catch large amounts of rainwater. If you are the one who can show this vital skill, you will be able to save many lives. At the very least, you’ll be able to keep unprepared individuals busy with an important task.
The sheet that is being used to collect rainwater should be kept as clean as possible. Generally, that means that it should only be taken out when it looks like rain is coming. If it sits outside for days on end, then it will gather dirt and other contaminants just like the roof. But when rain is imminent, it can be set up quickly.
All you need to do is set it up in a manner so that the rain will hit it, and drain off into a clean container. Particularly if the sheet is porous, it is important to keep it up off the ground, to keep ground contamination from getting into the water. The easiest way to do this is to tie a rope to each corner, and then secure those ropes to any convenient object, such as a tree or even to the house. (If ropes are not available, many substitutes can be used, such as wire, or even strips of cloth.
The sheet should slope down. Therefore, it might be easiest to tie two corners to a fixed object, with the corners on the other side tied to stakes in the ground. Pull the sheet tight, and the rain will roll off of it toward the ground. Tie another rope to the center of the bottom end, and stake it to the ground so that the center is slightly lower. The result will be a trough, and most of the water will run off one point. Put any clean container under this trough, and it will quickly fill with water. It will be most efficient to use a large pan to collect this water. As that container fills, the water can be poured into other containers for storage.
For a long-term emergency, rainwater probably should not be counted on as your sole source of water. But in many cases, it can make the difference between life and death. Therefore, it’s important to give some thought to being able to use this free source of water when the situation calls for it.