After witnessing the damage caused by Irma, Harvey, and the decades of other hurricanes that have pummeled our coast, it’s time we all take a few minutes and assess how prepared we are for a future storm. When the hurricane hits, preparedness is everything — and if you’re caught without the right food, water, or other supplies, you’re going to be in for some very real challenges during the aftermath.
The basics are simple: You need water, so you stock up. You need food, so you load up on cans. Your car could use some gas, so you fill it up to the brim before the gas stations run on empty.
Preparation can be tedious, costly, and sometimes impossible. In Florida before Irma, water was flying off of shelves in less than a minute’s time. There’s one thing you can do, though, that’s 100 percent free of charge.
Fill up your bathtub. Like, all the way.
It sounds weird, and you’re probably thinking, What am I going to do with all that dirty water?
I’m from South Florida, and I’ve lived through upwards of 15 major hurricanes, months of power outages, and torrents of falling trees; I can tell you that you’re going to use that water for so many things.
Bottled drinking water is more valuable than gold after a storm. You probably won’t have managed to get your hands on a ton of it and your family sips through it faster than you could imagine. Seriously — at the recommended 125 ounces per person per day, that’s like 28 gallons of water a week. Did you really stock up upwards of thirty gallons?
But you’re going to need to do more with water than just drink it. That’s where your filled-to-the-brim bathtub saves the day.
For one, you want to boil water and cook food. Grains, pasta, ramen noodles, soup, and many other simple dishes can be made on a grill or other open flame with a big pot of bathwater. Boiling it removes all the bacteria. It doesn’t remove the chemicals, so refrain from drinking the bath water until it’s your last resort — but for cooking and pouring out afterwards, the reservoir bath water is a bit of a safer bet. Not ideal, obviously, but better than wasting half a gallon of your precious bottled stuff on a pot of rice.
Secondly, you want to bathe. After a week without running water or electricity, you’re going to be smelling pretty gross and craving a nice rinse to your face like nothing else. You can fill up some buckets and at least get a quick wash.
And thirdly, you want to flush your toilet. Most people think that the toilet is an electrical mechanism — it’s not. It’s a matter of plumbing, harnessing water pressure and running water to cause the toilet to flush. The running water is the only part of this that’s out of the equation. Keep a huge bucket right by the tub. After you’ve used your toilet, pour a hefty bucketful down your toilet bowl and watch as (incredibly) it flushes. This allowed us to use our toilets throughout the outage, and saved my family from some really disgusting experiences. All because of a big tub of dirty water.
You’re also going to want to have a plan for non-perishable foods. Here are some tips for eating “off the grid”— when the apocalypse hits or, you know, when the whole town’s power goes out.