Hurricanes are a reality for those of us who live in the South and the sad reality is that they are only getting stronger. That means that from June to November, folks who live in the preferred paths of these massive storms have to stay prepared for the next time one of these monsters rolls through. That means knowing your evacuation zone, recognizing warnings and alerts, checking on your neighbors, making an emergency plan, and gathering supplies as you can.
What supplies do you need? Ready.gov, the disaster preparedness site run by the federal government, suggests "having enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, masks, pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk." Their list of basic disaster supplies includes photocopies of important documents and ID, food, flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, and enough water for your family, which they suggest is one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly suggests keeping at least a two-week supply of clean water, or more if you live in a hot climate or have a family member who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or ill.
While it can take considerable time and expense to gather the long list of necessities, one thing that most of us are lucky enough to have access to is clean water. That means it can be easy to stockpile enough for clean water for your family the next time a hurricane sweeps through, through that old Southern tradition of canning. Yep, the long hours many of us spent in the kitchen putting up jars of peaches, pickles, and jams, can be used to prepare for the next natural disaster by canning drinking water.
According to SimpleMost, canning drinking water is an easy alternative to store-bought water, which they point out has an expiration date. It's not that the water goes bad like sushi left in the sun, but that the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the water that can cause health problems.
Instead, gather your standard mason jars and lids, sterilize them in your dishwasher or with boiling water. Then, according to SimpleMost, the easiest way to can water is to start with plain old tap water. Bring it up to a boil in a stainless steel pot and let it boil and bubble for at least five minutes. Pour or ladle the hot water into hot, sterilized jars, filling to within an inch of the top. Then tightly screw on both pieces of the lid and turn the jars upside down on a clean dishtowel, leaving at least an inch of space between each jar. Allow to cool for 12 to 24 hours and then test your seals by pushing down on the center of the lid. If the lid pops or moves, you'll need to chuck it and start the process over again.
The CDC recommends labeling the jars as "drinking water" and the date on which it was canned. Store water in a place with a cool temperature (50–70°F) out of direct sunlight, and "away from areas where toxic substances, such as gasoline or pesticides, are kept." Now cross water off your hurricane preparedness kit.