The most necessary element of survival preparedness is not food. It is water. Additionally, it is likely the least prepared for, even though most people know that we cannot survive long without it. Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface. All living things consist mostly of water. Water is the most common substance on earth and is basic to life itself. The thing is… fresh water makes up less than 3% of the earth’s total water volume and most of the fresh water supply (80%) is in the form of glacial ice and is unavailable for our use. Most of the remaining fresh water supply is underground, only 5% of which is on the surface such as lakes, rivers and streams. The volume of fresh water withdrawn for human use is increasing while at the same time, the major nations are facing increasing problems with pollution of their water supplies. Water is a precious commodity and is second only to having air to breathe. It may sound crazy, but it’s true… you can only live a few days without any source of water. Water is required to digest food, lubricate the body’s organs, joints, and membranes, and to maintain the electrical balance of the body’s cells. In addition to its life sustaining properties, water is used to wash, cook food, and to clean. The first priority in survival preparedness should be to store an adequate reserve of water. It is the cheapest preparedness item there is although somewhat challenging to store enough of it. It weighs a lot (about 8 pounds per gallon) and takes up a fair amount of room. But these obstacles can be overcome. A typical person needs to drink about 2 quarts of water per day. Add to that requirement your very basic personal needs such as cooking, brushing teeth, washing face-hands-etc… at a very minimum you should store at least 1 gallon per person per day. This is just the very basic amount and does not include other allowances for washing dishes or the body (hand washing – not bathing), or other sanitary needs, which would bump up the requirement to 2 gallons per day. A simple way to look at it or visualize how much water storage you need, is to consider that a typical 55-gallon size drum (most of us ‘know’ or can visualize the approximate size of this item) will accommodate one person for about a month. To store it that way (in a food-grade water storage drum) is efficient and takes up the least space, however it will weigh about 400 pounds filled, and you won’t be able to move it afterward (which may not be an issue for you). If procuring and dealing with 55-gallon water drums is too daunting, don’t give up… keep smaller-size water containers on hand instead. All sorts of sizes and shapes are available which are safe enough for water storage. Don’t get all caught up in the plastic BPA scare – after all… this is in the context of emergency survival – not potential long term effects of plastic leaching BPA. Simply be sure that the plastic containers that you choose are food grade. Periodically rotating and/or refilling your water storage will minimize concerns regarding plastic leaching. 6 months is a good rule regarding water rotation.