The 7 Day Challenge: DAY 2 (THURSDAY)

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Welcome to the 7 Day Challenge. For 7 days, we are testing our Emergency Preparedness and Food Storage Plans. Each day will bring a NEW mock emergency, or situation that will test at least one of the reasons “WHY” we strive to be prepared! REMEMBER: No going to a store, or spending any money for the entire 7 days! And please feel free to adapt the scenarios to fit your own family and situation.

Please note: Today is a NEW emergency, none of the limitations listed yesterday apply. Your country is experiencing a WAR and the water purification facility in your area has been bombed. All water services coming to your home have been halted indefinitely. (If you use well water, your well was destroyed too!) Today you will practice living without running water in your home and experience cooking, sanitation, hygiene, etc. with STORED water.
Goal: Learn what your water needs will truly be in an emergency

Today’s Tasks:

  • Cook all meals (and CLEAN UP) using only stored water
  • Take a shower or bath using stored water (Don’t cheat and skip this one!)
  • Use stored water for flushing toilets
  • Calculate your usage for the day and use that number to determine how much of a water supply you actually have
  • FILL any empty water containers you have been procrastinating on filling
  • Make a plan for how you will collect/purify additional water if/when you run out (use your daily report card to help)
  • SHARING TIME: Post a picture or a description of the task you found most difficult to do using stored water today on Facebook or in the blog comments.

Today’s Limitations:

  • For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants
  • Do NOT use running water at all. To help you not cheat, you can turn off your main water supply for the day

Advanced Tasks:

  • To conserve water, use a sanitation kit rather than flush stored water down the toilet.
  • Get ambitious and do a load of LAUNDRY with stored water.
  • Go to the nearest source of fresh water and fill up several water containers and purify it.


Make sure your fill out today’s Report Card to see how well you did, to keep track of areas you can improve, to remember things you need to do, and things you need to buy. Use the data to make a game plan to take you to the next level of preparedness, whatever that may be.

  • Louise Gainor

    I grew up without running water (we had to haul buckets 1/2 mile from the creek) so this was easy for me, but my family had fits – I’ve never heard such whining. My husband and son took showers, so they cheated. My daughters and I took sponge baths and soaped up our hair, then each rinsed off with a 2-qt pitcher of water. I washed clothes in the bathtub and hung them on hangers over the shower curtain bar. I washed dishes in my large bread bowls. My family had issues with the toilet bucket, but they managed when I showed them the enzyme packs that get rid of the smell. The men are apparently spoiled rotten, and we girls made the best of things. We used my entire storage of 30 gallons in one day, so we’ll have to increase the amount that I store, and I need to obtain a purifying system for water from the creek, other than boiling (it’s pretty polluted).

  • Dusty

    This was easy – our idiot county water company opened it’s new plant in May, and forgot to order chemicals till late June, so we all had raw, untreated water for 2-3 months. Currently the water is brown-orange, corrodes stainless steel, and washing in it causes rashes, itching and allergic reactions, makes you feel dirtier and grittier than before washing, and has destroyed dozens/hundreds of faucets, coffeemakers, and metal items like buckets, tea kettles… (that we know of). Our 2 in line whole house sediment and carbon filters are dark brownish orange & clogged in 8-12 days instead of the usual 4-5 months being lightly orange before changing. So we have been trying to not use our county water at all.

    We use our AquaRain filter for any water we cook or drink with, and to rinse after washing dishes. Washing is in the shower, using about 1/2 gal total for wash & rinse, and 1 to 1 1/2 qts for washing long hair. We use JASON soaps and they rinse quickly. We do a lot of Living History events, camping from 3 to 10 days per event. You learn a lot of water saving tricks camping.

    We had a dome spring break thru into our 4′ high crawl space after building the house. I took a boiled qt Bell jar full to have tested years ago. I was told I needed to bring water in *after* purifying it. I told him this was just scooped up from the crawl space, and he told me it was about the cleanest water he’s tested and completely safe to drink. That water goes thru the AquaRain before use, except for bathing. I can collect from the crawl, or the pipe leading to the bog/shallow pond we haven’t dug out for a fishing pond yet. Even during Exceptional Drought this July & Aug, it was giving us about 20-50 gal a day. Now we’re down to Severe Drought, we’re getting at least double that.

    We have a cistern, between 1000 & 2500 gal, we need to have checked & cleaned when we have the guy come out to check and test the well we have 30′ from the house and 15′ from the underground cistern. It’s cased, just needs a head & tested. It definitely had water when we tested when our drought was in Extreme intensity.

    We have 12 good 1 gal jugs (the harder clear plastic jugs don’t degrade in weeks like frosted jugs) we’ve been getting refilled, and the two 30 gal barrels we have in the house disguised as end tables, but we’ve also been using the spring water a lot, it tastes better.

    So this was just a case of not using any water already in the house.

  • NeomaDenise

    We aerate the stored water before use. I have an old hand beater that I use to mix some air into the water so it doesn’t taste “flat”. Bathing I had to do as I work – I did skip washing my hair and just put it up in a french twist. To bath with minimal water – I put several heavy duty paper towels in a shallow pan and added just enough warmed water to saturate them – then I added some “No Rinse” soap (can buy at medical supply stores and some pharmacies). One paper towel per major body area – so one for arms, trunk, face, legs, privates. Toilet flushing is limited to once a day for liquid, all solids get flushed immediately. We have 2 wells and a cistern that we rely on for water when the public system is down – however in the event of an earthquake, those might be destroyed. We have stored water in 500 gal barrels , 3000 gals at present. We also have 2 good sized ponds nearby if it became essential and filters/tablets to purify it.

  • My family, we are sick so we are unable to fully participate but I want to comment since we are learning from each other.
    I would use disposible plates,tablewear, cups, napkins, paper towels, plastic tablewear to avoid more dishes. Use basins, rather than fill sinks with water.
    We’d use baby wipes for bathing. I can only last a few days morale wise until I need a water bath. Disinfectant wipes would help short term with spot cleaning. Ideally we’ll buy land with a well and water available on it.
    As far as bathing, we’ve done that camping, made a homemade shower out of pvc, still have it. But we found a very reasonable shower/potty tent for a reunion, spacious for me and I’m a extra large person. I’d recommend putting it on a commercial shower deck/ homemade pallet type thing so you are not standing in the water. When we got home we just put the shower tent fabric in a front loading clothes washer. I digress.

    To bathe, we started with treated water. We used solar shower bags that needed to be laid in the sun for the water to warm so bathing first thing in the morning is out. (It may be an idea to shower in the evening, especially if you are warming the water via the sun. And sleeping cleaner in bedding equals less work when laundering bedding, especially if you are using sleeping bags. And consider lining them with liners made of flat sheets sewen together or buy liners commercially available.)
    We even used solar shower bags in a former apartment when our electric went out. We heated the city water on our stove, natural gas heated. The pan didn’t have much of a lip so I think we put the hot water into a large clean mop bucket with a lip and used a funnel to fill the solar shower bags. And the hardest part would be holding them up while the other bathes. The bags have a shower type head and hose attached. Water is very heavy so perhaps several bags with less water in each? I’d recommend washing hair first, then having someone help if one is going to shower, while the other is holding the bags up so the water is gravity fed.
    If sponging, maybe finding a soap that wouldn’t irritate if not fully rinsed. When we camped we used biodegradable when we showered.

    We have used commercial bathing wipes. And they were great. I felt clean, no smell. No residue or feeling like anything was on the skin, nothing to irritate. Not as cheap as baby wipes but for short term problem they worked better than baby wipes.
    We have a battery operated pump that pulls water from a bucket to a shower like hose. This wouldn’t be an option in a long term situation as you’d likely want to save your batteries.
    There are on demand/instant propane water heaters.
    If we bought land, we though we’d build some cement bathrooms like campers have, so we could accomodate extended family/guests. Wouldn’t it be idea to have a tank mouned high on a wall, like they do in England for on demand/instant water heating. Even if there is no heat or you are off grid, ie heated on a wood stove in the room which would also be heating the space. It would be nice to have a high reservoir from which you could take a gravity fed shower. You’d need high window for ventilation.
    Hand Washing
    Costco has sold hand sanitizer in a several cups sized pump.
    You could use a solar shower bag just to have the shower head, the tubing clamps off. When we camp and have water faucets, we tie a bar of soap in a knee high nylon and tie hanging to the spigot. Figure out something that works.
    I was thinking that I should have some dry beans cooked and frozen so I could just thaw, rather than needing to soak, rinse and simmer for hours. Using a lot of water and fuel. Same as cooking meat and refreezing so you’d save on fuel or be able to give it away if you had no power to keep it frozen and you would be using up precious fuel in an emergency. Most people make the same recipes. Rice is easy to put on and walk away, frozen veggies can be micorwaved. But if you’ve got cooked taco meat, you pull it out of the fridge thawed, heat and put out ingredients and you have tacos or tortillas for dinner without having to tend to anything on the stove. We did this when my son was born, had like 60 meals for two cooked up, sans the easy sides.

    I’m going to do rain barrels, we are in the desert and get most of our rain in July and August, a goal for next spring. Great for watering outside.
    We may need to bug out early just because of water. The Rio Grande is dry. Their is a creek in the mtns that goes dry this time of year, no rain and hot weather and evaporation. We are in a drought. Break into a city reservoir? In a longer term situarion, people would get ugly fast without water. And without power, backup batteries only last a couple of weeks to pump water from the reservoirs. We’d need to prefilter if it was muddy. Coffee filters. My husband recommend we build a sand pre-filter to pour it through.

    We like the WAG bags for short term toilet. We’ve a seat that goes on a 5 gallon bucket. We had a block sewer line recently. Couldn’t flush or shower or do dishes. It was slow draining on a Friday night. Gone most of Saturday. Called a couple of plumbers on Sunday, one didn’t have a main line cleaner, the other failed. He brought someone with more experiance Monday and finally got it unclogged. Waste in black garbage bags in hot sun is a crisis! We did install 3 new low flow toilets so that helps.
    Wear outer clothes longer between washing. I understand liquid disolves easier than powdered detergent. Try it in a small amount of hot water and then add it to the tub of water. Obvious stains are going to have to be delt with by hand. Those laundry plungers would be nice for agitation. New ie clean rubber plunger, drilled with holes, to help sudsing? My husband said he’d agitate, leave to soak and then agitate again, rinse. For wringing we bought a industrial size mop “mangle”, is what my hubby says elderly relatives called them, recently at Costco on sale. It is the kind that wrings/mangles the rope head type mops. Mom used to squeeze and twist by hand, uhg. It has a good pocket to stick the clothes in and a plate that is pressed against them via a lever, and the water is all caught below. They’ve a nicely placed handhold so you can tip the reservoir to empty. Use rinse water to flush toilets.
    Water Containers
    One last thing I’d like to mention. We bought some water in large multi-gallon jugs at Costco before a storm and they all sprang leaks in months. We bought those blue Culligan Gallon jugs also at Walmart, you can bring them back to refill with filtered water. Anyway, we’ve had some of them for 8 years, always filled with water and had no problems.
    We’ve decided to buy some small bottles. We love baseball and our local AAA minor league lests us in with water bottles with the label removed. We live in the far SW ie hot. Cold water is sold for more than we can pay for a case of almost 17 oz each/4 Gallons. And we don’t want to be running to the water fountain for warm water for 4 plus hours with a preschooler. Since we buy it anyway, we might as well have lots on hand. We can avoid paying for parking, they have buy one seat get one free for adults and the kids club prepaid gets our son in for a half of bogof.
    Hello? I’m a entitled pricess. Use wipes or skip! LOL
    The numbers could vary. So I say focus on drinking water and a couple of baths per week. Guess 2 gallons per person per day. This can be done short term if you have a toilet alternative.
    Cut Back
    Use wipes before you bathe and you use soap like Dr. Bonners.
    You could catch grey water from some hand washing and bathing and then use the water for laundry, then pour it down the toilet.
    Use disposible serving dishes, cook one pot meals. Wash dishes once per day, use paper towel to wipe out food into garbage first. use basins, start with the cleanest. Use the rinse water from dishes to clean, add cleanser/bleach to the rinse water for mopping and use to flush.

  • NancyB

    We experienced 4 days without running water when the pump at our rural water utility went down on a Friday, and it was Tuesday before we had alternative water from a neighboring system. The baby wipes really came in handy. I want to get a Water Bob to store water in the bathtub for emergencies. I can live a few days without laundry or a real shower, but I have to draw the line at no flush toilets. During our water emergency, we hauled water from 15 miles away in coolers. We did not have to use our stash of bottled water, and made it through just fine. Longer term without running water? I don’t think we are ready for that at all.

  • I completly failed at this one. First off I am sick so had no desire to shower in stored water and after looking at my water storage I wouldn’t have had enough. to anyways. I am wondering how to store water in apartments? I do have a river and lake really close by so I can purify water but I need get a good purifier. Also how could we find alternitives to a toilet for apartments?

    • martin

      Flushing the toilet with water is not a wise idea when water supplies are short. Not to mention that the sewer system would be down too without water.
      Instead people should use emergency sanitation (ie bucket, bags and bleach). Get a medium size bucket with a sealable lid on the top. (remove the lid). Put a heavy duty rubbish bag into it. Place two wooden planks on the sides so you can sit on it. Do the business. Tie up the bag properly and put it back to the bucket. Splash some bleach on the bags against viruses etc. Put the lid back on the top and make sure it is sealed properly. When the bucket is full you should bury it in a 2-3ft deep hole somewhere. Make sure you bury it at least 100ft from nearby wells or rivers.
      Hope that helps.

    • Grimm

      We also live in an apartment and water storage is a concern for me. I have 6 gal jugs in the hall closet currently. We plan on getting a few 55 gal drums soon. You have to list all the places there is water in your home- water heater, toilet tanks, fish tanks etc. These will help should you really need the water.

  • Ren

    We had some water stashed and since we live close to a river we bought a water purifying device last year, transporting of the water would be a pain if it ever came down to that, so we’ll have to put some thought into that. We have baby wipes to use for quick body cleaning and laundry will just have to be the old fashioned way with some soap. I told my husband I want an old washing board for Christmas. It’ll look cool as a rustic decoration and who know it might come in handy:)

  • We’ve lived this. Last month our well pump failed and we used our 2500 holding tank water, but then that pump went out too, so we had to use buckets and scoops to get the water where we needed it. Of course the three weeks the well was down were also the hottest in our area with temps spiking to 106. We were conservative in our usage but had to keep our livestock alive and didn’t want to lose our vegetable garden or risk losing the fruit tree crops. We discovered through all this that we could easily go through 2000 gallons a week with the heat. We had just put in some landscaping and were trying to get that through the heat as well, so if we had let it go we probably would have reduced the water usage considerably. We do have a composting toilet that we used, and frankly after three weeks I almost forgot about using the flushing kind. We also learned more about our well, which I knew very little about as the prior owners had never logged any info. We now know it is 126 feet deep, that it uses PVC pipe and has a submersible pump. We know that two people can pull the pump and then with the use of Amish well buckets we can get water out of the well if we ever lose power completely. You can learn how to make one of these well buckets on YouTube. Along with our holding tank we have stored bottled water which got us through the household usage, such as dishes, drinking, bathing and pet water. We live near a river so we could get water relatively easily. I’ll post some photos of the composting toilet on facebook if anyone is interested.

  • Sueann

    I had already showered and had a load of laundry in when I
    checked email, so I blew it right out of the gate. But I had the hubby go out
    and turn off our meter and we spent the rest of the day using our water supply.

    Total tally is 28-30 gallons, used sparingly. The breakdown:

    2 gallons for drinking

    ½ gallon for cooking

    1 gallon +1 cup for an herbal remedy

    3 gallons for a coffee enema (including equip. clean-up)

    5 gallons for dishes (I hadn’t done them the night before)

    5 gallons for flushing

    12+/- for hand washing and toddler bathing

    The water we used was in plastic distilled water jugs. I
    have slowly been getting rid of them as we purchase better long-term storage. We
    have two 55gal drums that we didn’t even tap, but would have if it had been
    necessary. We also had 1 ½ hours of good rain today that we collected off the
    roof in our kiddie pool. I had intended to give our child her bath in that, but
    didn’t factor in roof debris/shingle sludge, so we had to use the tub. The
    water I had heated for her bath was too hot at that point, so we had to
    seriously cool it off which is where the majority of water was spent. Lesson
    learned: we can definitely cut back on volume.

    I was determined to go about my routine as usual, which
    included (gross, I know, but they allow me to function) my regular coffee
    enema. I used our bathroom toilet as normal, but if local utilities are shut
    off, then I am going to have to figure out something else, because backed-up
    sewer systems just aren’t my thing, ya know? Anyway, I managed.

    This was definitely a revelation for me. I had no idea how
    much water we really use. Now if this had been a real scenario, showers would
    be 1-2 gallons in a garden sprayer with kitchen hose/sprayer attached (used to
    use this camping and it’s almost as good as the real thing). Laundry would be a once a week gig, wearing
    outer clothing multiple days. And I will be cooking more one-pot meals.

    We also know that we are going to need a hand pump for the
    barrels, but can wait until after the challenge is over.

    We discussed real world scenarios and what our options are.
    Priority is to get a water purification system. For sources, a well probably
    isn’t one as we would have to tap the Aquifer 900+ feet down. The nearest creek
    is over a mile away and our area is prone to drought. We also rent, which
    limits what we can do with our property. This has really gotten us to thinking.

    Thank you for the challenge!

  • granny mae

    We had boxed cereal for breakfast. Did the sponge bath in the sink, filled from a jug I had filled and stashed in the bathroom. Lunch was the usual, a few crackers with a little cheese. Didn’t feel well today so we skipped the laundry however I have done my laudry in the kitchen sink or bathtub by hand for years when we were in the army! We would use that water to flush the toilet. Since I was ill when the guys all got home for dinner they fixed dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup ! That was it for today, hope I feel better tomorrow !

  • Lynne

    We had a chance this past weekend to practice some of these things. We went with friends boating and stayed on a beach on a lake for four days. Whatever went in came out from plastic bottles to poop.
    We showered with lake water but it was not drinkable so we had to carry all of our cooking and drinking water with us.
    Last year when we had a water challange I found that I was short on laundry equiptment. I bought a laundry type plunger and that really helps. However I wish I had one of the old wringers that was on my mothers washer.
    Each time I learn a few more things and add a few more things to my preparedness list and then supplies. Thanks again for doing this.

  • Carrie

    This one was not to hard, as every winter we have frozen pipes. So we always have water on hand. However my husband did get me a 50 gal. rain barrel today~YEAH!!! I am so excited that it is suppose to rain this weekend.

  • Paul

    This one is pretty easy. We live in the mountains partially off grid to begin with. While i would dispute our well ever being destroyed an us surviving to worry about it i’ll pretend for the test. We have 3500 gallons at any given time stored plus another 1400 in the greenhouse. Plumbing water usage is not an issue as we can, and have, just go in the woods. Rainwater collection will help extend the quantity but we don’t get a whole lot here. Although i can say the nearest water source today is falling from the sky. Does that count?

  • Today is going to be the hardest of all and I don’t know how much I will be able to do. We live in a small apartment and my wife is totally whim behind this 7 day challenge. She thinks it is a waste of time. And unfortunately we don’t have enough room to store much water. I think for the two of us we have about 17 liters of clean drinking water and only about 15 gallons of water for everything else. Once we have a house I will be able to handle this one much better. I plan on getting a solar water heater installed when I install my solar panel bank and like 10-15 55 gallon drums. Also will get a chemical toilet kit. Problem is convincing the wife we need it. She comes from a different lifestyle and it was hard for me to even convince her that a 6 month supply of wheat that will last 30 years was worth $100…. Wish me luck everyone.

  • Agrien

    In the area where I’m at now? Start collecting rain water. Where I live? Save up water just because, hope the river nearby is still running, and pray. But… the water heater, at least for a time. And the winter snows. Though heading for the hills before it gets to that point sounds quite appealing. lol

  • Kaytee Sumida

    One major problem I have– accessing the water in the 55g blue barrels. I have one of those plastic “shaker” siphons, but it not only is slow, but I can’t get much more than half the barrel emptied. Tipping the barrels… well, probably not a good idea, even if I could move them enough that they could be tipped (two of the three are partially under a fixed shelf). I’ve tried to find a pump that would 1) be able to access the water without cutting/damaging the barrel, 2) does not require electricity, and 3) is food safe– any suggestions? They aren’t offered on the prep sites I’ve found, even ones which sell the barrels (and that little “shaker” siphon).
    Currently, have all water storage containers full, except rain barrels. Have a Berkey filter, which is used for all our water (city tap water). Only nearby source of fresh water IS tap water (or water dispenser machines at nearby stores), unless you count our neighbor’s pool… which is filled with “tap” water.
    For this day’s challenge– yes, I have enough water in accessible storage (5g and 1 g jugs) to get through the day (except for garden needs). Hoping for a bit of rain today/tomorrow, and then will top off the rain barrels with the hose.

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