Thursday, January 25, 2018

Lessons From a Water Crisis

A few days ago I posted about the water crisis in South Africa.  Already there are several "lessons learned" that can be useful for your own preparations:

  • Originally Day Zero (the day the taps will shut off due to having no water in the city) was April 22.  That day has been moved up to April 12.  Lesson: even if you are given a "date" in which something will happen, be prepared ahead of time in case the timeline is moved up.
  • Tourists are also getting into the act while they are in the city and doing what they can to conserve water.  Lesson: look at what is happening in the places you will be vacationing.  Are there problems you should be prepared for that are happening in those places?
  • Water is being recycled.  All water.  Bathwater is being used to flush toilets.  Water from cooking is strained and used to water plants.  Lesson:  do you know all the ways there are to recycle water?  Even if your city has no water problem right now, practice conserving water; these skills may become useful in the future.
  • People are also conserving water.  They are taking 90 second showers and not washing their hair every day.  Lesson:  Do you practice water conservation regularly?  You may not have to go as extreme as not washing your hair but simple things like not letting the water run when you brush your teeth would be a start.
  • Hand sanitizer is a big seller.  Lesson:  How much hand sanitizer do you have stockpiled?  Keeping as clean as possible during a disaster can go a long way towards preventing disease.  If you have no water to wash your hands with, hand sanitizer is a next-best option.
  • "People are buying anything that can hold water; no buckets, no cans, and no drums are in stock (at local stores)."  Lesson:  How many containers do you have on hand that can be used to store water?  This is not only for a water crisis but in the event of any local disaster like a flood or earthquake that shuts off your water, filling buckets and containers at the first sign of trouble can be a big help when you turn on the tap and nothing comes out.
  • Residents are leery of drinking tap water as some have said it is already contaminated.  Lesson: Do you have multiple ways to purify water to make it fit to drink?
  • Due to the tap water problem, residents make a trek to another town on a weekly basis to get their allotted water rations.  Lesson:  Would you have a way to get to the next town if you needed to (some people are too ill, old, or poor to do this)?  Do you have containers to take with you to get your ration?  Are you physically able to carry the water you do receive?
  • The dams that supply the city's water have dropped precipitously, some are even barren reservoir beds now.  Lesson:  Do you know where your tap water comes from?  How is the supply looking both now and in the future?
  • People who have money are leaving the city until the crisis subsides.  The elderly, disabled, and impoverished don't have money to leave, they don't even have money to buy water.  Lesson:  Are you prepared for a long-term evacuation?  If you had to evacuate for weeks or months what would be your plan?  If you can't afford to leave, what would be your bug-in plan in this situation?
  • "There are a lot of angry people and not enough answers on how this will be resolved."  Lesson:  The government will probably do what they can to avert a disaster but in the end they are limited to what they can do.  You can yell at your city officials all you want but that won't change the situation.  How can you fix the situation and not the blame?

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