6 Surprising Lessons Learned from a Planned Water Outage

Blackboard with the text Be preparedBy Gaye Levy

Over the past few days, something has become very clear to me: Backdoor Survival readers are a community.  I have been reading the 176 (and counting) comments to the recent Buzz, and more than a few of you have mentioned that you learn as much from comments as from the articles themselves.  Nothing could make me happier!

Along those lines, recently I received an email from Karen in Nebraska.  The topic was “What I learned about water recently” and she wrote about the lessons she learned during a planned water outage.

Normally speaking, we prep for an unexpected water outage but that does not mean a planned outage is any less convenient.  (I was going to say miserable, but as preppers, we are well prepared so we are NOT miserable.)

With Karen’s permission, I share her experience so that you, too, can learn from it.

6 Lessons From a Planned Water Outage

A couple of weeks ago, we had a water outage (we knew in advance they would be working on our water main for about three days.) I thought it would be a perfect time to test our preps, especially since it was so cold out.

Here’s what I was surprised by.

1. We used a lot less water than I thought we would.

We ended up finding excuses not to use water, when we knew it would take more effort.

We used baby wipes and Clorox wipes for cleaning and hygiene. We used mouthwash instead of rinsing our teeth with water. We used a lot of hand sanitizer instead of washing our hands. (I know, not the best, but mostly that was my husband and kids when I wasn’t looking!)

We ate a lot of canned soup, the kind that doesn’t need water, and we used almost all of our paper plates, bowls and cups, and plastic utensils.

2. We made a lot more laundry than usual.

We ended up using almost every piece of clothing we owned, and figured out what didn’t fit anymore or looked bad or shabby, because we didn’t want to use our water for washing clothes.

I had already not done laundry for several days beforehand because, well, busy life, so clean clothes were at a premium. Clean socks became a barter item by the last day!

3. We need to revamp our toilet strategy.

The boys could go outside for number one, but we girls couldn’t. We filled our tub up before they shut our water off, and used it all in one day flushing the toilet.

By the third day, the house was pretty stinky. It was like although the kids knew they needed to flush less, their bodies needed to go more often than usual! We were using our portable toilet and kitty litter, and putting our TP in a separate bag to go out to trash. It was still pretty stinky. So we are going to make a separate area in the basement for next time.

4. We ended up getting dehydrated a little.

Because we knew we were only going to have the water we had in the house, we all kept finding excuses not to use it. Unfortunately, drinking ended up being one of the things we didn’t do.

We had milk and juice in the fridge, and used up more of those than usual. I didn’t realize this until we ran out of milk earlier than usual, and I took a look at our bottled water. We’d only used a few bottles, where I figured we’d be almost out!

So next time we have a water test, I’ll be encouraging more water drinking. It was easy to overlook their water intake, because they were still going to school and work, and I was busy too. I won’t make that mistake again!

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5. Cooking was harder than it had to be.

I didn’t realize until I looked back, but I kept choosing meals that didn’t use much water.

It was easier to open a can of soup than haul a gallon of water into the kitchen to boil something or use paper plates than haul water to wash dishes. (Plus I hate doing dishes anyway!)

I spent one whole afternoon trying to figure out a meal I could make without any water at all. (Hot ham and cheese sandwiches, canned corn, and canned peaches!) By the end of the three days, my husband said he would be happy not to have soup for several months!

6.  I am not at all sure anymore whether we are ready for a longer term emergency.

This was the first time I tested my water preps, and it didn’t go at all how I thought it would.

I have several tweaks to make, and my mindset is definitely different. I am not at all sure anymore whether we are ready for a longer term emergency, especially since we took the lazy way out for a lot of things.

We wouldn’t be able to do things the way we did if the water was shut off unexpectedly and we didn’t know when it would be back on. So I will be reworking my plans and restocking my canned goods. I learned a lesson here, and I just wanted to tell someone who might understand!

The Final Word

What are the takeaways from Karen’s experience?  Let me list them for you.

  1. Stock up on disposable goods, including paper plates, utensils, TP, plastic garbage bags and even disposable cookware,
  2. If a planned outage is scheduled, do laundry ahead of time.  Actually, keeping up the the laundry is a good idea regardless.  You never know when an unexpected water or power outage will occur.
  3. Stockpile extra socks!!!
  4. Think through how you will deal with human waste.  This is where extra heavy garbage bags come into play.  Some are available with odor-control features.  Hint:  bigger is not always better.  A bag full of human waste will be heavy.
  5. Even with all the preps in the world carefully stored away in your prepper-closet, there will always be surprises.  Take a weekend or even a day to shut off the water and practice your preps.  That is the very best way to discover your prepper strengths and prepper weaknesses.

I would like to thank Karen, once again, for sharing her experience and the lessons she learned from a planned water outage.  I don’t know about you, but I am now on a mission to find some extra socks!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye started Backdoor Survival to share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. She considers her sharing of knowledge her way of giving back and as always, we at Activist Post are grateful for her contributions. If you would like to read more from Gaye Levy, check out her blog at http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/. You can also visit her Facebook page or sign up for updates by email by clicking on Backdoor Survival Updates.

  • Pyra Gorgon

    Been there, done that. Water emergency tests always show what you lack… :-

  • carpkiller

    We would not be having a water shortage in the western states if it were not for our government.

  • julie

    Good article. One thought, about the baby (or other pre-prepared) wipes. My understanding is anecdotal only, but they alter the skin’s ph factor, and overuse in delicate areas (which don’t get a lot of airing out) can lead to rash or even infection. This would only be an issue with prolonged use, but it should be a consideration, because as a solution for more than a couple of days, it would not be a good strategy.

Thank you for sharing.
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