A person new to preparedness recently contacted me with a bunch of questions about how they could better prepare for a disaster or SHTF. One of the questions was concerning the pool they had in their backyard, namely, was the water safe to drink. Pools are wonderful preparedness items. How else can you efficiently store ten thousand or more gallons of water? Yet, there are many questions that need to be answered in some folks mind’s. Let’s take a nice logical look at why a pool is a good water storage device for SHTF, as long as you understand a few things.
The first question is, what about the chemicals? That is a good question, but I want to back things up a bit further, to the source of the water, to put things in perspective. When you originally filled your pool the water probably came from one of a few places, a municipal source or a well. You could have easily dipped a cup in the water and taken a swig with no ill effects, right? Keep that in mind. The only things that change the composition of the water are things you put in it or things that fall in. Ok, back to the chemicals. Anyone who owns a pool is very familiar with chemicals. We spend countless hours trying to balance PH and chlorine levels for nice sparkly water. If you keep up with regular maintenance and keep the chlorine levels in spec, that is about all you ever have to do..but you don’t ever drink the water because it has chlorine present.
Rest assured folks, the very same mechanism that makes chlorine keep your pool free from bacteria and algae is also chlorine’s downfall. Without getting into too much of that there “science”, the chlorine reacts with water to form Hypochlorus Acid. Think of Hypochlorus Acid as your cougar aunt that is always on the hunt to join with any stable man. She will lure just about any man, join with him, and the two become one and bug off to Vegas. Same thing happens in the pool. Except the Hypochlorous acid ends up as salts, carbon dioxide, nitrogen gases, and even water. The long and short is that most of the chlorine is gone rather quickly from a pool, hence the reason why we keep having to add chlorine to swimming pools. To boot, there is so much water in relation to any bad stuff that is left over that it won’t be harmful to ingest the water anyways. Once the chlorine has left the pool we are left with…water.
The water soon feels the effects of not having chlorine, Algae, bacteria,and protozoa will begin to grow. Why? Because a backyard pool is the perfect petrie dish to grow these little nasties. Your backyard water storage can soon become a swamp. If an event takes place and you find yourself looking towards your pool as a source of water the first thing you are going to want to do is cover it. Covering your pool will benefit you in two ways. First, it will slow evaporation. Second, it will limit the growth of the nasties as sunlight can accelerate their growth.
At some point you are going to need start using your water and here is the key; treat the pool as you would treat any water in an emergency situation (see our “Understanding SHTF Water Purification” video). Remember, you know a few things about your water. The water isn’t tainted by agriculture or industrial run off, so you don’t have to treat it with carbon based filters to rid it of dangerous chemicals. What you need to watch out for in your pool water are the bacteria and protozoa. Simple and inexpensive filters, will work to clean the water from bacteria and protozoa Both will serve you well for drinking water. If you need something a bit larger, say for cleaning gallons at a time. It is possible for the water to contain viruses, neither of which are effectively removed by the aforementioned filters, but it is highly unlikely for North America. If in doubt, boiling will take care of viruses as well. If the water is really cloudy or algae infested, remember to “pre-filter” the water by placing an old T-shirt over a 5 gallon bucket. Pour the dirty pool water through the T-Shirt, then filter it using one of the mentioned filters. The key here is you know your water isn’t contaminated with dangerous chemicals, it only needs to be filtered of bacteria and protozoa.
Depending on your area of the country you may or may not have to add water to your pool periodically during normal use. I am fortunate that in my area I rarely have to add water. Then again, I am only lucky to be able to swim from June to the middle of September,it is too cold any other times of the year. Only during the hottest months do I have to add water, the rainfall generally replenishes it. Over the years I think I have pumped out more excess water than I’ve added. Even so, if the water begins to run low, I plan to run one of the downspouts directly onto the cover. My cover is semi-porous, so it will act as a filter to get any large particulates out. You may or may not be so lucky. Either way, if you have a swimming pool or have access to a one, surviving a grid down event is much easier.