Sometime about Sept. 14, 2008, a lot of people who’d stayed for Hurricane Ike made a depressing discovery: All the emergency water they’d run into their bathtubs had leaked out.
So tip No. 1 is to make sure the seals in your tub will hold up a long time against the pressure of a full load of water.
A better idea, though, is to invest in something such as a WaterBOB — a big flexible plastic bladder that fits inside a bathtub.
The box contains four items:
• The bladder, which according to the company is made of “heavy-duty 10 mm food grade Linear Low Density Polyethylene plastic,” which “follows and stays within U.S. FDA guidelines.”
• A funnel of sorts that screws into the bladder and is held over the spigot in the tub. It’s a little awkward, but serviceable.
• A siphon pump that screws into the BOB and works very well.
• Two caps.
Filling the BOB is easy. Just roll it out on the tub’s floor, attach the threaded end of the funnel to the bladder, hold the wide end of the funnel over the spigot and let it rip. If you’re smart enough to have some zip-ties in the house, you probably won’t even have to hold on the whole time. Filling takes about 20 minutes.
Getting water out is easy, too. The operative part of the siphon pump is a red accordion bulb with a valve on top. You turn the valve one way to close the system, pump the red bulb a few times and the water flows. Turn the valve the other way, and system vents and the water stops.
One tip: BOB won’t stop until you tell it to, so don’t forget to open the valve or you’ll siphon water into the tub or onto the floor.
Pros and cons
The main benefit is simple volume. You don’t realize how much water you can use in a day until you have to scrounge for it. You don’t realize how heavy water is until you have to haul a bunch of 5-gallon jugs up a couple of flights of stairs.
So, having 100 gallons in-house is a very good thing.
The water is clean. Let’s face it, nobody wants to drink or cook straight out of a bath tub.
The main downside is that BOB takes up the whole bath tub. So, if you’ve only got one tub, bathing is going to be tricky.
If you have two, you’re set.
Other brands include AquaPod and Watersafe. You can even order 55-gallon drums specially made for water storage, but they are heavy and, with shipping, very pricey.
• You never can have too much clean water. Bottled drinking water arrived in Galveston within hours of Ike. Take all that’s offered and use your big supply for cooking and washing.
• Don’t be too hasty about dumping your emergency supply. Water pressure will come and go after a hurricane and when the city water first comes back on, it’ll probably need to be boiled for drinking and cooking, which will eat up your fuel supply. Use city water for washing and cook with your supply.
• Reduce, reuse and recycle. The only water going down the drain should be from the toilet. Use leftover cooking water to wash utensils. Trap bathing water to fill the toilet tank. In fact, the last stop for every drop ought to be the toilet tank.