Theo Alexopoulos
Water is essential to your survival. You need at least a three-day supply of drinking water. But work toward having enough for two weeks.

Editor's note: This article is part of a series on earthquake preparation. Read the rest of the articles here.

Go a day without water. You’d probably come off feeling OK — thirsty and maybe have a headache. Now go two days. At day two, the body starts to get stressed to the point you feel the effects. The further dehydrated you get, the more likely you are to feel sluggish and nauseated and to make poor decisions. Dehydration can kill you. You can survive without food. You can’t survive without water.

In a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which could strike the Wasatch Front, the shaking could last for up to a minute in some areas, and liquefaction could destroy the pipes that bring precious water to your home. It could be months before drinking water systems are restored. When there’s nothing coming from the tap, you really start to appreciate water, especially when your mouth is dry.

To encourage you to prepare, the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah have organized the Great Utah ShakeOut, the state’s largest earthquake drill ever, now with more than 773,000 participants. Join us. It’s a chance to drop, cover and hold on with the entire state. Then review your emergency plans, check your home for hazards, and add to your emergency supplies and your emergency water.

Here are a few tips for water storage and water use in a disaster:

Try to work toward storing a two-week supply of water for each person in your home. That’s a half gallon of drinking water per person per day. My family would need 28 gallons. Nursing mothers need more. People living in hot climates need more.

You’ll need the same amount of water again for sanitation purposes.

Don’t ration water if supplies run low. Drink what you need and then try to find more.

Minimize the amount your body needs by staying cool and reducing activity.

Buying commercially packaged water is best and comes with expiration dates, but you can also prepare your own water storage containers.

Choose plastic two-liter bottles and clean them. Fill them with water and keep them in a dark, cool place. Rotate your water every six months.

You may choose to purchase heavy-duty storage bottles or containers.

More information is available from FEMA.

Choose to survive. Choose now to have a supply of water.

Joe Dougherty is a preparedness expert and the spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. Send your preparedness tips to [email protected]. Daily preparedness tips available at