You only have 3 days to live without water. Most people don’t know this. And it’s a safe bet that the majority of the 300,000 people, and 100,000 homes and businesses affected by the chemical spill (4-methylcyclohexane methanol used in the froth flotation process of coal washing and preparation) in West Virginia into the Elk and Kanawha Rivers didn’t, or don’t know this. Nor, I’m pretty sure, do they know the remaining “Rule of 3’s (which are, you can only live 3 minutes without air/oxygen, 3 hours without shelter and, 3 weeks without food.) These rules aren’t something some cleaver prepper or survivalist made up. These are literally rules to LIVE by – to survive by. If the people of West Virginia or anyone for that matter knew the Rule of 3’s and had provision for such unexpected disasters – which all of us should by the way; this chemical spill resulting in the ban on tap water, the shutting down of schools, offices, restaurants and the like, would perhaps be a mere hiccup or inconvenience in the days to come.
Preparedness is about planning ahead for “anything”. Never would the people of West Virginia, or any of us for that matter, think that a chemical spill would affect us, let alone affect our drinking, bathing, and daily activities.
And, as it seems with all disasters/catastrophes came the run on super markets and groceries stores vying for that last remaining bottle of water (it has already been reported that stores in the affected counties have been stripped clean of bottled water as panic and the resulting chaos set in.)
So, why just 3 days without water? We are walking water containers. Every organ in our body NEEDS water to continue to live – without it we die. (gulp) But another crucial reason we need water is it carries oxygen and nutrients throughout our bodies and flushes impurities that would otherwise remain in our system. Remember as a kid we played that party game where you chew 2 -3 crackers and then tried to whistle? You didn’t? Well try it. The crackers absorb all the saliva, okay spit, in your mouth drying it up. This same thing would happen if you ate without water. A dry body cannot absorb or digest food. The body needs at least 8 glasses (or 64 ounces of water per day).
What are those 300,000 people going to do to get water for themselves AND their families? West Virginia’s National Guard has arranged to dispense bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies. But what this means is, people just struggling to get out from the massive snow storm that struck the east coast a week ago, will now find themselves waiting in long lines to get … drinking water thus starting the economic ripple-affect, more gas, more groceries, loss of income, et cetera.
Until this mess is cleaned up or shall I say cleared up - as this is not like a typical spill where things can be scooped up, this mess has to be flushed out - water will be a precious commodity because boiling it is not an option as it will not remove the chemicals. This means, the nine counties affected will be vying for bottled water – not just for drinking but for cooking and bathing (residents were instructed not to drink the tap water, bathe in it or cook with the water.) And if that isn’t hardship alone, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; this chemical can also cause severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering. Yikes!
Again, as with most disasters there is a pecking order as to who gets what. First on the priority list will be hospitals, nursing homes and schools, but wait, West Virginia American Water spokesperson Jennifer Sayre has urged residents not to panic and rush out to grocery stores to purchase bottled water, as local officials were working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to open water distribution centers. Yeah right.
If you haven't done so already, learn the basic needs of your family; food, water, shelter, protection, first-aid, warmth and community, and how much of each is needed for you and your family for an extended time (6 months to a year for me.) And for goodness sake – or shall I say, your life's sake remember the Rule of 3’s.
- Survivor Jane
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