Folks, if I hadn't already said it enough--You have to have water.
Are you on city water? Do you have a well pump? If the former, please please consider getting some storage water (no, not those milk-jug water bottles). Seriously. We used 4 gallons a day just for dish washing. And that was being mighty chintzy with it, and using the same 4 gallons all day. No draining it and refilling it. We had to use a minimum of 2 gallons each time we flushed the one super-low-flush toilet we have (the others took 3-4 and 4-5 gallons per flush). And lest this be tmi, we didn't flush the toilet every time, because it takes too much water to do that, when you don't know when/if you are going to be able to get water flowing soon. We would use a gallon or so a day, just for KoolAid. Dehydration can be a serious concern, even in winter.
If you have a well pump, when was the last time you had it checked, serviced, etc? When was it installed? Do you know how to repair the more basic elements of it? Is it submersible, or above ground? Are mice getting to the wires, and eating the insulation (this can cause a serious short--and a fire, if it is bad enough)? Is the insulation in your covering for the pump, holding up well under the elements? These are all things that need to be checked regularly, for optimal pump function...Do you have a light bulb 'heater' in there, to keep what elements are above ground from freezing in winter weather? Is the bulb working?
Another thing to consider, regardless of what method you have to get water into the house...what sort of backup do you have, if the power goes out? A generator is great...as long as the fuel lasts. Is your well in a place where you can USE a generator? Ours is not. Some folks have cisterns, and shallow pitcher pumps...that will work for a while. But what if the outage is a long-lasting one? What if we are hit with some really serious disaster? Do you have a means to get clean, SAFE water for you, your family, and your animals (if you have any)?
Personally, I'd love to have a solar or wind array set up for my well pump and a few other essential household systems. But that is kind of out of budget, unless/until the debts are all paid off. In the meanwhile, however, we are going to opt for a simple "deep well" hand pump. And hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we'll have another well dug and a hand pump installed, closer to the house (cause our current well is way out in the pasture--not the best place for ease of use). That will have to do for the time being...
Of course, we had to replace our entire pump/pressure tank system. The pressure tank for the old pump was underground. Speculation is (since we weren't about the spend the money to dig it up to make 100% sure) that it developed a hole, rather from rust or some other reason, and that caused the submersible pump to work overtime, every time a tap was opened, etc. It wore the pump out in more than double the time it should have (the pump was 7 yrs old, it should have lasted closer to 20). We have installed the new air pressure tank above ground, so we can be more sure it isn't rusting through. We now know when everything was put in, and so we have an easier means of determining when to do maintenance/replacements.
I have to say, though, that if the pump was going to go out, last weekend was the time. We have our tax refund coming in this week. We had decent enough weather to have the well man come in, with all of his heavy equipment, to replace the pump/tank. Another weekend, and while the money would have been there, the weather is supposed to be awful. Ice and snow. NOT the time to be losing your well--especially not with animals to care for, and other reliant systems...
There are many options for ensuring clean water once you have the water to start with. But the difficult part, in any emergency, is getting the water in the first place. Storing some water in advance is a far better idea, and less immediate expense, than the other options, of going out and buying as much as you can--*if* you can, when the whole world is doing the same thing...We use cleaned 2L soda bottles, with a teeeeeny bit of bleach added in (we're talking, no more than 1/4 tsp per 2L). Enough to sanitize it...and then we use KoolAid to cover any residual chlorine taste (opening the bottle up and letting it air out overnight will also help with that). We use untreated water for things like toilet flushing. I make sure to clearly mark the bottles we treat, so that we know which ones are suitable for consumption by people, and which ones are not (I put a big B on the top of the lid of the treated)...Seriously. It is that easy. Just rinse it out. Clean them out. Then you need to just fill it up from the tap, put in that teeny tiny amount of bleach into the jug, and put it away, wherever you store your emergency supplies. You need a minimum of 3 gallons, per person, per day. MINIMUM. More in summertime. And that minimum is only if you aren't doing anything. Laboring, in the summer time, will require/demand more water than sitting around in mid spring or fall, if you understand what I mean.
Things don't have to be all doom and gloom, folks, but being prepared is simply prudent. And especially if one has a family to care for? All the more important. If I'm single, and alone, and it is only myself that I am accountable for? Then if I don't prepare, well, I'm the one who suffers. But if I have a family dependent upon me? I'd better make sure that at the very least, we are prepared for THEM. It is no one else's job to take care of them. Remember that folks. The government may not be ABLE to help you. Your neighbors, may be in as bad, if not worse, shape than you are. There may very well not be any help in a week's time.
Do you want to count on someone else's timely actions to "save" you and yours? Or would you rather take the bull by the horns, and do it yourself? A can or two, every shopping trip. It isn't much, but it is a start.
Don't wait for someone to do the work for you. Do it yourself, start today, and keep on it! If nothing ever happens, then you've still go the food. But if something *does* happen, you'll be ready...