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Let’s say there’s a natural disaster, riot, or other form of SHTF-style unrest that forces you to stay at home. If you’re adequately prepared and in a survival mindset, you’ve probably got some drinking water and other basic resources stored in a closet, cupboard, garage, or shed. However, if you’re stuck for a week, two weeks, or more without running water, your supplies may run out. Fortunately, there’s a large water source already in your home you may not have thought of using—your water heater.

Water heater

An ordinary home water heater generally has a capacity of 30-80 gallons, but some may exceed even this amount. Since it’s sealed in a metal container and refilled regularly as you use the hot water tap, this water should be relatively clean if your heater is in good working order.  Then again, it’s always best to be on the safe side and filter, boil, and/or purify this water before drinking it. This is highly recommended if your heater has been inactive for an extended period, since residual heat can provide an environment for bacteria growth. Also, water straight from the heater may not taste great, due to the precipitation of minerals from hard water and possible sediment in the tank. However, drinking from the water heater certainly better than dehydration if you’re out of other water sources.

Water heater 2

Here are the basic steps to drain your water heater:

  • At the first sign of a disaster, TURN OFF the electrical power, gas, and pilot light on the heater. Close the cold water inlet or fill valve to avoid floodwater and other contamination entering the tank.
  • When you need water, connect a clean hose to the water heater drain, and run it into a bucket, pot, or other container. Open the drain valve.
  • Open the pressure relief valve on the tank, and collect the water you need. Then shut both the drain and pressure relief valve until you need more water.
  • Filter, boil, or purify the water as needed.

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