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Day Zero Is Coming – Here Are Some Tips To Help You Prepare For It

Cape Town, I need to level with you here. I am scared, I am really scared. I don’t think people are taking this drought near serious enough. I have seen what happens when a town runs dry, I have watched people lose their livelihoods and the devastation that followed. That was just a little town in the middle of nowhere, we are talking about a city here. We need to stand together, help each other and prepare for the worst. We need to prepare for Day Zero.

I don’t want to be alarmist, I don’t want to cause panic… but I would feel better having a plan in place. No one knows exactly when Day Zero will be, but the fact that Day Zero is unavoidable cannot be argued any longer.

We need to start going into survival mode and do everything possible to squeeze just another day from the existing water in our almost-empty dams. If we do enough, maybe it can still carry us into the start of the rainy season… a far stretch, but who knows?

We need to be prepared. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge and a plan of action. We need to be mindful of how we store our water in storage containers and avoid secondary contamination. Store water carefully and use it wisely. Find an alternative source that is safe and be aware of the risks you might face. Be careful of theft of your cached water resources, bore hole pumps and tanks – for people do desperate things when confronted by dire conditions. Have a safe alternative place to go to if things become uncontrollably bad… no one can predict how this is going to turn out, or how long we are going to find ourselves stuck in this mess.

Our so-called leaders have failed us terribly, I think it is clear that we cannot rely on them to fix this issue that very well could have been avoided if it wasn’t so grossly mis-managed. It is up to us.

I grew up in the Northern Cape, I am no stranger to droughts and water shortages or extreme heat conditions. Here are a few tips that I have that can prepare us for Day Zero. If you have any to add, please leave your suggestions in the comment section below. We need to unite, stand together and educate each other.

Stock up on the following:

1. 5x 5l bottles of water (at least), exclusively for drinking while the water stations  figure themselves out. Store them in a cool, dark place. I am personally going to try get at least 2x 5l bottles per family member.

2. 1x bulk pack of fragrance free (biodegradable) baby wipes, this does not include the wet wipes you need if you have a baby / toddler in nappies (you will need a whole lot more!)

3. Dry shampoo

4. Linen Spray to spray clothes and increase the time between laundry days. You can also make a solution of vinegar and water, or stay soft and water to spray clothes and hang up to air.

5. Water purification tablets should you be able to catch any rain water 

6. Milton to add to water to wash fruit and vegetables, as well as other disinfecting needs. With the listeriosis outbreak we can’t afford not to wash our fresh produce, and we are not sure what other hygienic challenges we might face.

7. Stock up on non-perishables. There might be times where there is not enough water to cook or do dishes.

8. Hand sanitizer… lots and lots of it. Teach your kids to use it frequently and pack it in their school bags. 

9. Bicarb and vinegar, two amazing ingredients for cleaning supplies that don’t destroy water for grey use.

10. With the water quality getting worse and worse, tummy bugs are inevitable. Stock up on Rehydrat, Immodium, Buscopan, probiotics and extra toilet paper.

11. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher for obvious reasons.

12. Stock up on extra underwear.

13. Use apple cider vinegar to naturally deodorize your armpits and go without showering. A gross thought, I know… but if there is no water, there is NO water.

14. Ladies, extend underwear life by wearing panty liners.

15. When cleaning dishes, pour the water into a plastic tub instead of the sink, you can reuse the dirty water in toilet.

16. Clean counters with disposable wipes.

*disclaimer : part of this list has been doing the rounds on Facebook, I have been trying to track the person to credit to no avail. I have added some of my own suggestions to the list, but thank you to whoever started it for making me think about it all!


And a last note from me… you might think that having a bore hole means you are safe. That water has to come from somewhere, and it is not in endless supply. Use it wisely, carefully and consciously.

May the force be with you, fellow Capetonians.

“I always worried because whenever a drought struck, an accursed storm of blood always followed.”
Bo-Young Kim, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 104


5 thoughts on “Day Zero Is Coming – Here Are Some Tips To Help You Prepare For It

  1. Fog nets should be implemented on top of table mountain. Some fog nets gather up to 100 gallons daily. Milk that cloud! The country of Chile uses fog nets and that has helped them in their struggle with drought.

  2. Wow for the first time I am actually glad to be a Vaalie and not in the Cape 🙁 it is a scary scary situation.
    One tip I have read that I am actually going to implement here (to save electricity) is use smaller towels. We have massive bath sheets which fill the washing machine just the two of them. If we use smaller towels after a shower we will do less washing 🙂 GOOD LUCK!

  3. This is great! Please, pleaes update your copy to encourage people to use BIODEGRADABLE wet wipes. All other ones are synthetic, don’t break down and poison ocean and earth. Cuddlers make an affordable biodegradable wet wipe and you can find them at Pick n Pay (but not all supermarkets). There’s also Pure Beginnings which smell heavenly but they’re a fair bit pricier. The most affordable I’ve found them is online, a fourpack, for R100.

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