If you are just starting to prepare for a nuclear event, you are probably asking yourself the same question I asked when I started: Where do I start? The first think that concerned me, was radiation and fallout. As I researched these, I learned that what I needed was mass between the radioactive world outside and my fallout shelter - aka my basement. My basement is not the perfect fallout shelter (one of the long walls leads directly out to the open instead of being underground). So, without major modifications to the house, how would I get the mass I needed to protect my family? While doing more research, I found that you can use your supplies to shield you against radiation, and they are safe to use after a little time has passed.
I decided to keep a two week supply of water and food in the basement kitchen, and store the rest of my supplies along the exposed wall. Knowing how much to store required some calculating. I actually measured how much of each food I ate at a given meal. Knowing that I at x amount of a certain food, that I would be eating it y times each week for a year let me calculate how much to stock (I try to stock a few weeks extra in case there are circumstances that cause us to eat more). I also measured how much water I drank in both summer and winter, how much my dogs and cats drink in both summer and winter, how much water I use for cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and dishes.
I know, buying water and food can be expensive. The only way I can afford it is to buy an extra food item every time I am at the store. Maybe an extra box of instant potatoes, or a can of beans or vegies. I drink about a 2 liter bottle of soda a week, so I wash these out and store drinking and cooking water in them. I store them in plasic rubbermaid-like boxes that are stacked along the exposed wall. This makes storage easier, since I can stack them, and if one of the 2 liters leak, the water will be saved in the box and can be used for cleaning later.
Ideally, I need a year's supply of water, but that's a lot of 2 liters. For now, my goal is a 90 day supply. While I could use rain water a few months after a nuclear event, it would be a lot of trouble if I needed to use it for drinking or cooking. First, I would have to filter the water to take out particles, then boil it for 3-5 minutes (which uses a lot of fuel), then treat it with bleach or chemical tablets. This may seem like a long, unneeded process, but I would rather be safe than risk getting sick from improperly treated water. If I used this water for washing clothes, I would only need to filter out any particles.
I save the bottles my dish soap comes in and store water for washing dishes in them. It took some figuring, but a good soap to water ratio for me is 1 squirt of antibacterial soap for each 1/2 liter of water the bottle will hold. I also use rinsed out detergent bottles to store dish water. One thing to keep in mind: during a nuclear event there will be no refrigeration to store left overs. All food must be eaten, and all dishes must be promptly washed. This will keep the fallout shelter from smelling, and it will help keep incests and other vermin from wanting to enter your shelter. If you get into the habbit of washing all dishes immediately after each meal now, it won't seem like such a chore later. To limit the amount of water used for washing dishes in emergencies, buy a refillable squirt bottle to use to rise the soap off of dishes. Buy a small plastic tub - a wash tub- that will fit into your sink. You would need to wash and rinse dishes into this tub. Since the sewers may not be working right, the more water that goes down the drain means the chances of sewage backing into homes is higher. Unless there is danger of radiation outside, all used water should be pored outside. (Once a month I practice washing dishes just as I would during a nuclear event.)
Washing clothes with no electricity or running water can be a pain. It will not be practical to wash clothes after one day's wear. I have two 5-gallon bucket for washing clothes. I fill one about 1/3 full with water, add a little detergent or liquid antibacterial soap (not much since I will have to rinse it out), and repeatedly dunk one article of clothing until I think it is clean. I then dunk it several times into the other bucket that is half full of water. I continue this until my rinsing bucket is too full of soapy water to rinse the clothes out properly. I then use the water in the buckets (unless it is too dirty) to mop my basement floor and clean the walls or other surfaces that are dirty. If it won't bother your skin, you can use the "rinse" bucket to bathe with -just remember to rinse off with clean water.