Gallons of Flotation

As an empty one gallon milk jug looms before me, I am reminded that a one gallon container is worth roughly 8 pounds of flotation. More precisely, 7.7 pounds. This becomes significant when you need to build a raft with salvaged containers in the aftermath of flooding or for emergency travel by waterways. Of course, it’s ideal to use sealed containers. When using a gallon jug, a screw-on lid works best, but duct tape can be used to help secure any “iffy” lids or caps. Other containers might include gas cans, 50 gallon drums, water bottles, etc.. You’ll need to decide whether you want to ride above water level to stay dry, or whether adding just enough buoyancy for you to sit in the water and ride the flotation device is adequate. Consider collecting the containers in a net or tarp, or, you can tie them together which could take significant cordage. Staying topside also suggests the need for a framework to place on top of the floating material. In any case, don’t forget paddles for propulsion or steering, although paddling with your arms and legs will work. Don’t forget to include the combined weight of other passengers, equipment and framework when calculating the necessary buoyancy.

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