Emergency Water Storage

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emergency water storage

The very first thing a new prepper could do, and probably should do is stock up on water for emergencies. Water is your most important need, next to oxygen, you can’t survive very long without it. In this article on emergency water storage, we’ll talk about how much water you should store and how you can store it. We’ll look at a few different storage methods and some safety tips so you’ll know how to store it correctly. Lets get to it…

How much water should you store?

When it comes to storing water for an emergency, the usual recommendation is 1 gallon per person per day. That’s the minimum recommended amount. You might be able to get by with that amount if you only drink a half a gallon of water per day and use the other half for cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

But, a half a gallon of water doesn’t really leave much to cook, clean, and bathe with. And if you are doing a lot of perspiring, you might need more to drink than just a half a gallon per day as well. If you have enough room to store it, 2 gallons per person per day would be even better.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends at least a 3 day supply of 1 gallon of water per person. Although a two week supply is preferable. I would recommend at least a two week supply per person at a minimum. If you have the room, you might even want to store a month supply per person.

I don’t think I’d bother storing more than a month supply. For me, I think a month supply gives me ample time to find other water sources to replace the water source that I lost. In most cases, your probably get back your main water source by that time anyway.

Emergency Water storage methods

There are several different ways to store water. Some methods are better than others. It really comes down to preference and how much money you want to spend. Lets take a look at our options:

IBC water tank

ibc water tank

Sometimes called tanks, sometimes called totes. They come in different sizes. A 275 gallon tote is a popular size. I would suggest shopping around online to find a better deal though because some of them are pretty expensive. I seen a 275 gallon caged tote at platic-mart.com the other day for $200. Just make sure it’s food grade plastic that is okay for storing water.

Water storage barrel

water storage barrel

Sometimes called barrels, sometimes called drums. They come in different sizes. A 55 gallon drum is a popular size, as well as a 30 gallon drum. Make sure it comes with a spigot or a pump to get the water out.

7 gallon water containers

7 gallon water storage container

Aqua-tainer makes a nice 7 gallon water container. It has a spigot attached to the inside of the cap which is good for storage – it will keep the spigot from getting dirty. And then when you’re ready to use the water, you can screw the spigot onto the outside of the cap so you can dispense the water.

5 gallon water containers

5 gallon water container

I don’t particular fancy this option, but you could go with 5 gallon containers like these if you wanted to.


water bricks storage containers

These water storage containers are pretty cool looking. As the name implies they are like bricks in shape and you can stack them on top of each other like bricks. They hold 3.5 gallons of water and each one has a carrying handle. They do not come with a spigot, but you can buy those separately. My only concern is that the lids ends up on the side of the containers when stacked, so that might increase the possibility of a leak.

Canned water

12 oz can of water

You can purchase 12 oz cans of water, as well as 22 oz cans of water.

22 oz can of water

The 22 oz cans of emergency water are kind of expensive, but they do have a 30+ year shelf-life.

Bottled water

bottled water

Some people stock up on bottled water. You can keep an eye out for when it goes on sale. If you already drink bottled water, this could be a good option because you can just rotate your supply. Buy distilled water – it’s pure and has no bacteria, contaminants, or minerals in it, so it will last longer.

Reuse 2 liter soda bottles

The least expensive storage method, is to save your 2 liter soda bottles and reuse them. If you don’t drink soda, you could ask someone who does to save you some bottles.

Reusing plastic bottles

Containers that held milk or juice are not the best options. It can be difficult to remove all of the milk protein or fruit sugar residue from the bottle, and bacteria can grow as a result. 2 liter soda bottles are safer. I wouldn’t use milk jugs at all because the plastic tends to degrade over time and their lids don’t have a good tight seal.

You can still reuse plastic bottles that had juice in them, but keep in mind that they could have bacteria growing in them. So either use the water for purposes other than for drinking, or if you are going to drink the water, distill or disinfect it first.

Make sure you wash the plastic bottles out first with soap and water before using. Then rinse them with a mild bleach solution to sanitize the bottles.

Storage tips

You want to store your water in a cool dry place away from sunlight or any heat sources. A good temperature would be between 50 and 70 degrees. You could store you water in a closet, or in the basement. If you have something like the waterbricks mentioned above, you could make a coffee table and/or end tables out of them.

Large amounts of water like a 55 gallon barrel can weigh a lot, so it’s best to store something like that on concrete, like in the basement. But, don’t set it directly on the concrete, set it on a piece of wood or a wooden pallet.

Plastic containers are slightly porous so it’s possible that chemicals could leach into your water supply. That’s why you don’t store your water directly on concrete. You should also store you water away from car exhaust, paint, gasoline, and other chemicals that could possibly leach into your water.

I don’t normally drink tap water, but that is what I use for emergency water. I can drink it for a short period of time during an emergency if I have to. If you use tap water, it already has enough chlorine in it that it will last for up to a year.

Personally, I try to replace the water every 6 months. You don’t have to waste any water, just use the old water to water your plants or give it to your pets. I have a water distiller, so I just distill the old water. You can rotate the use of your water like you do with stored can food.

If you’re not using tap water, which already has chlorine in it, it’s recommended that you treat the water that you’re going to store with a little bit of bleach. Just add an 1/8 of a teaspoon, or 4 – 5 drops of liquid unscented bleach for every gallon. Shake or stir and let it sit for 30 minutes. It should have a chlorine smell to the water. If it doesn’t add a little more bleach.

You might have noticed that a lot of water storage barrels and containers are blue. Apparently, the blue color limits light exposure and bacteria and algae from growing.

Hopefully you’ve found this article on emergency water storage helpful. Don’t let it all overwhelm you. Even a 3 day supply per person is better than nothing. Later you can work your way up to a 2 week supply. Just do whatever you can right now, and build up your supply slowly over time. And if you have pets, don’t forget to store some water for them too.

Whatever water you choose to store for drinking, make sure it’s safe to drink by the time you drink it. One of these survival water purification methods should help.