Emergency Water Storage Tips
These are the categories I consider when deciding how much emergency water to store and how:
- Number of people you are storing water for.
- Number of gallons per person (drinking, cooking, personal hygiene) In my opinion, the bare minimum is 2 gallons per person per day. Some say one gallon is sufficient but one gallon will only give you 2 quarts to drink and then 2 quarts to cook with, brush your teeth, wash your body and wash your hands during the day.
- Number of days you want to prepare for—one week, one month, etc.
- Storage space for water containers: In determining what size containers you want, determine what size will fit in the storage area and if the containers need to be mobile or if they can stay in one place once you’ve filled them. Water is heavy so larger containers, 30 and 55 gallon, will be too heavy to move once filled. Five gallon containers can be moved to wherever you need them and can be stacked to reduce storage space requirements. Two-liter pop bottles are good for small spaces but it is possible for them to break down and develop leaks so you need to check them regularly.
- Accessories: siphon pump for larger containers that are standing upright, spigots for large containers that are lying on the side and for 5 gallon containers, water preserver.
Start with clean containers. Wash them out with soap and water and make sure to remove all soap residue. (Large containers are not as difficult as you might think to clean out. Put a dishtowel inside the barrel, add enough water to saturate the towel and extra so it can swoosh around easily and still make contact with the sides to scrub away dirt. Two people, one on each end of the large barrel can effectively swoosh the towel around by moving the barrel up and down and side to side and rolling it around. Then tip the barrel to let the towel land at the opening and pull it out. Rinse well with another towel and clean water. Rinse again.) Do not use empty milk containers because the protein residue cannot be totally washed off and bacteria could grow. Larger containers such as 55 gallon water barrels should not have been used for anything except water because of residue and odors. No glass because of the potential for breakage. If using 2-liter pop bottles, clean thoroughly.
Some advocate using bleach to keep the water safe from bacteria but I worry about that because of the correlation between chlorine and health problems. I prefer to use Oxy-Stabile which adds more oxygen to the water inhibiting bacterial growth. It will keep water safe for five years. Replace your water every 12 months if not using Oxy-Stabile or Aerobic 07.
Do not store in sunlight and store in a cool environment. If that’s impossible, then protect it the best you can from direct sunlight and if the water is going to freeze, then fill the container 90% full, leaving room for expansion.