Being as we are in the year 2012 and people all around the world are preparing for doomsday, the topic of how to store water long term is a very hot one.
Today we’ll be taking a look at this subject and I’ll share some tips with you that you can use to start storing water for any emergencies that might come up.
Water storage is one of those emergency preparedness items that is often overlooked because we have become so accustomed to being able to get water from any faucet whenever we need it. The reality that we are faced with is that during natural disasters, there is a very real possibility that you won’t be able to turn on a faucet and get water when you need it. Even if the water continues to flow, there is a good chance that it will be contaminated and unusable.
How Much Water Should You Store Per Person For Emergencies?
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), at the very least, every family should store a minimum of three days worth of drinking water for emergency situations. This means that you should store at least one gallon of water per day per person. Keep in mind that this recommendation is the very minimum amount of water that they suggest storing. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to store more water than the recommended amount.
I personally think that preppers should error on the side of caution and store much more water than three days worth. When it comes to storing water for emergencies, I’m of the opinion that more is always better! I think that many preppers would agree with me and it’s not uncommon for them to store hundreds, if not thousands of gallons in a large water cistern. Don’t forget that you’ll need water for your personal hygiene needs as well. Other uses for water that you might not think of are watering gardens and washing dishes to name just a couple.
Many emergency supplies are costly and it can be difficult to come up with enough money to buy them but water is cheap and easy to store so there really shouldn’t be any excuse for not storing plenty of it.
One thing that many people forget about storing water is that when it stops flowing, your pets will need to drink too. Be sure and store enough water to supply your pets and/or livestock with enough water to sustain them during an emergency.
How To Store Water At Home Properly
FEMA recommends that people stockpile commercially bottled water but there are other options. One way that they actually recommend for storing water is to store it in empty two liter plastic soft drink bottles. If your family drinks soda, buy it in two liter bottles instead of cans and each time you empty one you can clean it out and store water in it. Here are the recommended steps as provided from FEMA for treating and storing water in two liter soda bottles:
- Wash the empty bottle out with dish soap and thoroughly rinse it out. Don’t forget to wash and rinse the lid as well.
- Prepare a sanitizing solution by mixing one teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
- Pour the sanitizing solution in the bottle and shake it up really good and don’t forget to sanitize the lid.
- Rinse the sanitizing solution out of the bottle with clean water and don’t forget to rinse the lid.
- Fill the sanitized bottle with tap water that has been commercially treated with chlorine or well water that you have added two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to.
- Let the water sit for 30 minutes before using it.
- According to FEMA, the water should have a “slight chlorine odor” at this point. If it doesn’t, they recommend adding another dose of bleach and waiting for 15 minutes.
- Tighten the lid while using caution to prevent the lid from touching something that might contaminate it.
- With a permanent marker, write the date that you prepared the water.
How Long Can You Store Water?
One of the easiest ways to store water is to buy bottled water because when it is commercially bottled, special precautions are taken to prevent any contaminants from entering the water that might limit its shelf life. If you aren’t storing bottled water and you are filling your own containers for water storage, you should rotate your stored water supply every six months. This means that you should replace it with freshly treated water every six months.
2-25-2012 Update: One of my readers just pointed out that he didn’t understand how long the water could be stored once it has been treated and put up in empty two liter soda bottles. I used the word “rotate” when I originally wrote this article and I see now how it may appear that I meant you should physically rotate the full two liter bottles. I didn’t mean “rotate” in the context of grabbing the bottles and turning them. I meant that you should not store water that has not been commercially bottled for more than six months. According to FEMA, water that has been treated like this should be replaced every six months.
Why You Shouldn’t Store Water In Milk Jugs
Many years ago my husband’s mother learned a tough lesson by trying to store water in old milk jugs. Unfortunately, the plastic that is used to make milk jugs will deteriorate over time and break open. Jeff’s mom learned this lesson the hard way when her emergency water storage containers started breaking open and leaking water all over their storage room.
For this reason, I knew that it was a bad idea to store water in empty plastic milk jugs but while reading about storing water for emergency situations on the FEMA website, I learned that the milk proteins from the milk that was packaged in the jugs can’t be completely removed even if you thoroughly clean the jugs out. If you try to store water in them, the milk protein residue creates an environment that bacteria can grow in.
Where Should You Store Water?
For long term water storage FEMA recommends that you store it in a “cool dark location” to maximize its shelf life but let me give you a bit of added advice that could come in very handy. Never store water above storage items that might be ruined if the container happens to leak or break open.
Don’t Forget The Garden and Pets!
Many people forget to store water to use for watering their gardens. If you’ve spent countless hours tending to your vegetable garden, it would be a real shame to watch them all wilt away and die while you are waiting for your water to be turned back on. You can store water for your garden in 50 gallon plastic barrels as long as you have some way of getting the water out of the barrel. Make sure that you have a hand operated pump so that you can get the water out of the barrels and to your thirsty vegetables.
Remember that just as you’re likely to get thirsty, so will your pets. Be sure and store enough water for their needs as well.
Wait, Don’t Leave Me Yet!
If you were interested in this article, you might also like reading my article called, Why Having Water Storage May Be More Important Than Ever.