When a winter storm is common for your area, it’s important to know how to store water in an emergency without just filling up your bathtub for the days ahead. Before storing your water, you’ll need to know a few particulars so you can choose the right storage solutions for you and your family.
How Much Water Do You Need?
First, the generally accepted best practice is every person in your party needs one gallon of water a day for drinking and hygiene. Second, FEMA suggests you have three days worth of water for you and your family in the event your normal water sources are disrupted.
However, anyone watching the news knows that sometimes disaster relief doesn’t make within three days or even a week. Most survival minded citizens should have at least two weeks of water on hand for themselves and their families. With that math, a typical family of four needs 56 gallons of water. If you live in a hot area or have pregnant individuals, you may want to add a few gallons to be safe.
Storage: Two-Week Supply or Less
What are your options for storing your two-week supply of water?
- Bottled Water: This is a more expensive option, but you can count on excellent sealing and packaging. Plus, the bottles will be easy to ration and take with you on the go.
- Large Water Jugs: If you coach little league or are a frequent camper, you probably have a large water jug lying around, so take advantage.
- Used Bottles: Collect/gather your empty water, soda and sports drink bottles and fill them up with water. The plastic is definitely food safe and you’ll save on storage costs.
Storage: A Month’s Supply of More
If you have a large family or you just want to be extra prepared, you’ll need larger containers for your water. Try these solutions:
- Water Barrels: These 55 gallon barrels will set you back around $90, they are heavy and they need a special pump for easy use. However if you have the space, they are a perfect long-term solution.
- Rain Barrels: Put one of these barrels under your gutter and collect free water from the skies. Make sure you filter and sanitize the water before drinking though.
- Water Cistern: These systems hold between 1,400 and 12,000 gallons of water. This system is a bit complicated, but it’ll store water for ages.
Water Storage Extras
Just in case something happens with your storage system, you might want these items on hand:
- Water Filter: This helps you filter rainwater and water from a number of sources. Some can filter a gallon per minute. Don’t forget batteries!
- Purification Tablets: These tabs have sodium chlorite and iodine to help you purify water.
- Stove and Fuel: When all else fails, boil your water to make sure it’s safe for consumption.
Maintenance and Purification
Water doesn’t go stale like food, but you still need to maintain your water storage system to minimize any health risks:
- Change your water annually.
- Use food safe containers that haven’t been exposed to non-food items and/or harsh cleaning chemicals.
- Tap water doesn’t need to be treated (usually) because it was treated before reaching your faucet.
- Stored water can taste flat, but unless you have reason to suspect contamination, the taste doesn’t indicate an issue.
- If you suspect contamination, boil/filter your water to be safe.
- Recently cleaned and treated pool water can be used in an emergency, but the stagnant water will go bad quickly without normal maintenance. Find another water source as soon as possible.
- In an emergency, you can store water in your bathtub, but if the tub hasn’t recently been cleaned, you risk contamination. Even clean tubs can be an issue due to harsh cleaning chemical used.
Whether you want to be prepared for the next winter storm or a sudden apocalypse, you have the information you need to get started on your water supply. Remember to use food-safe plastics and storage containers!