Water is one of the essential elements of life. Without water, there is no survival. Ensuring you and your family have access to clean, drinkable water in the case of emergency or disaster should be at the top of your survival planning list. There are many ways to ensure access to clean drinking water in an emergency, one being long-term water storage. The most ideal situations for emergency long-term water storage are when you are planning on bugging-in or sheltering in-place and need to stock up or when trying to decide what supplies are needed for the bug-out location you’ll be evacuating to.
In this article, we’ll discuss the basics for storing water long-term and examine the three options for long-term water storage.
Survival Water Storage Basics
In a crisis situation, having access to clean, drinkable water – and enough of it for your entire bug-out crew – will be key to surviving. Whether you plan on bugging-out or sheltering in-place, here are the key fundamentals you will need to know to ensure you’re storing water properly for the long-term and will have enough to last you through the crisis.
How Much Water To Store
According to the U.S. government, the ideal amount of water to have stored is one gallon per person, per day, for at least three days. The average person needs ¾ gallons of fluids for drinking each day and up to ¼ gallons for hygiene and sanitary purposes. If you’re located in a hot environment or have children, nursing mothers, or people that are ill in your bug-out crew, you will need to store more water. Following those guidelines, a family of four would need to store twelve gallons of water to ensure survival over three days. If you consider the amount you would need for any amount of time beyond that, you can see how quickly your water needs can add up.
Ultimately, the decision of how many days worth of water you decide to store for survival will be based on the type of emergency you are planning for. For instance, long-term water storage for an emergency expected to last a few days is quite simple, whereas planning for an extended period or stockpiling for a large group can get quite complicated. Before beginning to prepare your long-term water supply, take some time to consider how much you will need, for how many people, and for how long before getting started.
The best place to keep your emergency water is in a cool, dry place. Basements are a great choice, although it is prudent to split your supplies up in different areas of your home in case one area becomes flooded, damaged, or otherwise unaccessible. A good practice is to ensure there is water stored in every closet of your home, or at least in one closet on each floor.
As long as the containers have been properly sanitized, water that has not been commercially bottled should be safe to drink for up to six months. Commercially bottled water will typically have a ‘use by date’ printed on the bottle that will provide guidance on how long it will be safe to drink.
When choosing containers, avoid any plastic containers that are not safe for food or anything that contains BPA. Containers that have had fruit juice or milk in them should be avoided as fruit sugars and milk proteins can’t be fully cleaned out and create an ideal environment for bacteria growth when used for water storage. Plastic is a much preferable choice to glass as glass is heavy and can break. Water is also very heavy, make sure to use proper lifting technique, such as lifting at the knees, when transporting it.
If you’re ever in doubt about the safety of your water, boil and treat it with purification tablets (such as these) before drinking. Each year, waterborne pathogens kill approximately 3.4 million people, better to be sure and stay alive!
There are three options for proper long-term storage of water: buy pre-bottled water; collect and sterilize containers and fill them up; buy purpose-made containers and fill them up.
Purchasing cases of bottled water is by far the easiest solution for building an emergency water supply, but also one of the most expensive. However, when employing this option, money can be saved by buying large, water-cooler sized jugs (although these can be quite heavy to carry around).
In terms of purchase options, they’re abundant. You can buy cases of bottled water at almost any local grocery store, Costco, or even HERE on Amazon. While simply purchasing bottled water is the easiest option, it’s also the most expensive and takes up the most space. If you need to buy a large supply, you’ll need to buy shelving to properly store your emergency water. If you stack bottled water too high, the lower cases can get crushed.
For this long-term water storage solution, you will need to collect plastic bottles, such as those used for soda. You will need to sanitize the bottles and fill them on your own, so this is the most time consuming of all the options, but also the most cost-effective. If you have some extra time and need to save money, this is the best option. Review the following instructions for properly sanitizing and filling your own long-term water storage containers:
1. Clean out your containers using soapy water, ensuring they are well-rinsed and all soap is removed.
2. Add one teaspoon of unscented household chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
3. Pour the solution into your containers and shake the bottles until the solution has touched all surfaces (make sure the cap is on while you’re doing this so that it gets sanitized as well).
4. Rinse out the sanitizing solution.
5. Fill your containers with tap water (only if the tap water has been commercially treated, such as a city’s water supply).
6. If you’re using non-treated or well water, add two drops of unscented household chlorine bleach to the water and let it stand 30 minutes before drinking.
7. Screw the caps tightly on your containers, being careful not to contaminate the insides with your fingers when closing.
8. Your emergency water storage containers should be able to store water for at least six months after being treated this way.
For someone needing a large volume of water and not wanting to deal with the hassles of sanitizing or storing dozens (maybe hundreds) of soda bottles, this is the ideal option. The happy compromise is the best option for storage with the least hassle. It involves buying purpose-made, food safe, water storage containers (check out the Water Brick, our personal favorite) and filling them with water yourself. While this option costs a bit more than the DIY solution, it costs much less than buying water bottles from the store.
The Water Brick is our preferred option for the following reasons:
● Holds 3.5 gallons, which is a large volume but not so much as to make them too heavy to carry
● There is a handle which makes them easy to carry
● Water Bricks are stackable and take up as little space as possible, making shelving unnecessary
● There is a large opening, making them much easier to clean than soda bottles
● The large opening also makes these containers viable for storing dry food, documents, or even ammo (try doing that with a soda bottle!)
● They are food grade and BPA-free
The time-saving features of this option come from the ease and speed of the sanitization process. Basically, you will purchase the appropriate amount of containers (Water Brick or otherwise), sanitize as above, fill them up, and forget about them! To illustrate the convenience of the sanitization process, consider that it would take seven standard two liter soda bottles to make up the same quantity as one Water Brick. Which process do you think is faster?
To learn more about Water Bricks and to get your own, CLICK HERE NOW.
To make the process even easier on yourself or to avoid handling bleach, simply purchase water purification tablets or drops (such as these). However, the container will still need to be properly sanitized.
If you’d like to learn more about preparing your long-term water supply for an emergency or disaster, check out these helpful resources:
Having access to clean, drinkable water (and lots of it) is something many of us living in first world countries take for granted. But in a crisis or emergency situation, finding safe drinking water will become a priority for everyone. When water stops running and stores sell out of water bottles, having a prepared supply of water on-hand at your bug-out or bug-in location will be an invaluable asset.
Whether you choose to buy your water ready-bottled or bottle your own, always remember that the most important factor is to ensure you have enough. Think carefully through how many people will potentially need to access the water (including pets, if applicable) and how long your supply will need to last. A little planning and forethought ahead of time can save much aggravation, and maybe even lives, down the line and ensure you have an effective long-term water storage solution.
Do you have a water storage solution that you like, or know of an innovative way to purify your water supply? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!