Water is the backbone of life. Often taken for granted in the First World, even the slightest natural or man-made disaster could cut off a water supply to even those most civilized of regions. Therefore, it is imperative to have an emergency plan in place that includes some type of emergency water storage.
In this guide on emergency water storage, we are going to explore all you need to know in order to be properly hydrated in case disaster were to strike. It may be a tough scenario to fathom, but there could be a situation where access to water may be unavailable for a period time. But, what disasters or scenarios could extinguish or contaminate the water supply? Let's find out more.
What Is the Best Way to Store Water?
Experts recommend the purchase of food-grade water storage containers for your emergency water storage needs. There are pricier home kits than can hold up to 55 gallons of water. But for those on a budget or those with a small house or apartment, there are other methods of maintaining emergency water storage. Buying extra bottled water at the supermarket is one way to be prepared. For example a 35-pack of bottled water adds up to a total of 4.6 gallons of water. That is enough water to sustain one person for four days. A cheaper option is to store faucet water in empty containers or jugs.
Back-Up Water Solutions
In addition to having a tangible emergency water supply, it's important to have ways to purify water in case it needs to be gathered from nearby water sources such rivers, lakes and streams. Drinking untreated water directly from these sources can be a dangerous proposition. Here are three ways to purify unsafe water:
- Water filters
- Purification tablets
- Fuel and stove to boil water
Is There a Need for Emergency Water Storage?
You may think it could never happen to you, but natural disasters occur on a regular basis across the globe. In the United States alone, there are regularly tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and earthquakes. Natural disasters such as these can knock out the water supply for days or even weeks. In the event of a city water supply contamination, water could become toxic and harmful to drink. Broken or burst pipes can cut off access to water from your home. If you combine all these factors, it should become clear that having some sort of emergency water storage can apply to any household in the world.
How Much Water?
The Center for Disease Control, or the CDC, recommends that each person has at least three gallons of emergency water storage. This is enough for each person to consume one gallon of water for a period of three days. Keep in mind that this is just the recommendation for hydration. When you factor in brushing your teeth, flushing the toilet, washing your hands, laundry and cooking, it becomes comes clear that you will need over three gallons for each member of the family.
Experts recommend storing at least 14 gallons of water per each person. This gives you a bare minimum two-week storage or a robust one-week emergency water storage. Also, don't forget to factor in water for your pets.
Emergency Water Storage Tips: Everything You Need to Know
Stored Water May Taste Funny
Water that has been in storage for a while may taste flat or "funny". This is not due to contamination, but rather the result of a lack of oxygen in the storage containers. The water is still perfectly safe to drink. To get rid of the flat taste swirl the liquid in your cup a few times before drinking it. Swirling the water allows it to gather more oxygen, which in turn enhances the taste.
Keep Water Storage on Pallets
If you are storing your water in 55-gallon storage barrels, you will most likely run into recommendations on the Internet which advise you to keep the barrels on wooden pallets instead of directly on the cement floor. The reasoning behind this is that the cement may contain toxic chemicals which may seep into the plastic storage barrels. This toxic reaction could contaminate your emergency water storage. Scientifically, there is no real proof to back up this claim unless the cement floor were to get really hot. But people with 55-gallon barrels should go ahead on store them on wooden pallets just to be safe.
Do I Need to Use Chlorine?
If you are using tap water from your city to fill your emergency water storage, there is no need to treat this water with chlorine. The city has already done this for you. If you are obtaining your water from an untreated source, however, it should be treated with the proper amount of chlorine. Untreated water from lakes, rivers or streams could contain dangerous microbes that can lead to sickness or even death. The proper equation to treat the water is to add one-eighth teaspoon of chlorine per one gallon of water.
Another option is to purchase water-treatment drops. There will be instructions on the label on how to properly use the product.
How Often Do I Rotate?
It is recommended to switch out your water storage once per year. This fact isn't as open-and-shut as it may seem, however. Technically, water does not have an expiration date. If water is properly stored, it will never spoil. What spoils the water is what gets into it. Taking the proper precautions to properly store your water can keep contaminants like bacteria out of your water. If you are worried about contamination, however, go ahead and feel free to rotate your emergency water storage once per year.
Can I Use My Pool?
The simple answer is yes, you can. The average swimming pool contains about 20,000 gallons of potential emergency water storage. The chlorine treatment used in pools is actually not harmful to drink at all. The major downfall of using your pool for emergency water storage is time. In about a week's time, the pool's filter will have been out of commission long enough for the water to become stagnant and will allow microscopic toxic agents to grow. Also, the chlorine will eventually run out and you will not have any way to clean the water.
Just to be safe, pool water of any sort should always be boiled before consumption. If you have a saltwater pool, it is not recommended to drink from it. Too much salt in your system could lead to dehydration.
How to Use Your Water during an Emergency
If your water supply begins to run low, DO NOT ration the water. Drink the proper amounts and go look for more the next day. Minimize the amount of water consumed by staying cool and reducing activity. If your storage runs low, you can also find an additional 20-30 gallons of water in your hot water heater. Only drink from this water if public water is still safe.
You can also use the water from the toilet reservoir (not the bowl) as long as the water is properly treated with bleach. Canned vegetables and fruits can also provide water for hydration.
Other General Emergency Water Storage Tips
- Do not use milk jugs or refrigerated jugs to store water in
- If using a container that previously held another liquid, clean the container well before storing water in it
- Clearly label your emergency water storage "for drinking only" vs "for cleaning only"
- Keep all water stored away from gasoline, kerosene, pesticides and other toxic substances
- If you want to be sure water is safe before drinking it, you can store a water test kit
Having enough water during an emergency is one of the most important things to consider when prepping an emergency plan. Water is vital to survival as humans cannot go for very long without it. There are a number of options available for storing water. Some are more expensive and elaborate than others. What is most important is to properly store the water you have. Contaminated water will end up doing more harm than good.
Even though millions of dollars have been invested in our country's infrastructure, a natural or man-made disaster can leave your water access limited very quickly. Some of these disasters occur with little to no advanced warning.
It's up to us to be properly prepared, and not rely on the authorities for help. In the event of a disaster, these emergency services will be busy dealing with the rest of the population that was not properly prepared. Having a solid emergency water storage system in place before an emergency gives you a major advantage over those who are hoping to be helped. The answers are out there. It is up to you to take the next steps. You may think it can never happen to you. And who knows, you may never need to use your emergency water storage. But, it's always better to be safe than sorry.