Water Storage

Water Storage

How much drinking water do you need and what is the best way to store it?



During and after an emergency or disaster, having clean drinking water is the most important item to have yet it is often the most difficult item to come by. Your local utilities might no longer function or provide contaminated water and even if you can reach local stores, their supplies will very likely be gone very quickly.

It is therefore extremely important to have a supply of water available and recommendations for humans are:
  • 1 gallon per person per day as the minimum short term supply
  • 2 to 3 gallons for long term to include special needs and washing

  • And if you own pets, please do not forget to plan for them as well. Pets do not understand the need to ration and if you do not supply enough water to them, they might try to wander off, possibly finding and drinking questionable water elsewhere. On average, for cats and dogs and depending on pet size, plan 2 to 6 cups per pet per day.

    How can water be stored and what type of containers should I use?
    We recommend to store water in 3 different categories:
    Category 1;
    Drinking Water for Short Term Storage:
    This is drinking water that is purchased in local stores and is rotated through daily use for drinking and cooking. You can store several trays with smaller portion sized bottles or use the larger 3 to 5 gallon bottles from a delivery service or filled at your local water store. Factory sealed bottles can usually be kept for approximately 9 months, but check the dates on the bottles for your own safety. For self-filled bottles such as 3 to 5 gallon jugs from the local water store, replace the water every 6 months to ensure drinkability without the need to boil the water first.

    Category 2;
    Drinking Water for Long Term Storage:
    This is drinking water that is not used on a daily basis, but set aside for use in an emergency situation;
    To initially satisfy the needs of the US military for long term storage of safe drinking water, purified drinking water with a 5 year shelf life was developed and has since been made available to the public through distributors like us. This 5 year shelf life water is US Coast Guard approved and comes in convenient pouches which makes it ideal to ration or take on trips in smaller amounts. The water is sealed in air tight pouches that can not be penetrated by sun light, preventing bacteria growth inside and thus guaranteeing the 5 years of shelf life. The 5 year shelf life water is available by clicking here: Emergency Drinking Water

    Category 3;
    Drinking Water for washing, rinsing or use after boiling:
    This is water that is set aside for use in an emergency situation but does not include drinking without receiving prior treatment first.
    Bottled water that is stored past the recommended shelf life does not have to be drained and wasted. If you have the ability to boil the water, you can still make it safe to drink, provided that the containers were properly stored, remained sealed and no substantial bacteria contamination occurred. Find out more here: boil water.
    If you can not boil the water to make it safe for drinking then it can still be used for washing, showering, rinsing and other sanitary purposes.

    Container selection:
    Glass Containers can break and are rather heavy compared to plastic, but they offer excellent penetration protection against vapors and gases that could leak through plastic containers for example.
    Plastic Containers are lightweight and significantly more resistant to breaking compared to glass. However plastic materials vary and if containers are used for food and water storage, only containers made from FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved materials should be selected. Plastic containers made from non food-grade materials may leach (bleed) chemicals from their surface that can contaminate the food and products stored inside. These chemicals leak as vapors over time and are not readily detectable through smell, touch or visually. See our Storage Containers here: Food Grade Containers

    Methods of drinking water storage:
    Water in factory sealed clear plastic bottles should be stored at room temperature and shall not be opened until the time of consumption. It is furthermore important to store these type of clear bottles short term away from direct sunlight and long term away from indirect sunlight to prevent bacteria growth inside the bottles.
    Water in our factory sealed pouches with a 5 year shelf life however can be stored under extreme conditions with a temperature range from -40F to +230F. The pouches can not be penetrated by sun light either, which prevents the growth of bacteria inside.
    Water in large drums such as 30 to 55 gallon size containers should be stored in a clean location, preferably indoors, and without exposure to extreme temperature changes or direct sunlight. Also keep in mind that you will need to drain your barrel or drum if you live in an area where temperatures could drop below freezing to prevent the drums from bursting due to ice expansion.

    Water Storage Location Selection:
    Emergency supplies should be stored in one or several locations that are safe for you to access during and after an emergency. For storage locations, follow this link: Storage Locations

    Drinking Water Safety
    1. Tap water from the faucet:
    During normal times, tap water as supplied by your local municipality is usually safe to drink (check with your local water service utility provider for details such as a water quality report, etc.). However during various type emergency events that tap water can become contaminated, rendering it unsafe to consume without treatment or sometimes even with treatment. Obvious signs of potentially unsafe drinking water are discoloring such as brown water, foreign substances in the water, very low water pressure that could indicate a line breakage which in turn could cause 'backflow' of contaminated water into the system. Listing all the types of possibilities of how and why water could become unsafe to drink is not viable here and we therefore suggest you pay close attention to local media to get alerted if there are changes in the quality of your drinking water.

    2. Bottled water:
    While bottled water that is purchased at local retail stores or brought to your home through delivery services is generally safe to drink for as long as the seal remains intact and it has not reached the expiration date, water that has been bottled by yourself might require treatment once it has been stored for some time. The reason for the requirement to treat is that during the filling process the water came in direct contact with air which is a natural carrier for airborne bacteria. This bacteria has been mixed in with the water during the filling process and remains in the bottle. Exposure to sunlight (direct or indirect) and temperature will allow for growth of the bacteria. While the growth ratio might be very slow, given several months of time, it could lead to unsafe drinking water.

    The most common and easiest way to treat water is by boiling it. Find out more here: boil water