Water Storage Options In most emergency situations, fresh drinking water is the most important item you can store. It is recommended to have both portable and stationary emergency water storage. Portable water containers should be light enough to carry during an emergency. Be sure to take into consideration that water weighs 8 lbs per gallon. Preparedness authorities recommend storing at least 14 gallons of water per person. This would mean a family of 4 would want to store approximately 56 gallons of water (remember to store both stationary and portable). There are many types of containers and options available for storing water for long term. Water Storage Containers Heavy-duty, thick, polyethylene food grade plastic barrels are great for water storage. These barrels are normally blue (color is important, blue means water is being stored, red would mean fuel or flammable liquid is being stored, and colors other than blue may not be food grade plastic) and normally come in sizes that range from 15 to 55 gallons. It is recommended to store these barrels in a dark and cool area, such as a basement or food storage room. Storing your barrel outside could have an effect on the life of the barrel. It is not recommended to store any water container in direct or indirect sunlight. Also, it is best to store water barrels with a non-pourous insulation barrier (such as wood) between the cement and the barrel. It is not recommended to store a barrel outside, but if you have to, it is recommended to take certain necessary precautions. Cover it as much as possible to prevent exposure to light, ensure cleanliness and for insulation purposes. During the winter you have to take into account the freezing factor. When water freezes it expands. If there is not enough room at the top of your barrel, it can cause your barrel to become disfigured or may even crack. It is recommended to only fill the barrel 9/10 the way full if you plan on storing it in a place where there is a potential of freezing. One of the best water storage options is the metallized plastic bag in a boxed water kit. The metallized bag is filled with water and then placed in a cardboard box. The water is kept from light, limiting any bacteria or algae growth. These kits are great because they offer an easy to use and versatile portable water system. The boxes can double as a sanitation kit (emergency toilet) and a carrying case for transporting water. A smaller version of the metallized water bag system is the water pouch of purified drinking water. Each pouch contains approximately four to eight ounces of water that can be stored for more than five years. This would be an alternative to heavier containers as a minimum ration for small children, but it would not be a viable water source in place of larger containers. Two-liter pop or juice bottles are also a good option for inexpensive water storage. Be sure to clean them well and store in a cool and dark area. Light and warmth will promote algae and bacteria growth. Over time these water containers can breakdown and leak. It is recommended to not store them next to food or other items that can be damaged by water. Heavy containers should always be stored close to ground level and secured to prevent breakage or possible injury in the event of any earthquake or natural disaster. Be sure to store these water containers away from any harmful chemicals. It is not recommended to use milk jugs. These jugs are biodegradable and can break down within a short period of time. Tips and Suggestions
  • Water can be found during an emergency from several different places around the house including the water heater, ice cubes in freezer, and as a last resort, the reservoir tank in your toilet (not the bowl).
  • Treat water with bleach before you use your water during an emergency. It is recommended to use 4 drops of bleach per quart of water.
  • Rotate your water once a year for freshness. Some people choose April or October as times to rotate, but remember the following statement: “If your water is free of bacteria and if you keep it in clean, tightly closed containers away from sunlight, it will remain safe indefinitely.”(Ensign October 1991, p. 71)
  • Water containers can be stored in many different places such as closets, underneath beds, etc.Hot tubs and swimming pools are possible water sources, although extreme precaution and education is recommended before using this option.
  • Glass containers are not recommended for water store because they can easily break during an emergency
  • If space and money is a concern, start small and gradually build your water storage as you build your food storage.
We hope this information has been helpful. More information is available in our other water articles. Your local authorities may also have some useful tips and suggestions. Another important resource is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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