Emergency Preparedness

Storing Water for Emergencies

You and your family can survive for several days without food, but only a short time without water. When a disaster occurs and you cannot be sure about the safety of your drinking water, it is good to be prepared.

How much do you need to store? Store approximately six gallons of water per person for a week’s emergency supply. This should be adequate for drinking and cooking.

Any food-grade plastic or glass containers are suitable for storing water when cleaned. Food-grade containers are any store-bought containers which have previously held food or beverages. Wash the container with hot soapy water. Rinse the container well with plain water. Sanitize the container by rinsing it with a solution of ½ teaspoon chlorine per pint of water. Rinse with clean water again. If using plastic milk jugs, be sure to clean and sanitize the inside handle area.

Do not use empty bleach bottles. They are not food-grade containers and children may not be able to understand why they can drink water from the ones you prepared and not from the normal bleach bottle. Don’t take chances by using containers from non-food items.

It is not necessary to treat your water before storage if it comes from a safe water supply. All public water supplies are already treated and should be free of harmful bacteria. If stored properly, this water should have an indefinite shelf life. But you may want to replace this water for fresh every 6-12 months.

Water that might be contaminated with harmful germs should be boiled 10 minutes before storage. Water from farm ponds and well water should be purified and treated before storage. Follow the directions for the purification tablets.

Clearly mark all containers with "drinking water" and the current date. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.


Bottled Water

Meg McAlpine
Contributing Editor