How To Safely Store Drinking Water for Emergency Use

When a disaster or emergency strikes, one of the first things that people tend to worry about is where to get safe drinking water. You can live without food for a week but water is the source of life. This is why, even before a disaster hits you and your family, you should be prepared with enough safe drinking water to last you for a few days. Continue reading to find out how to safely store drinking water for emergency use.

  • Store water good for three days. Both the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross recommend keeping a supply of safe drinking water that will last the whole family for at least three days. This is the bare minimum. These agencies estimated that one person can consume a gallon of water each day. If you are a family of five, you will need five gallons each day. For three days that’s 15 gallons of safe drinking water. If possible, you should store more. Remember that if you live where the temperatures are high, you should also allocate more that a gallon for each person.
  • Purchase gallon containers with tight caps. Find food grade gallon containers. If local stores do not sell them, check for other sources online. Some gallon containers can fit three to five gallons of liquid. You can also use big soda bottles. Just make sure to wash the containers well before filling them with water. Never use glass containers that may break. Avoid milk containers that tend to crack or become brittle as they get older. Juice bottles are not good to use, too. Juice contains proteins and sugars that promote the growth of bacteria. Bacteria growing in the containers are a health risk when consumed.
  • Wash the containers well. A mixture of hot water and regular liquid dish soap should be used in cleaning the containers. Sanitize the containers by adding one teaspoon of liquid bleach (unscented variety) to the washing solution. Cover the container and shake the contents well. Remove the cap and rinse the container and the cap properly with clean running water.
  • Fill the containers with safe drinking water. Find out if the water from your tap is chlorine treated. This should be safe for human consumption. Fill the container to the brim and seal the cap tightly. In case the only available water is from an untreated source or a well, you can place two drops of the same type of liquid bleach you used earlier into the water. If you live in a very cold location and the stored water may freeze, leave some space for expansion. Water expands as it changes from liquid to solid.
  • Store the water containers properly. Find a place in your home away from the sun’s rays. The area should be cool and dark. If the water containers are kept under warm conditions, you may be looking at bacteria and algae formation which is harmful to the body when ingested.
  • Change the water after six months. When six months has passed since you prepared your containers of safe drinking water, then it is time to change them. Don’t simply throw away the water. No sense wasting this precious liquid. Instead use them for your garden or backyard.

Storing safe drinking water may seem tedious and unnecessary. Unfortunately, this is not so. Don’t wait till the next disaster to learn the lesson that storing safe drinking water is essential in any emergency situation.


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