Tips and resources to get you started
Experts say that we can’t survive for more than three days without water. I can promise you, after one day you will be pretty cranky and doing just about anything to get some fresh water. You might even think about utilizing water that is questionably safe to drink.
In Hurricane Katrina, more than 1,000 drinking water systems and 172 sewage treatment plants were damaged, leaving 2.4 million people without access to safe drinking water. Initial testing found high levels of lead and e. coli bacteria present in the water. (source)
It doesn’t have to be that way for you. You can have a water storage plan that works for you.
What are the minimum daily water requirements?
To determine your water needs, take the following recommendations from Ready.gov into account:
- // One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation. (this is the absolute minimum)
- // Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
- // A medical emergency might require additional water.
- // If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
- // If your food storage plan includes a lot of dehydrated and freeze dried foods you may require more water for processing.
- // Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.
Storing water for sanitation needs
According to the USGS, on average each person in the United States uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day. Are you surprised that the largest use of household water is to flush the toilet, and after that, to take showers and baths? That is why, in these days of water conservation, we are starting to see toilets and showers that use less water than before. (source)
Given that 80 gallons is a bit unrealistic for household storage, you might want to allow 4 gallons per person, per day. This will take care of your personal hygiene needs like bathing, washing dishes and washing clothes.
You will need 5 to 12 gallons of water per day to use for a conventional toilet. Luckily this water does not have to be drinking quality. Many people store non-potable water just for this purpose. Swimming pools, spas and rain barrels are just a few of the options.
Several years ago we had a severe winter storm in Oregon. Snow and ice stuck around for a lot longer than normal and some good friends of ours, who lived in the country, had their pipes freeze solid. There was nothing they could do until the thaw. That meant no drinking water and hence – no flushing toilets. It lasted 2 weeks.
They had actually stored enough water to use for flushing purposes by using this simple trick. Every time a milk jug was emptied, they would wash it and fill it with water. This was stored out of the sunlight in their barn and it completely saved them from having to purchase water for flushing.
NOTE: It is not recommended to refill milk jugs for drinking water use. They will break down too quickly to be of long term use and they are hard to sanitize. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them.
Preparing new containers for storing drinking water
It is recommended you purchase food grade water storage containers to use for water storage. You can find these at any sporting goods store, surplus store or at Amazon. We have one of these ridgid 5 gallon containers (Amazon) for each family member. They are stackable and 5 gallons is not too heavy for me to move.
We also have several 5-Gallon collapsible bladders (Amazon) to fill if we need to. They are very easy to store.
Before filling new containers with water, thoroughly clean them with dishwashing soap and water and then rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, winter storms or other disasters that have a “warning” time, you might want to consider a big 100 gallon bladder for the bath tub. (Amazon) These are for one time only use but will allow you to store a large amount of water if you have the lead time to fill it.
Preparing repurposed containers for water storage
This cleaning process is important if you repurpose your own storage containers too. Choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids.
To get a repurposed container ready for storage you must first disinfect it by following these procedures:
- // Thoroughly clean them with dishwashing soap and water then rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
- // Further sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle and roll it around so that it touches all surfaces.
- // After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
- // Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean.
- // If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.
- // A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water, if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.
- // Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in cool, dark place.
Get Serious About Water Storage
Now that you have a handle on how much to store and what to store it in, get busy and put some water aside in your home! These posts, from me and others, will help you get your individual plan together.
What about you – What keeps you from getting serious about water storage? Share your favorite ideas to store water in the comments below. You can get prepared for National Preparedness Month #NatlPrep