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How to store water for emergency preparedness

Updated: Feb 1

How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness

What is your 72-hour game plan after an expected or unanticipated disaster? Does your 72-hour kit, 72-hour bag, survival vest, or bug out bag include sufficient water – or sources of water – for you and everyone with you, including pets?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is important to create and maintain a sufficient supply of clean drinking water in case your regular water source becomes contaminated and unavailable.


Water During Emergencies

Emergencies that can disrupt clean water sources include:

  • Water pollution

  • Broken pipes or pump malfunction

  • Failure of the community water system

  • Weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heatwave, lightning, and drought

  • Natural disasters including earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and floods

  • Construction damage

  • Wildfires

  • Outdoor adventure mishaps

With so many potential disasters, it is logical to have a clean water emergency supply. Many of us do not think of this until it is too late. Knowledge and preparation are essential to ensure an adequate amount of water in the event of an emergency. Following is important information and guidelines to help you get prepared.


What is the use of water in an emergency?

  • Water is essential to maintain good health and to sustain life. Clean water is also critical during and following an emergency to supply basic hygienic needs.

  • An average person can last three days without water. Just going one day without water causes dehydration, low energy, headaches, and dizziness. This will cause a loss of focus resulting in irrational decisions crucial for survival.

  • A person requires at least two quarts of water every day to replace the water lost through daily activities. Depending on the climate, medical needs, and age of the person, this need fluctuates. Preparing food requires water, as well.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Store a minimum of one gallon of water per person for at least three days.

  • Keep a two-week supply of water for adequate emergency preparedness.

  • A total of five gallons of stored water is required per person for two weeks.


How to store drinking water

  • Emergency water should be stored in a cool (50-70 degrees fahrenheit) dark, and dry place. This prevents bacterial growth, which can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep water stored away from direct sunlight, which can result in adverse health effects. It should also be stored away from cleaning supplies or other chemicals.

  • The best and recommended option is to purchase an emergency supply kit. They are intended to be easily accessible and are meant to be long-lasting. These contain water pouches that stay safe for up to five years. They usually include water purification tablets or water purifiers.

  • Purchase emergency water barrels made of non-toxic plastic. These large containers are difficult to move around and take up a lot of space but can store a lot of water.