Storing water along with having the knowledge and capability to purify your stored water should be your top priorities in putting together your long term food storage plan. Although most humans can last 3-4 weeks without eating food, they will die in just 3-4 days without access to clean water. It’s easy to take water and its many uses for granted when it’s readily available, so if you’re not sure why you should be storing water and learning how to purify it, check out our Why Store Water article first.
According to the U.N., the average American uses approximately 105 gallons of water daily. It may sound like an unbelievably high estimate, but when you stop to think about the convenience of running water for its many uses such as drinking, baths/showers,lawns & gardens, pets, etc.; it makes sense. Based off the large daily amount of water consumed, it’s clear to see that for 99% of the U.S., it’s unrealistic to store up enough water to cover much more than a few weeks at best. Just to store enough water for a household of 2 adults under normal levels of consumption for month would require several thousand gallons of water.
As we mentioned before, having the capability to store thousands (or even hundreds) of gallons of water is simply unrealistic for most people. Yet, it’s essential to have some water on hand to anticipate the unexpected. It only takes one catastrophic event to truly appreciate how much water is taken for granted. There’s a few steps of planning you’ll want to tackle before you take any action of storing away water. First, decide how many individuals (including pets if relevant) you’ll be storing water for. Once that figure is determined, try and store away three days worth of water for each covered individual. In a true emergency hopefully you won’t be using your stored water for unnecessary uses such as extended baths/showers or watering your lawn so plan on storing between 5-6 gallons of water per person, per day. These 5-6 gallons will cover drinking water as well as extra water for cooking, cleaning, and hygienic uses. Assuming once again there are two adults, it will require 30 gallons of stored water to cover three full days.
Methods of Water Storage
There are several options for how to actually store the water. First, let’s start with common mistakes that many people new to water or food storage make – storing cases of water bottles or 1 gallon jugs. Besides the common problem of BPA and other toxins found in plastic water bottles and jugs, they simply aren’t designed for long term storage or use. In many instances, 1 gallon jugs are only designed to last about 12 months. After that, they’ll begin to break down rendering them ineffective for storage purposes. Cases of water bottles or jugs are bulky and are difficult to store in bulk. If you do choose to store some water bottles or jugs, ensure they are composed of a food grade plastic quality. Also, be sure to observe the expiration date on the plastic to rotate them out of your water storage. Take care not to stack your cases more than 3 high to avoid the cases on the bottom slowly being crushed over time.
For homeowners or those who have a bit of extra space such as a garage or yard, a far more efficient option is to store your water in 50-55 gallon sized rain barrels designed for water storage. These barrels are composed of HDPE (the same plastic resin as food grade buckets), and many also include basic features such as a spigot for dispensing the water and a mesh lining on top to keep out yard debris and insects. There are many styles of rain barrels available to match any type of outdoor house decor if style is a factor to you. One of these barrels supplies enough water for two adults for 3+ days. Your buildings gutter system can be routed into the barrel to collect the excess water or you can simply fill it up from an outdoor spigot. Keep in mind that water weighs about 8 lbs per gallon, so a full barrel will weigh approximately 400 lbs!
Another water storage option is the WaterBrick. WaterBricks have traditionally been used for humanitarian and relief purposes but have gained popularity for preparedness uses. Unlike water bottles or jugs, WaterBricks are designed to stack on top of each other enabling them to be stored efficiently in closets, under beds, etc. They are also made of HDPE food grade plastic and can also be used to store food or water. WaterBricks come with a handle that makes moving them around very manageable. The main drawback to using the WaterBrick system is their price. Coming in at approximately $18 for the standard 3.5 gallon size, it puts it out of some people’s price range. Bottom line is if you can afford it, the WaterBrick system is among the best method of storing water.
Finally, a great back-up option to add to any solid food and water storage program is the waterBOB. The waterBOB consists of a food grade liner that is attached to your bathtub. It’s important to understand that the waterBOB is a great supplement to add to your water storage plan but it’s certainly not the only source of water storage you should be counting on. They’re not re-useable and in some instances if no water is dispensing from the tap, it’s useless. Scenarios that would provide you with advanced warnings such as oncoming storm systems, planned water line disruptions, etc are the most likely events in which the waterBOB would be extremely useful.n an emergency you simply attach the waterBOB to the bathtub faucet and fill it up. It will store up to 100 gallons of water and includes a spigot for dispensing the stored water.
Now that you know how much water you want store and the type (or types) of vessels you’ll use to store the water in, it’s time to cover a few methods of water purification.