For the most part, our daily lives are routine and repetitive. We can reasonably expect to go to work, pick up the kids, come home, go to bed, and repeat. However, you never know when a drastic change will cause serious disruptions to your everyday life.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2023 is expected to be a less active Atlantic hurricane season, thanks to above-average ocean temperatures. But nature is unpredictable, and you should always be prepared for storms. Having accessible emergency water storage can reduce some of the risks.
From natural disasters and contamination of water sources to frozen pipes, local emergencies, and more, you just never know when you might need access to emergency water. By understanding the need and how to keep you and your family safe, you can rest assured you’ll be protected in the event of an emergency.
How Much Water Do You Need in an Emergency?
It’s easy to underestimate what the need will be when it arises. All too often, people employ a water storage plan without really considering how things will be when it really gets rough. While you may set aside a large water container, will it be enough? This is a critical question that needs to be carefully evaluated.
One Gallon Per Person Per Day
When planning for your emergency water storage, a good rule of thumb is to have one gallon per person per day on hand. To set yourself up for success, your water stores should consider at least three days to get you through the situation.
This seems like a lot. After all, the average person only needs around a half gallon a day for drinking. So, what’s with the extra half gallon?
The answer is sanitation. In an emergency situation, the need for proper hygiene often becomes more pronounced, so each person must have enough water to keep themselves protected. Water may also be needed for cooking.
Take Special Circumstances Into Consideration
The one-gallon per person per day rule is an excellent guideline for creating your emergency water plan. However, it’s important you don’t overlook special circumstances that can become problematic when trouble arises. Certain populations and situations that should be factored into your planning include:
- Nursing mothers
- People who are suffering from illness
- Medical emergencies
- Very hot climate
Don’t Forget About Your Pets
Now that your family is covered, don’t forget about your furry friends. Their need for water is just as dire as our own. As you consider the amount of water to store for your pet, there are certain things you need to think about. These would include:
- Activity level
Emergency Water Storage Needs for Dogs
Your dog requires 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds per day
Emergency Water Storage Needs for Cats
A cat requires 3.5–4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day
We all need water, and we use more than many of us really consider. By first understanding your needs, you are ready to evaluate the various storage methods available.
Best Emergency Water Storage Options
There are numerous methods for storing water, and depending on your needs and preferences, you must understand your options to decide on the most viable one. Let’s take a moment to examine some common methods that allow for convenience and sustainability.
BPA-Free Filtered Water
Filtered water is an excellent option for those with limited space for water storage. With other methods, keeping a physical stock of water on hand becomes necessary. Not only does this take up a lot of space, but it’s very heavy. Furthermore, depending on the type of emergency, you may lose these stores. This type of issue is not uncommon in a tornado or hurricane.
The risk with water filters is that you could lose water in your home in an emergency so that the filter would be useless.
You do have options when it comes to filtration, so let’s take a look at some of the most common methods.
Activated Carbon Filters
Water filters may use activated charcoal. Typically made of charred wood or some other natural substance, it works to attract toxic materials within the water, thus removing it before it’s allow to pass through the drinking vessel.
This method involves a highly intricate level of filtration that often surpasses activated charcoal in its ability to remove a higher degree of contamination from your water. This is a preferred method in the event of large-scale contamination, such as a natural disaster.
Read this reverse osmosis filter guide to learn more.
Using a process known as electrolysis, water passes over electrically-charged plates that separate the flow into two streams: acidic and alkaline. The final result is softer water, and alkaline water is better for your skin. It’s best to use it for washing.
This is among the more modern methods of filtering water, and it uses ultraviolet radiation to destroy several contaminants. Since it doesn’t require the use of any chemicals or heat, this method is highly sustainable and helps keep your carbon footprint low even amid a disaster.
Heat and light are both used in the infrared filtration method to give the water a negative charge. This softens the water but is not as heavily geared toward removing contamination. Therefore, it’s not a preferred method for water storage for emergency purposes.
Top-rated water filters are as follows:
Plastic containers are a common emergency water storage method. There are four main reasons plastic is a preferred choice:
- 1. It’s inexpensive.
- 2. It’s easy to replace.
- 3. It doesn’t weigh much.
- 4. It’s relatively durable.
While scientists have examined potential downfalls with this storage method, such as the possibility of chemical breaches over time, proper storage can prevent this. This would include keeping your stores in a cool, dry place and preventing direct contact with heat or light.
Of course, you’ll need to wash your glass container before putting your water in it. Furthermore, if the container you plan to use has been utilized in the past to store other materials, it’s best to opt for something new.
The obvious downside with storing your water in a glass container is that it’s heavy, and the vessel can easily break. This would not be an optimal solution in a natural disaster. If you use this method, it’s best to wrap the container in cardboard or newspaper.
Bottled water is a popular method due to its convenience. It doesn’t take much effort to buy bottled water in bulk. Although water doesn’t expire, the fact remains that the cheap plastics used in these products allow chemicals like BPA to penetrate over time, even if you store them out of direct sunlight. Therefore, if choosing this option, make sure you’re either:
- Changing out the water bottles regularly
- Only using for short-term storage
Boxed water is one of the newer methods of water storage. Promising a BPA Free option due to the use of no plastic, boxed water is a stackable and portable method for water storage. However, as boxed water is made of cardboard, you run a greater risk of leaks and punctures.
The water well has been in use since around 7,000-10,000 BC. They are used not only to produce but also to store water. When you invest in one on your property, you can generally expect to have access to safe drinking water in an emergency.
Large Plastic Barrels
Large plastic barrels offer one of the most reliable storage systems since they can hold such large quantities of water. The 55-gallon drums are blue so they can be easily recognized and aren’t costly. The downside is that they take up a lot of space and are very heavy.
How Long Does Stored Water Last?
While it’s true that water doesn’t have an expiration date, as we saw with many of the storage options available, there are ways for chemicals and toxins to make their way into your water source. Therefore, it’s important to get an understanding of how long stored water should last.
- Stainless steel, plastic, or glass container storage: Seal tightly, store in a cool, dark location, and rotate every six months
- Plastic bottles: Discard two weeks after opening
How You Know Water is Bad
The trouble with knowing for sure how long stored water will last lies in the fact that contamination can occur without you knowing it. The good news is that there are a few ways to tell if your water has gone bad:
- Doesn’t taste right
- Smells like chlorine or sulfur
- Appears cloudy or foamy
- Dirt and sediment is visible
An Ounce of Prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can only live around three days without water. In the event of an emergency, this can create a very dire situation indeed. When you correctly store water, you prevent you and the ones you loved from being put in a dangerous situation.
You never know when your water supply could be cut off, and these storage ideas put the power in your hands. By preparing yourself today, you can put yourself in a better position tomorrow.