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How to Store Water for Emergency Use

When emergencies happen, including those that impact your ability to access fresh water, it’s important to know how to store water for emergency use before you really need to—not after. Clean, safe drinking water is critical for survival and should be a top priority for emergency preparedness.

A water emergency can happen regardless of where you live, and there are many potential causes: hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and any other type of large-scale environmental event. As for how much you need to have stored up in advance, the general rule of thumb is a gallon of water per person per day (half a gallon for drinking and half a gallon for hygiene), with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advising that you keep at least a two week supply of emergency water on hand for every member of your family. That’s 14 gallons of water per person that you’ll want to have in storage—and don’t forget about your pets, too!

When stored in the right containers and conditions, emergency water can be kept for up to two years. You may want to replace your supply sooner than that, but it’s important to understand that a replacement will be necessary after the five year mark, and possibly sooner depending on how you store your emergency supply.

Below, we’re covering some of the basics of water storage, including how to go about collecting and storing your emergency supply of water, and what the best water storage containers are for doing so.

How to Get Started with Emergency Water Storage

Emergency water storage can be a lifeline in the event of a major disaster. So, to make sure that you’re adequately prepared, start building up an emergency water supply sooner rather than later.

There are two basic ways that people gather and store water for emergencies, and it is generally advised that you do both.

You can buy commercial water bottles, such as those you can pick up at the grocery store. These aren’t necessarily the ideal way to go since purchasing so many can get expensive and they’re not as durable as a large potable water storage container (nor do they hold nearly as much). But, they’re still a good idea to have on hand. Note that for long term storage you will need to be sure to keep your water bottles in a cool and dark place, such as your basement or garage. When stored properly, commercial water bottles can stay drinkable for up to two years.

Perhaps the best way to build up your emergency supply of potable water however is in an emergency water storage tank made out of food-grade plastic. These tanks are made specifically for the long term storage of drinking water, and are UV stabilized so that you can store them outdoors if you don’t have room in your home. Our own inventory of emergency water containers ranges from 45 gallons to 500 gallons, so that you can always ensure you have enough water on hand for all of the people and/or animals in your home. They also have built-in taps which takes the guesswork out of how to access the water later on.

To fill your container, start by cleaning and sanitizing it with a gentle dish soap followed by a solution of one teaspoon non-chlorine bleach to one quart of water—then fill up as desired. Aim to clean out and refresh the water in your containers every six months to one year (you can put any unused water to use in your yard, or for cleaning, drinking, or hygiene). When removing safe water from the container, it’s best to use a clean scoop each time to avoid any possible  contamination of the water. It’s best to never scoop with your hands, and to avoid touching the inside of the container.

Water Storage Containers

As clean and safe drinking water is a necessity during and after an energy situation, it’s integral to have a water storage container that will keep your water safe over a long period of time. One of the biggest benefits to investing in water storage containers is that they come in all different materials, shapes, and sizes.

Plastic water tanks are lightweight and durable, making them an ideal long-term storage solution. Our wide selection of BPA-free plastic water storage tanks are UV stabilized, maintenance free, have excellent impact resistance, and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation for storage of potable water.

What Not to Do When it Comes to Storing Emergency Water

Just as important as knowing what to do when it comes to establishing a supply of emergency water is knowing what not to do. Here are some things to avoid so that you can be sure your water is available and drinkable if and when you need it.

#1: Storing your water improperly. It doesn’t matter how much water you store if you don’t store it correctly. Make sure to follow the proper protocols for the type of supply that you have, which includes keeping commercial bottles in cool and dark places, sanitizing large water containers before you fill them up, only using food-grade water storage containers, making sure your water storage container is completely sealed, and never storing emergency water near gasoline or in direct sunlight.

#2: Not keeping your supply accessible. In the same vein, you need to be able to physically access your emergency supply when disaster strikes. Keep your water at home and somewhere where you can easily get to it if you need to.

At Plastic-Mart, we have a huge supply of potable water storage containers that can help guarantee you will be good to go in an emergency, including portable tanks and stackable tanks. Find what you need in a huge range of sizes so that you’re always prepared with the water that you need to keep you and your family safe. Containers are available for pick-up at one of our many facilities, or can be easily shipped right to your door.