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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.
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.
- 1 How Much Water Do You Need in an Emergency?
- 2 Best Emergency Water Storage Options
- 3 How Long Does Stored Water Last?
- 4 An Ounce of Prevention
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 container of water, will it really be enough? This is a critical question that needs to be carefully evaluated.
One Gallon Per Person Per Day
A good rule of thumb is to have on hand one gallon per person per day. 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 it’s highly important each person has 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 as you create 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 illness
- Medical emergencies
- Very hot climate
Don’t Forget About Your Pets
Now that you have your family 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
Water Needs for Dogs
Your dog requires 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds per day
Water 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 take into consideration. By first understanding your needs, you are now ready to begin evaluating the various storage methods available.
Best Emergency Water Storage Options
There are numerous methods for storing water, and, depending on your needs and preferences, it’s important you understand your options so you can 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, it becomes necessary to keep a physical stock of water on hand. 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 in not uncommon in the event of a tornado or hurricane.
The risk with water filters is that you could lose water to your home in an emergency, so 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 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 our 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 the 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 does so using ultraviolet radiation to destroy a number of 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 in the midst of 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 it’s 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 storage method for emergency purposes. 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 from happening. This would include keeping your stores in a cool, dry place and preventing direct contact with heat or light.
While plastic does pose certain risks, glass, as classified by the Food and Drug Administration, is GRAS, or Generally Recognized as Safe.. Of course, you’ll need to ensure your glass container is washed before putting your water in it. Furthermore, if the container you plan to use has been utilized in the past to store other material, 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 the event of a natural disaster. If you do use this method, it’s best to wrap the container in cardboard or newspaper.
Bottled water is a popular method due to 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 on a regular basis
- 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 stack-able 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 the event of an emergency.
Large Plastic Barrels
Large plastic barrels offer one of the most reliable storage systems available since they’re able to hold such large quantities of water. The 55-gallon drums are blue so they can be easily recognized, and they aren’t costly. The downside, of course, is that they take up a lot of space and are very heavy.
Stainless Steel Containers
It’s pretty clear to see, among the many container options available, there are numerous potential downsides. When you consider stainless steel containers, however, you eliminate a number of concerns as they are:
- Strong enough to keep chemicals from leaching through
- Highly durable
- Able to protect from sunlight
- A viable long-term storage solution
If these features are important to you, there’s a very important component to keep in mind as you shop. Make sure your steel container is food grade. Furthermore, they can be heavy and expensive. However, for many, the various pros make it worth the investment.
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.