You never know what disaster can hit your area and how it will affect you. An earthquake, a tornado and even civil unrest will change the essential services in your area. You can do without food, without ammunition or your smartphone, but when the water runs out, you must have a backup plan. Spending effort on emergency water storage solutions will make sure you have enough water to outlast a crisis.
Many of us are storing water filters, purifiers and even alternative water sanitizers such as bleach and chlorine, hoping that one day we will have a good use of these items. The reality is that these things are just a plan B and you will still need to store water, and lots of it if you want to have a real chance in a long-term survival scenario.
Storing water is not complicated and you need to find the right emergency water storage solutions for you and your family. Before we look at the available options for emergency water storage, we have to discuss about the number one factor that can be affected if water is not stored correctly; our health.
When it comes to emergency water storage there is a significant debate going on: should one go with tap water or is bottled water a safer bet?
There are a lot of opinions about which one is best, most cost-efficient, and healthy. You will find a variety of sources of conflicting information online and you will realize that this question is a difficult one to answer. In a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council , of 1,000 bottles of drinking water from 103 brands, one in four brands “violated strict applicable state (California) limits for bottled water in at least one sample, most commonly for arsenic or certain cancer-causing manmade…organic compounds.” (Source)
In the United States, tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, the laws and standards governing tap water and bottled water are very different. Here are just a few examples:
- Tap water must be filtered and disinfected. There are no federal filtration or disinfection requirements for bottled water
- Tap water should be tested 100 or more times a month while bottled water must be tested just once a week
- Bottled water can be tested in-house (company-owned facilities). Tap water must be tested at government certified labs
- The test reports of bottled water are not reported to the general public. The test reports of tap water must be reported to the government
Once you decide on which water to choose, there is the plastics dilemma. If you store water in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers they will leach Bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disrupter into the water and it can cause health issues in time. Make sure your emergency water storage containers are BPA-free if you want to keep a good health.
Suggested reading: Where is all the water?
Emergency water storage solutions
Physical space limitation is one big problem for most of us when it comes to emergency water storage and we have to look at various solutions when it comes to storing this precious liquid.
Store bought water bottles
This is the most common solution for emergency water storage, but it can be quite costly if you don’t do it right. If you opt for this solution, you should always buy on sale and always from the big-box stores. Check if the plastic bottles are safe (BPA-free) and always rotate your water cache every 12 months.
Most of the retail stores offer five and seven water bottles, and they are a great storage solution. You can store a significant amount of water in a small place. The downside is that most of these water bottles do not stack and they are made from clear plastic (algae growth can become a problem).
These are a new solution for emergency water storage and they were designed to have a multi-purpose use. Waterbricks are 3.5 gallon stackable containers made out of incredibly rugged high density polyethylene. They were designed to save storage space and you can lock and stack them together up to 4 feet high for maximum storage capacity. You can also use them to store other things like dry food and ammunition. Each waterbrick has a comfort fit handle and you can even stack them in your bug out vehicle.
These are an excellent solution for emergency water storage if you have the space to incorporate 55-gallon plastic drums. Most of these barrels are BPA-free and UV-resistant because they are made from opaque plastic. They are very sturdy and you can find multiple uses for them once you’ve consumed all the water. Two of these barrels will provide a month of water for a family of four. The downside is that they are not portable and they can weight almost 500 pounds.
New barrels are rather expensive, but they can be had cheaper if previous used. Buy the ones that weren’t used for chemical storage and clean these barrels well before filling them with water. There is a debate about where to store these barrels and many people say that we should avoid storing them on concrete as it will react with the plastic. To be on the safe side put them on some cardboard. Amazon sells some of these emergency Water Storage Kits.
This is a last minute emergency water storage solution and it’s basically a bathtub-sized food grade plastic container. It allows you to fill up your bathtub with fresh tap water and it holds up to 100 gallons, depending on the size of your tub. According to the manufacturer, the WaterBOB will keep water fresh for up to 16 weeks. It also includes a siphon pump to extract the water quickly. This is a perfect solution for emergency water storage if you live in an apartment.
These are large rain barrels that collect water from your roof and are an economic way for emergency water storage. Although this is a good alternative for storing water, there are some hazards and legal issues that need to be addressed. The rainwater rinsing off of roofs made of asphalt, concrete, wood and steel may contain high concentration of copper, lead and other dangerous metals. Asphalt shingles may also contain small amounts of Benzo[a]pyrene, a carcinogenic compound. Although rain water can be purified, it is recommended to use it for crops or for cleaning. And last but not least, setting up a rainwater collecting system can lend you in jail. Make sure to check if you’re allowed to collect rainwater, it might be illegal or you will need a permit to do so.
Suggested reading: How to collect and store rainwater
These are emergency water storage solutions for serious preppers and will provide a supply that can last for months, if not years. A large cistern tank can hold around 10,000 gallons of water and this quantity should last a family of four around five years. This is a solution that requires a lot of space and it’s better if you manage to store it underground. This is a long-term investment and it will require maintenance. If you go with this solution, you have to keep in mind that most of these cisterns are not food-grade friendly and the water needs to be filtered in order to drink it.
Emergency water storage tips
Water doesn’t have an expiration date, but you still have to make sure that it is potable when the times comes to rely on your water supplies. Water will never go bad if you store it properly and it only becomes undrinkable if contaminants get into it. Chemicals, algae, and bacteria that get into your water will ruin it in a couple of days.
Emergency water storage requires the water to be sealed in air-tight, opaque containers. You shouldn’t open the containers unless you plan to use the water. It should be stored in a cool pace, a place where temperatures don’t fluctuate. If you fill your containers with tap water, there is no need to treat it with chlorine or iodine. Tap water should already be treated with chemicals so there’s no need to add more. However, if you want to be absolutely certain that your water is safe to drink, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine per gallon of water before you seal the containers.
Water stored for a long time will lack oxygen and it will develop and overall flat taste. To fix this, make sure you stir it up a little bit before you drink it. If you think that your water was contaminated, you can boil it or use a UV water purifier.
Emergency water is all around you, just look for it
I didn’t want to end this article without telling you that emergency water can be found all around you and all you need is a little imagination. Water can be found even in your home and as long as it is still standing you should try the following sources:
The water in the top tank of your toilet is safe to drink, it is tap water that’s just waiting to be used. It is a great source of emergency water for a couple of gallons. Make sure that nobody uses the toilet after an emergency if you need additional water.
There are water heaters that can hold up to 80 gallons of fresh water. It all depends on the model you have installed. Your water heater should have a drain valve that can be opened to empty its content. The amount of water you can get from a heater can save your life during an emergency.
Although not in significant quantity, there is always water in your pipes. There is a chance that most will have drained out after the pressure drops, but there is still hope. There are some places, like the attic, where water will collect in low spots and can be harvested by disconnecting the pipes.
If you have a decent sized pool, you have a good quantity of water just waiting to be used. After an emergency, make sure you collect the water from your pool and store it for later use. In time, the chlorine will burn away in the sun and the water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and algae. All sorts of contaminants can fall into the pool and it will make filtration and purification difficult.
Defrosting your freezer will provide you with a decent quantity of water. If you find a way to capture the melting ice, you will be able to use the water during an emergency
Some suggest that a 20 gallon fish tank will provide enough water for a single person for three weeks. If you filter the water and purify it, you can drink it in a time of need. One question still remains: what to do with the fish? Some survival experts suggest we should eat them as they are a good source of omega-3 oil.
Vegetables are usually packed in water to keep them fresh. Your canned goods can provide you with a decent quantity of water so make sure to save the water from your peas and carrots.
Water is life and you can’t survive without it. Putting effort into developing emergency water storage solutions for you and your loved ones will increase your chances of making it during a disaster. Storing water is no difficult and it doesn’t cost you much. Your emergency water storage will keep you alive for days, weeks, months and even years.
Stay safe and God Bless.
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