Well Prepared: Long-Term Water Storage for Any Situation

Say the worst happens—the usual structures that keep civilization intact fall apart, for whatever reason. Some of the first things to go will be municipal utilities—power and water. You can live without electricity, but water? If you don’t get that sorted out—fast—you’re in a world of hurt. In a situation like this, would you have enough stored water in or near your home for you and your family to survive on?

How Much Water Do You Need?

In general, you’ll need a gallon of water, per person, per day. If you live in a hot climate, if you need to be physically active, if there’s a pregnant or nursing woman in your group—for a lot of different reasons—you’ll probably need more.

The amount of water you’ll want to store is dependent on a long list of variables, like how long you expect to need to survive on your own supplies, how long you expect your regular source of water to be cut off, etc. We won’t focus on those issues, but rather go over a handful of ways to successfully store water for a long period of time.

Long-Term Solutions

The first thing you’ll need to focus on are containers that are safe for long-term water storage. A good general recommendation is to use food-grade plastic bottles, but of course you can use glass storage bottles. You’ll want to be sure whatever containers you choose have never been used to store any harmful chemicals or anything that would contaminate the water. Stainless-steel isn’t the best option, as any water stored in a stainless-steel container can’t be treated with chlorine, as this will corrode the container. And no matter what container you end up choosing, you’ll want to be sure you can securely seal it to keep out dust, foreign matter, and especially bacteria.

Treating Stored Water

Many sources recommend that if you collect tap water, you don’t need to treat it, as it already contains chlorine. If you’re collecting rainwater, you will want to treat it with chlorine drops to make sure algae and bacteria can’t grow in it. Your best source of chlorine is store-bought bleach—which will go a long way. Two drops of bleach per liter or quart of water is enough to purify it for long-term storage.

Staying Prepared

These are good general guidelines, covering the basics of water storage, and you can decide how much you’ll want to set aside to be as prepared as you need to be. One more thing to consider—many sources say you should rotate your water supply about once a year, so include that in your planning.