In the case of a disaster or catastrophe, one of the requirements people have that may be difficult to keep up with is water. Water is used for drinking and cleaning, for cooking, and may be needed for other uses. The average person uses 80-100 gallons a day in the United States. Obviously, this is not going to be possible in an emergency situation in which water availability is reduced.
Why Store Water?
If a situation results in a lessened availability of water, or a lack of available water at all, it does not change the fact that people need water. The human body can survive without water for only about 10 days, unlike food which can be survived without for up to six weeks. Additionally, it can be quite uncomfortable to go days or weeks without being able to wash. Not being able to wash one’s hands can go beyond uncomfortable into dangerous; it has been proven that regular hand washing can prevent many types of diseases from spreading person to person.
Having a quantity of water stored against an emergency would be quite useful in such a situation. It can be stored separately for drinking or for cleaning, as the water for cleaning does not require being potable.
Mistakes to Avoid
Improper storage of water will result in the water becoming toxic. While it does not have an expiration date, per se, it can develop bacteria or other toxicities in certain scenarios. Contaminants are not always visible, so it is important to be sure the stored water is still safe when it is needed, since drinking contaminated water can cause a person to be very ill, or even die.
- Do not use containers for storage that are not food grade. These are usually labeled, but in cases where they are not specifically marked “food grade,” some things that indicate safety include the numbers in the triangle “recycle” symbol – numbers 1, 2, 4, and 7 are used for food-safe containers. There will also be a symbol that recommends freezing or pantry storage.
- If the food-safe container has been used to store a non-food item previously, do not use it for storing drinking water. This includes containers like 2-liter soda bottles, milk jugs, and other similar items. Even if you wash these repeatedly, it is nearly impossible to clean out everything, which means there will be impurities that can contaminate the water over time.
- Cardboard is not a safe way to store water. While boxed water may be a thing in some cases, it will not last long. The water will soak through eventually and it is unreliable.
- Metal containers – other than stainless steel – are a bad idea. Water causes metals to rust, and this is a contaminate that is undesirable for drinking water or cleaning water.
- Open water can become contaminated much more easily than sealed water. Containers that will not seal are not a good choice for storing water.
- Water should not be stored in direct sunlight or in a location that is very hot. Both of these factors will affect the water quality. Use a shaded area that is cool and keeps as even as possible a temperature.
- Containers that may leach chemicals are always a bad idea. Plastic and even glass could be negatively affected by excess heat or sunlight, or drastic temperature changes.
What to Look for in Water Storage Containers
Before beginning to find storage containers, there are some important things to consider. These include the storage space available, the budget for purchasing containers, how many people to prepare for, and location (such as whether there are natural water sources available). If storage space is at a premium, choosing containers that can easily stack may be wise. Round containers are more difficult to fit into a space without losing rather large amounts of storage space.
Plastic tends to be less expensive than metal or glass, though the latter are largely more durable and less likely to have contaminants. Barrels are heavy, but reliable. Bladders for filling in a bathtub can hold a lot of water, but this sort of emergency water storage bag will take up the tub space, limiting washing areas. Water tanks may hold a lot but are not at all portable; this can be a problem if it becomes necessary to evacuate. Water in a pool can be used within the first few days of a situation occurring, but it will be likely to become contaminated in a short time. A well is an excellent option, as it is meant to provide fresh water already, but it is not exactly a container, in the strict sense of the word.
5 Gallon Stackable Water Storage
Compact and portable, these blue containers are made of HDPE and are BPA-free and food grade. The bottom of each container fits neatly on the top of an identical container. Six of these come together, providing storage for 30 gallons of water in an area just over 30″ wide, 28.5″ tall, and 11.25″ deep. Single use sealing caps can be used with the single spigot that is included.
Durable 5 Gallon Portable Storage
Two five-gallon containers are BPA-free LDPE and HDPE plastic. They include a handle and a spout to make them easy to carry and easy to pour into smaller bottles. Heavy-duty and durable, the cap is made to prevent leaks or spills.
Bathtub Water Storage Container
Made by WaterBOB, this plastic bladder is made to hold up to a hundred gallons of water in any general bathtub in an emergency situation. Meant as temporary storage, it fits neatly into the tub to keep the water safe from leftover dirt or soap and closes off to keep out debris and contaminants. The heavy-duty plastic is food grade and BPA-free.
Collapsible Water Storage Bag
1.3 gallons (5 liters) of water can be stored in this clear plastic collapsible jug, which has a handle for easy carrying and a spout for easy pouring. Environmentally friendly and food safe plastic is flexible, durable, reusable, and does not add any flavor or odor to the water. These will store flat when empty and can be easily refilled using the 1.27″ opening.
550 Gallon Reservoir
Thick walls of polyethylene plastic are translucent to aid in seeing how much liquid is inside. It is designed to hold potable water and is BPA-free.
Stainless Steel Water Can
Available in 5, 8, and 10 gallon capacity, the stainless steel can has a stainless steel cap that seals the water inside safely. A built-in handle makes the can portable and the spout allows the water to be poured easily.
Glass Water Jugs
8 glass jugs hold one gallon each. Caps are not included but these can be sealed with cork or other closure, or caps can be purchased separately.
Caps for water jugs: https://www.amazon.com/38mm-Poly-Seal-Screw-gallon/dp/B0064OFP88/?tag=thecitydark-20
These caps are made to fit the glass jugs above.