Water Storage Options
In most emergency situations, fresh drinking water is the most important item you can store. It is recommended to have both portable and stationary emergency water storage. Portable water containers should be light enough to carry during an emergency. Be sure to take into consideration that water weighs 8 lbs per gallon. Preparedness authorities recommend storing at least 14 gallons of water per person. This would mean a family of 4 would want to store approximately 56 gallons of water (remember to store both stationary and portable). Experts also tell us that we should store anywhere between 2 – 4 quarts per person per day. 2 quarts should be sufficient for base survival purposes, and more if one wants to be able to wash. There are many types of containers and options available for storing water for long term. Heavy containers should always be stored close to ground level and if possible all containers should be secured to prevent breakage or possible injury in the event of any earthquake or natural disaster. As with your food storage, rotate your water. Ideally, each container of water should be refreshed within 6-12 months. In the case of an emergency my family will make sure that any water that is older than 6 months will be filtrated/purified before drinking.
Water Storage Drum Containers
Heavy-duty, thick, polyethylene barrels, made of food-grade materials, are great for water storage. These barrels are normally blue and normally come in sizes that range from 15 to 55 gallons. (Color is important, blue means water is being stored, red would mean fuel or flammable liquid is being stored, and colors other than blue may not be food-grade plastic) It is recommended to store these barrels in a dark and cool area, such as a basement or food storage room. Storing your barrel outside could have an effect on the life of the barrel. It is not recommended to store any water container in direct or indirect sunlight. Also, it is best to store water barrels with a non-pourous insulation barrier (such as wood) between the cement and the barrel. It is our understanding that the concrete will leech chemicals into the water, contaminating it and that concrete will also degrade the plastic bottle causing failure.
We don’t recommended storing a barrel outside, but if you have to, it is recommended to take certain necessary precautions. Cover it as much as possible to prevent exposure to light, ensure cleanliness and for insulation purposes. During the winter you have to take into account the freezing factor. When water freezes it expands. If there is not enough room at the top of your barrel, it can cause your barrel to become disfigured or may even crack. It is recommended to only fill the barrel 9/10 the way full if you plan on storing it in a place where there is a potential of freezing.
Metalized Water Bag
Another water storage options is the metalized plastic bag in a boxed water kit. The metalized bag is filled with water and then placed in a cardboard box. The square shape of these leaves little wasted space in regards to storage. The water is kept from light, limiting any bacteria or algae growth. These kits are great because they offer an easy to use and versatile portable water system. The boxes provide a convenient carrying case for transporting water.
A smaller version of the metalized water bag system is the water pouch or box of purified drinking water. Each pouch contains approximately four ounces of water that can be stored for more than five years. This would be an alternative to heavier containers as a minimum ration for small children. These small pouches may not be as convenient for large amounts of water but could do well in your bug-out bag.
Recycling Your Soda Bottles
Two-liter pop bottles or other PETE plastics are also a good option for inexpensive water storage and a great way to get started. Another benefit is that in the case that they fall, such as in an earthquake or storm, they are amazingly sturdy and less likely to break than some other ‘recycled’ containers. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly. FEMA says: “for plastic soft drink bottles sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart (1/4 gallon) of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.” Avoid milk jugs and containers that have contained juice or cooking oil. According to FEMA “If you decide to re-use plastic storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or juice in them. The reason is that milk protein” (and fats) “or fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them.” Avoid plastic containers that have been used to store non-food items as well. These plastics are not food-grade and could be leeching chemicals into your water.
Besides washing them thoroughly it is recommended that you store them in a cool, dark area. Light and warmth will promote the growth of microorganisms such as algae and bacteria. It is recommended to not store them next to food or other items that can be damaged by water in the case that they break down and leak.