04 September 2011

Prep30: Ensure that you have a basic water supply

Reviewing our Rule of Threes, we see that we can live without food for far longer than water. So, in your emergency preparedness plans, be sure that you address storing an emergency supply of water. Here are some tips that you can quickly do to improve your water preparedness:
  1. First, you need to determine how much water you and your family need. Generally, it's advised to allow for a gallon of water per day, per person. That will take care of drinking water, as well as some for incidental use like cooking or minor washing. Of course, that means that you'd need to include 12 gallons of water in 72-hour emergency kits for a family of four. That much water weighs about 100 pounds, so consider how you'll store and transport it.

  2. While you can buy bottled water, it can get pretty pricey, especially if you stock single-serving bottles of water. Instead wash out clean, airtight containers and fill them with water, instead of buying bottled water. Old milk plastic jugs or large juice containers work pretty well.

  3. If you have room, keep some of your plastic containers of water in your refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold for several hours in case of a blackout. The extra mass of ice (or water) stays cool and helps keep the temperature in the refrigerator/freezer lower, longer.

  4. Be sure to mark the date that you store your water. You can safely store water for at least 6 months. Mark a note on your calendar, or use some other reminder to regularly check your water supply and rotate out any water that's too old. (Be sure to use the water for something worthwhile, of course, rather than just dumping it.)

  5. If you have advance notice of an emergency, fill your bathtub with water. That will give you 40 or more gallons of clean water to use, depending on the size of your tub. You may want to consider having a waterBOB or an AquaPod, both of which are inexpensive plastic water storage bladders that sit inside your tub and can be filled with water. They keep the water clean and available for drinking.

  6. Remember too that there are preexisting sources of stored water in your home too. For instance, the water inside the toilet tank (but not the toilet bowl) is safe to use. Also, your water heater contains a lot of drinkable water, so read up on how to get that water out before you need to do it.

  7. You may want to shut off water main in a disaster, which will keep the water in pipes clean a usable. Again, learn how to do this in advance, get the required tools, and keep them where you can quickly find them.


  1. Great advice. Everyone should have water stored. when it comes time to rotate mine, I use the older water to fill pet bowls. I find 2L pop bottles well washed out are easiest to use here, since we drink so much Coca-Cola. I figure I wash out and re-purpose every third or fourth bottle we empty. I feel better about the pop we do buy and I'm putting water by too!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Carolyn! I like 2L bottle too because of their size. Unfortunately, we don't drink much pop/soda, so they're actually harder to come by for us. Instead, we end up with gallon or half-gallon containers from other drinks.

    We've also bought a few inexpensive stainless steel water bottles, which we find useful for our 72-hour emergency kits. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find these for very little money. (I saw some 24-oz. stainless steel bottles for $3 at an auto parts store the other day, and have seen them cheaper than that on clearance racks.)