With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Sunday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in April 2014.
A big storm and an earthquake hit your town at the same time. It’s a certified quakenado.
Your house is spared structural damage, but the power and water are out. According to news reports, the grid is down in your area and several water mains are broken. Conservative estimates are that it will take crews at least a week to get water service restored.
Would you have enough water in your home to last you and your family until the water came back?
How Much Water Do I Need?
The general rule of thumb is that you’ll need one gallon of water per person per day. Half a gallon is used for drinking and the other half is used for hygiene. That number will go up depending on a whole host of factors. If you live in a hot climate or have pregnant or nursing women in your group, you’ll want to store more water.
Alright, so a gallon a day per person is the general rule.
Then the question becomes, how many days without water should you prep for?
Well that depends on how prepared you want to be for varying degrees of disaster.
FEMA recommends that everyone have enough water to last three days should your regular water source be disrupted. Three days of water should be enough to get you through the periods of water shut-off or contamination that can happen during natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and ice storms.
Three days is a good starting point, but even during run-of-the-mill disasters, water access can be down for much longer than that.
After spending hours reading prepper blogs and forums, it seems the general consensus is that you should have at least two weeks worth of water on hand. So for a single person, that’s 14 gallons of water. For a family of four, that would mean you’d need 56 gallons of water.
Whether you decide to go above and beyond the two-week minimum is up to you. For lots of people, finding space in their home or apartment to store enough water for two weeks is a stretch, so trying to find room for a month might not be in the cards. Even if space isn’t an issue, the upfront costs for long-term water storage can be prohibitively expensive.
My recommendation would be to start off with the two-week supply and slowly build up to larger amounts as space and money become available. Right now I have about a month’s worth of water for my family.
Long-Term Water Storage Solutions
So you’ve decided to start building your emergency water supply. You’ll need a safe container in which to store it. The general guideline is to use food-grade plastic bottles. You can also use glass bottles so long as they haven’t stored non-food items. Stainless steel is another option, but you won’t be able to treat your stored water with chlorine, as it corrodes steel. Finally, no matter what you store your water in, make sure you can seal it. You don’t want any bacteria or other contamination mucking up your drinking water. Below, we highlight several water storage options.
Two-Week Water Storage Options
Store-Bought Bottled Water. The easiest (but slightly more expensive) way to reach your water storage quota is to simply buy pre-packaged bottled water. It’s clean, well-sealed, and comes in food-grade plastic bottles. Moreover, bottled water is highly portable, which comes in handy if you need to bug out. This is a great option if you have limited space in your home or apartment. Just buy a bunch of packages and store them under beds.
Empty Soda/Water/Gatorade Bottles. If you’re a cheap bastard, you can just refill empty soda/water/Gatorade bottles with water from your tap. Just make sure to thoroughly clean the bottles first, using this process.
5-7-Gallon Water Jugs. If you’re a regular camper, you might already have a few of these in your garage. They’re made from sturdy, food-grade plastic. The plastic is usually a dark blue which restricts light and helps prevent algae growth. I think the blue is also to remind you that “Hey! This is for
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