The Point

Water is necessary for life and survival. You are 60 to 70 percent water. It’s necessary for all bodily functions.

If you are thirsty, you're  already dehydrated.

You can only last three to four days without it. Having a storage of clean drinking water and knowing how to safely treat more is vital to "be ready" for survival.

Do This

  • Store a MINIMUM of 1 gallon of clean drinking water per person per day.
  • Store a MINIMUM 2 week supply (14 gallons each) for you and your family.
  • Gather and store water treatment supplies in your disaster supply kits and at home supplies.
  • Store more water as space, budget, and ability allow.

You are 60% to 70% waterHow Much Water Do We Need?

Our bodies are 60 to 70 percent water. It is necessary for all bodily functions. You can only last three to four days without it. If we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated. The best indicator of how much water we need is our urine. If it is clear and plentiful, we are probably hydrated. If it has color or we don’t “go” very often, we are dehydrated.
Store a MINIMUM of one gallon per person per day, a half gallon for drinking and a half gallon for food preparation and sanitation. You will need more at high altitudes or in dry climates. Children, elderly, sick, nursing mothers, or those who are physically exerting themselves will also need more. Store a BARE MINIMUM of two week’s supply for your family, but it is recommended to store a supply of one month or more.

Disaster Supply Kit Water

Red Be Ready Utah Backpack representing a disaster supply kitAs stated before, it is recommended to have a minimum of one gallon of drinking water per person per day, but how do you store a three-plus day supply in your disaster supply kit? Each gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, so three gallons would be more than 25 pounds. That's a lot of weight and space. So how much should we carry in our kits?

We recommend you carry about one full gallon of drinkable water in your disaster supply kit. Young children and the elderly may not be able to carry this much water but should still have as much as possible in their kits. Do the best you can according to your needs and abilities.

There are a few different options to carry water in a disaster supply kit. A simple solution is to include a number of commercially filled water bottles. They are easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. They have a recommended rotation of two to three years. A possible downside, they may not pack well in an emergency kit with limited space to begin with and tightly packing around them may cause them to burst in your kit, losing your water and destroying other items around them. If this is what you have to start with, go ahead and put them in your kit, but upgrade to a better container as soon as you are able. As all things in your disaster supply kit, check it every six months. Make sure it is not broken and is not leaking.

Water Pouches and Refillable Water Bag

Water Pouches and Refillable Water Bag

A better option are commercially filled water pouches. Each pouch holds a little more than 4 fluid ounces of clean drinking water and has about a five year shelf-life. That's about 30 pouches for one gallon. That still seems like a lot, but the nice thing about pouches, they are easy to  adjust how many you carry and still have an accurate count of how much water you have. Carry as much as you can comfortably carry and still leave room and weight in your disaster supply kit for other essentials. The only downside of water pouches, if you can call it that, is that they are one time use. Once you use the water, discard the empty pouch. they don't work very well for if you come across another source of water.

We recommend in addition to the water pouches that you add a refillable water container. You can use a hard water bottle or canteen, but because of their rigidity, they will always take a lot of room in your kit whether they have water in them or not. A nice thing with a metal canteen is you can boil your water directly in it for purification purposes. A collapsible plastic or Mylar water bag are great options for refillable water containers. They are light weight and take very little room when empty. If you come across a source of water, fill up the bag and if necessary, add water purification options directly into the bag. A personal preference is the hydration bladder style water bags with the attached drinking hose. It makes it easier to drink from the water bag while you are on the go, rather than stopping and digging in your kit for your water. Additionally, some water filters can be attached to the drinking hose making filtration and easy process. Be careful if the water bag is your primary water storage for your kit. You need to rotate the water every six months to a year, as opposed to the water pouches that have a five year shelf-life.

Water Purification Tablet

Water Purification Tablet

You also need some water treatment options in your disaster supply kit for the possibility of the additional water you find not being clean. One thing you can do is have a small cooking pot or the metal canteen mentioned earlier for boiling water. You'll also need a means of starting a fire. Water must boil for a full three minutes at Utah's average elevation to kill possible pathogens in the water. Water purification tablets are another option for killing pathogens. They are a good option for water purifying on-the-go, but they take considerably longer than boiling. Follow manufactures instructions and know that they have an expiration date. Ask your local emergency preparedness or outdoor retailer for recommendations. Purification tablets work best when used with a quality water filter. If you have additional room, include a small backpacking or personal filter. Larger ones have a hand pump that produce water quickly for small groups. This may be a good option if you have a family with small children. Other options include straw filters or filters that fit inline with a hydration bladder. Again, check with your local preparedness or outdoor retailor for suggestions.

Water Storage

Whenever you are storing something for long term, the ideal conditions are cool, dark, and dry at temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees.
Hot temperatures promote bacteria and algae growth, while cold temperatures can loosen seals or break containers.
Light from the sun, and even artificial light, breaks down the integrity of water containers and causes algae to grow.
Moisture buildup on and around the outside of your storage container can promote mold growth which will produce toxins that can pass through container walls into your water.

Water Storage Containers

• Pre-bottled water has a recommended two to three year shelf life. Some biodegradable bottles are even less. It is more expensive than and not always as clean as tap water because the FDA holds bottled water to a lower standard than the EPA does for municipal water.
• Pre-used Containers can sometimes be obtained from restaurants or other food preparation locations inexpensively. Remember that your water will probably taste like whatever was in the container previously.
• Thoroughly clean pre-used containers with a mixture of a teaspoon of chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish it around and let it sit for a few minutes before emptying it and completely rinsing it with fresh water.
• DO NOT use containers which held chemicals or other dangerous substances.
• DO NOT use milk jugs to store water. They quickly break down and become brittle.
• Food Grade Plastic Containers made from a High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) are the recommended way to store water for the long term. They are light weight when empty and very durable. Get dark, solid colors to block light from reaching your water.
• Phthalate is an unsafe chemical that comes from some plastics. Polyethylene water and food storage containers are specifically designed for safe, long term use with food and water. If there is any kind of leaching into the water from the container itself, it is miniscule and cannot harm you.
• Glass and Metal are not recommended for water storage.

Filling Considerations

• Use a Drinking Water Hose: At worst, garden hoses can add contaminants to your water; at the least, garden hoses give your water a rubbery taste.
• Don’t “Re-Treat” Municipal Water: Municipal water is already treated and is ready for long term storage. More chemicals or treatment is unnecessary.
• Treat Well or Other Ground Water Before Storage: Depending on the emergency, you may not have time or ability to treat the water. Make it safe for use before storing it. Even if ground water is already safe, it probably has contaminants in it that will grow and multiply if put into long term storage.
• Fill to just overflowing: Get as much air out as possible.

Storage Considerations

• Vary Container Sizes: Large containers are the most efficient use of your space but are difficult to move. Store water in smaller containers as well that are able to be carried to kitchens or restrooms where water is needed. When empty, siphon from the larger containers.
• Do Not Store Directly on the Concrete: Put on a pallet, 2x4s or something to allow air to circulate under and around the container. This prevents external moisture buildup.
• Check Yearly: Check for odd smells, discoloration, contamination, and leaks. Replace if necessary.
• Rotation: FEMA & Red Cross say to rotate your water every 6 months. If it is stored in a cool, dark and dry place, your water can be good for 2 to 5 years.

Storage Locations

• Ponder Emptying & Refilling: Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon. A 55 gallon drum weighs over 450 pounds. Once it’s full, it’s not moving. Find a place that makes it easy to empty and fill your containers for water rotation, near a drain and near a water outlet.
• Multiple Locations: Store in more than one location because if one area is lost or damaged in an emergency, you have more elsewhere.
• Ideal Locations:
– Indoors in a Basement
– Food Storage Room
• OK Locations
– Garage or Storage Shed – Rotate yearly.
– Under Sinks - Beware of proximity to possible chemical contaminants.
• Last Resort
– Outside: Cover with a heavy tarp to help prevent sunlight from reaching the containers. Rotate at least every 6 months. Don’t fill to the top, leave a little room for expansion from possible freezing and heating. Replace containers every 5 to 10 years.

Water Treatment

What do you do when your stored water is gone?

Water Treatment
Many different options for filters

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