Your Guide to Water Storage

Water storage is a major component of your emergency preparedness plan.  It can be a daunting task, saving 1 gallon of water per day per person,  plus whatever you use to cook and clean with.  However, like all things related to emergency preparedness, if you work one step at a time, you can be ready for all your water needs.

When preserving water there are a few things you need to consider:

Water Containers Choosing your water container is one of the most important parts of water preservation. You should look at different sizes that will work with the different water needs. For instance:

Large water tanks – Large water storage tanks are great for general water storage. Large water barrels range in size from 30 to 500 gallon
Pros: Using a siphon, you can easily extract the water for drinking, bathing, washing, etc. They are also usually more cost effective, especially if you shop during a water container sale.
Cons: These water tanks can be more difficult to clean and rotate your water storage. They also require more room than smaller containers.

250-Gallon Water Container


5-gallon and smaller – Another good option for water storage is the 5-gallon stackable water container.
Pros: These 5 gallon water jugs are easy to clean, easy to rotate, and easy to use. They are stackable so they can be inserted into most storage spaces.
Cons- Your water supply is disrupted faster than if you use a larger container.

Water bottles/Water Pouches – Water bottles/pouches are good for individual drinking needs.
Pros: This is the most convenient way to get your water. You can monitor exactly how much you are drinking, take your water with you, etc.  Water pouches are sturdy and packable and have a 5-year shelf life.
Cons: While most bottles are now BPA free, the thin plastic is not as strong as the larger containers, causing leaking risks. Also, the clear plastic exposes the water to heat and light, increasing the risk of mold/bacteria growth.  You can’t add preserver without breaking the seals of each bottle.

When choosing water containers, remember:
– Only store in food-grade, BPA-free containers.
– If using glass containers, make sure they haven’t had any other liquid inside previously.
– Never use containers that have stored chemicals, oils, etc.
– If using stainless steel, don’t use a water preserver as the chemical will break down the metal over time.

So, what water containers do you need? Really, a combination of water containers is ideal for water storage emergency preparedness. Larger containers are good for washing, cleaning, and drinking. Medium water containers are perfect for easy-access water needs. Smaller water bottles are convenient for drinking and on-the-spot cleaning.

Water Preservers –  There are only a couple water preservation methods proven safe for long-term storage.
Bleach- Also known as sodium hypochlorite, bleach is a common way to preserve water.
Pros: Bleach truly does clean water, and keeps it clean for long periods of time. It’s also easily accessible.
Cons: Store-bought bleach is sold in a fairly high sodium hypochlorite/water ratio, making it very hard to know what concentration is safe for human consumption. It’s best for storing in containers used for washing, but not for drinking.
Water Preserver – Also sodium hypochlorite or bleach.
Pros: Bottled water preserver is best for consumable water because the chemical/water concentration is regulated and is consumable in the recommended ratios.
Cons: Water preserver isn’t as easy to get as bleach.  It isn’t at most stores, so you need to get it through emergency preparedness sites. (We recommend Food Insurance, of course.)

IF you choose to not use a water preserver, be prepared to rotate your water and clean out your container every 6-12 months.

Storage and Rotation– Water never goes bad. We’ve had the same water supply since the beginning of time. However, water can grow bacteria and mold grow in it over time.  Bleach and water preserver allows you to minimize rotation for up to 5 years, depending on storage conditions. Store your water in a cool, dark room away from direct sunlight for optimal results.  If you don’t have a cool, dark room, that’s okay. You can obviously still store your water. You just need to rotate it more regularly. If you store outside, rotate it every year, even with a water preserver. (If you store it outside without a preserver, check it every few months.) If it’s inside, but in a lit area, check it every year, but you can probably go longer. The key is to check it regularly.

Do you prefer larger or smaller water containers? Where have you found is the best place for you to store water?