Storing Water in Preparation of Emergencies

by Jay | Updated on July 26th, 2022

Every day, people around the world set aside money for an emergency. Doing so provides security if an appliance breaks, a vehicle needs repairs, or an unexpected medical procedure has to happen. So it makes logical sense to protect our financial security.

Being prepared for a natural disaster makes sense too. Preparing for an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards happen often. Do you have the supplies needed to go a week or two without running water?

plastic, plastic waste, plastic bottles

It is possible to survive without food for a short period, but survival without adequate water is impossible. According to The National Terror Alert (,

“A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need even more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day. You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family.”

The National Terror Alert

This number accounts for two quarts of drinking water and two quarts of cooking/sanitizing water per person. Carefully consider your environment when calculating your water needs. Hot regions and those in higher altitudes typically use more water per day. Therefore, the amount of water consumed can double in some circumstances. Plan accordingly.

Bottled water is inexpensive and easy to store. According to the FDA, “bottled water has an indefinite safety shelf life.” However, since bottled water is predominately in plastic bottles, it is wise to store the bottles in a cool, dry, and dark place that is free from chemicals. Doing so will ensure that the plastic doesn’t deteriorate from unnecessary exposure.

Based on The National Terror Alert’s figures, a family of four will need 28 gallons of water for one week, possibly more. As you consider the needs of yourself and your family, consider each person’s age and health, dietary needs, and the environment where you live. Remember that the body requires more water during warmer months to hydrate properly.

Water is just the beginning of preparing for any emergency. It sustains our lives, one drop at a time. How much water do you have stored in case you cannot use tap water or access water from a well in an emergency?

How to Store Water for Emergencies at Home

An important dimension of emergency preparedness is water storage. Building up an adequate home supply of water (along with food and other essentials) provides peace of mind in the middle of a small- or large-scale catastrophe. In addition, when done properly, long-term water storage effectively prepares people for the unexpected.

Reasons for Home Water Storage

When most people think of emergency preparedness, natural disasters first come to mind. If an earthquake or severe winter weather strands a person with no running water, having a supply of water at home could save a person’s life.

However, a person is much more likely to be without water for a day or two if their water main breaks or the city water supply is contaminated. Most people don’t realize how much they utilize their running water, and being without it for even a few hours can be stressful. Having a water supply at home provides peace of mind for these scenarios.

Emergency Water Supply: How Much Water Per Day, Per Person

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that people store a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day for each person. The average person needs to drink approximately half a gallon daily; the remainder is for cooking, dishwashing, toothbrushing, handwashing, and other hygiene.

The emergency water supply should be enough to last for at least 3 days. That means a family of four should have a minimum of 12 gallons of potable water storage.

Remember that this number represents the bare minimum. Before an emergency strikes, people should try to live on their allotted supply for a few days; they may find that they need to store water much more generously.

What Containers to Use for Storing Water

All water should be stored in plastic, food-grade containers. Two-liter soda bottles are a good choice because they are inexpensive and easily available.

Avoid milk cartons, which are not designed for long-term water storage and will eventually burst at the seams. Glass containers should also be avoided because of the possibility of breakage.

Filling and Sanitizing Water for Emergency Storage

Before filling used bottles with water, it’s important to clean them thoroughly. FEMA recommends using dish soap, rinsing, swishing a mixture of 1 teaspoon bleach and 1 quart of water inside, and rinsing completely.

When storing tap water commercially treated with chlorine, no additional additives are needed to sanitize the water. If unsure, it’s safe to add two drops of non-scented chlorine bleach to the water after filling the bottle.

Rotating and Using Water Storage

A disaster water supply should be stored in a cool, dry place. For example, many people store their water in the basement, elevated off the ground in case moisture gets into the basement.

Use each bottle of water within 6 months of the date it was filled. It’s advisable to regularly rotate bottles, placing the “newest” water at the back and using the “oldest” water first. Refrigerating stored water first will make it taste better.

Whether the disaster is large or small, an emergency water supply is essential to get through it. Unfortunately, many events might cause being stuck at home without water, so be prepared by knowing how much water to store and how to use it in case of disaster strikes effectively.


Self assessed Germaphobe, specializing in everything water, water filters, health and nutrition. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I've acquired immense amount of knowledge when it comes to natural, biology, and everything about human anatomy.