Storing Water for Your Family
Water is essential for survival. We rely on it for life, and can live without it for only a few days. For that reason, storing water is more important than storing food. In any emergency, water may be limited or even cut off. Water should be stored in containers before it is needed; don't wait until an emergency.
If your family's water supply comes from a well, a power outage may mean you can't pump water and you'll need to make sure you have another source of water or adequate water storage.
What You Need
- A normally active person should drink at least two quarts of liquid each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
- Store at least one gallon per person per day, for drinking, cooking, and washing, and extra water for family pets.
- Don't forget water for your horses or livestock
- Pails and buckets for hauling and storing water.
- Store water in thoroughly washed, food-grade plastic, glass, or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Recycle self-stored water every six months. Commercially bottled water has a one-year shelf life.
- Store drinking water in your freezer. It will help keep food frozen if power goes off, and you can drink it as it thaws. (Or you can take it to the lake for a picnic when there's no emergency!)
Drinking Water Sources
- If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use water already in your hot water tank, in your plumbing, and in ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl), if there is no disinfectant in it and it is purified first.
- Waterbeds hold up to 400 gallons, but some waterbeds contain toxic chemicals that cannot be fully removed by purifiers. If you designate a waterbed in your home as an emergency resource, drain it yearly and refill it with fresh water containing two ounces of bleach per 120 gallons. Or use the water only for toilet flushing.
- To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the highest (elevation) faucet in your house and draining the water from the lowest one.
- Locate the water inlet / shutoff valve for your location. Learn how to operate the valve properly and have the necessary tool nearby.
- Collect rainwater for cleaning and washing.
- Follow disinfection procedures if you must use streams, creeks or lakes.
To disinfect your emergency water supply, follow these steps:
- Strain the water through a clean cloth to remove any sediment
- Mix the water with a household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution. Do not use bleach solutions containing perfumes or colors).
- For one gallon of clear water, use 8 drops of bleach; for cloudy water, use 16 drops.
- Let the water stand for at least 30 minutes.
- When you do not smell a slight chlorine odor, repeat the disinfection process.
How you can help your local water supplier in an emergency
In most areas, treated water is stored in tanks and provides continuous service - by gravity - to customers. In some areas, however, water must be pumped to storage tanks. If there are power outages, normal water service may be disrupted because electricity may not be available to operate electrical pumps that refill water storage tanks as the water is consumed. In such situations, all customers should refrain from using water for non-essential purposes until electrical power is restored. When power is out, some water suppliers have access to emergency generators, gasoline motor-driven portable pumps or fire department pumps to pump water into tanks. However, these are emergency measures designed to provide minimal levels of water service on a temporary basis.
Even customers with electrical power could be asked to limit their water consumption because the water tanks that serve them may be located in neighborhoods without electrical service.