Storing Water for Emergencies

by Bill Hanover on January 8, 2013

After Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the struggle to provide water to storm ravaged areas dominated the news for weeks. As heart-rending as these stories are, they teach us two very important lessons. The first tells us how critically important water is in an emergency, and the second confirms that you should never rely on someone else for your emergency needs.

Some years ago in my hometown, a cat crawled into a water pipe during the construction of a school, and died. It contaminated our community water system for days. Though not catastrophic, this incident illustrates the need to have emergency supplies of water on hand at all times.

How Much Water Should You Store?

The simplest answer is to keep a minimum of a three day supply. However, having two week’s worth on hand is far more prudent. Expect each member of your family to consume one gallon of water per day in an emergency. They will each use another gallon for cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene. For most families, that’s a total of 8-10 gallons per day.

Sometimes the best-made plans don’t work out how you’d want them to, thereby increasing the need for a backup plan. The best solution is keeping a Berkey Water Purification System in your home so you can continue to purify water throughout an emergency.

Water Storage

Store drinking water in food-grade plastic containers (available at most department stores). Plastic containers range from soda bottles to 55 gallon drums. Whatever you use, it must be thoroughly clean. Do not use milk jugs as residue in the plastic’s pores will grow bacteria. Glass is a viable option, but tends to break easily.

Include a couple of mid-size containers, such as five gallon jugs, in case you have to relocate or go somewhere to collect water. Store water in a cool, dry location and keep it out of direct sunlight. Mark all containers with the words “Drinking Water,” the date it was stored, and the purification method. Many people like to rotate their water supplies every six months to keep them fresh. I’m not convinced this is needed but would definitely freshen any stored water by running it through our Berkey before drinking it.

In a pinch, when storage is critical, fill your sink, bathtub, toilet tank (not the bowl), and garden hose with water. Never store water in bottles or jugs that held toxic or poisonous materials.

Water and Bleach

Since most folks have “Liquid Clorox Bleach around the house; the federal government suggests the following “Bleach to Water Ratio” and guidelines:

2 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per quart of water
8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon of water
1/2 teaspoon Regular Clorox Bleach per five gallons of water
If water is cloudy, double the recommended amount of Clorox Bleach.

Only use Regular Clorox Bleach (not Fresh Scent or Lemon Fresh). To insure that Clorox Bleach is at its full strength, rotate or replace your storage bottle minimally every three months.

We have three 55 gallon drums of water in our basement. We actually bought them long before we knew anything about Berkey Water Purifiers. We cleaned and rinsed them very thoroughly and then put double the recommend about of chlorine bleach in them and filled them to the top. We doubled the bleach because we knew we had no intention of using the water unless we really had to. The water is still there (several years later) and sits undisturbed. When/If we ever need it, we will run it through our Berkey first. Not just as a precaution, but also to get rid of all the chlorine and that awful taste.

If I were to do the same process today… the only difference would be that I would run it through the Berkey to fill the drums first… and then, again, when/if we ever need to use it.

We are also authorized dealers for this product (we really like it… especially for portability)

AQUATANK-2 Water Storage Tank / Bladder

Emergency Water Sources—When You Run Out

There’s actually quite a bit of water in your home if you know where to look for it. In extreme circumstances, consider the following water sources:

• Water beds hold up to 300 gallons of water.
• Toilet tanks hold several gallons (do not use if a disinfectant has been added).
• Water pipes in your home. Be sure to close the main valve outside so contaminated city water does not enter your system.
• Melt ice cubes from your refrigerator.
• Canned foods, peaches for example, contain juices made up primarily of water.
• Most water heaters hold 30-70 gallons.
• Rainwater and snow.
• Flowing water such as streams, ditches, or canals.

Avoid (when possible) still water, floodwater, salt water, and sources with floating debris, feces, or a strong odor.

Water Purification

It’s a sound practice to purify all water both before and after stockpiling it to guard against contamination during storage. Always purify water acquired from the emergency sources listed above.

The quickest and most efficient way to ensure your water is pure, clean, and odor free is to use a Berkey Purification System. You can even make an effective homemade water purifier with as few as one Black Berkey Purification Elements.

Other, less efficient purification methods include boiling water for at least five minutes provided you have a large metal container, the needed fuel, and enough time to do it. Chemicals used to purify water include iodine, iodide, chlorine, and chlorine bleach. Each of these methods works, but also leaves a taste and an odor in your water. The “nasties” will be dead, but the water is no longer pure… just drinkable. You’d still want to run it through your Berkey to get rid of whatever substance you used to purify your water before drinking it.

Your Safety is Your Responsibility

If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because you care about your family’s safety, especially during an emergency. Be proactive and take matters into your own hands by storing your own water. Better yet, go one step further and use a Berkey Purification System so you can keep the pure water flowing when your well or city water becomes unavailable.

All the Best,


About Bill Hanover

I am and do many things: A child of God, the father of 8, a Lean Manufacturing Consultant, Hold a Masters Degree in Psychology and help many people prepare for emergencies by hooking them up with emergency water purifiers and other supplies. I am a proud and grateful citizen of the United States of America and deeply appreciate all who sustain her! Google+

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