Emergency Water Supply

Author:
MemorialCare Disaster VAT
Live Healthy Topics:
Emergency Water Supply

TASK: Prepare and store a 72-hour supply of water for all household members.

How Much Water:

You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day, or at least three gallons per person for a 72-hour supply. Additional amounts may be appropriate based on the following considerations:

  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • Consider additional water for pets, depending on size.

If storage space permits, store more than you believe you will need.

How to Store Emergency Water:

To prepare the safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended that you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not break the seal until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date.

If you are preparing your own containers of water:
It is recommended that you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage. Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap remaining. (Follow directions below on filling the container with water.)

If you choose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.

If storing water in plastic soda bottles, follow these steps:
Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of one teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Filling Water Containers:

Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non- scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so that you know when you filled it. Store in a cool, dark place. Replace the water every six months if not using commercially bottled water.

Water Purification:

If you need to purify water and do not have any purification tablets or are unable to boil water for 10 minutes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest the following:

If water is clear:
For one gallon of water add eight drops of bleach.
For five gallons of water add 1/2 teaspoon of bleach.

If water is cloudy:
For one gallon of water add sixteen drops of bleach.
For five gallons of water add one teaspoon of bleach.

Use liquid chlorine bleach (5.25% hypochlorite). Wait 30 minutes before drinking.