Monday, April 26, 2010

Storing Water

How much water should I store?
It is recommended to have a two-week supply of water on hand.

How much is a two-week supply of water?
That depends on the family. There should be enough drinking water for each person to have two quarts of water each day.
So, a two week supply of water for one person would be 28 quarts.

In addition, there should be water stored for cooking, for washing dishes, washing hands, brushing teeth, bathing and cleaning.
Some families may have additional needs, such as pets, or water for gardens.

What is the best container to use for water storage?
A 55- gallon drum is an excellent place to store a large amount of water.
The drum will weigh 400 pounds when full, so a basement is a good place to store it.
Also, you will need a special wrench to open it, and a hand-pump or siphon for removing the water.

Where can I purchase a 55-gallon drum?
For local purchase: Look under "Barrels" in the Yellow Pages for retailers that sale these drums. Call and ask if they sell 55-gallon, plastic, food-grade, "tight-head" (not "open-top") drums. There are several retailers in the Kansas City area.
For mail order: Do an internet search for drums. There are many companies, such as Emergency Essentials ( which will ship them to your home.
Remember to also purchase a bung wrench and a siphon pump.

What other containers can I use?
There are many good containers. Even if you have a 55-gallon drum of water, it is still a good idea to also store some water in smaller, more portable containers, too. Many supermarkets sell containers for water storage such as these:

You can also use containers previously used to store liquid, such as gallon size juice containers or 2-liter soda bottles. Rinse them out and fill them with water.
Individual water bottles are also a good way to store water. These are especially useful for Emergency Kits.

Are there any containers I shouldn't use for water storage?
Yes. Milk jugs are not good for water storage because the plastic deteriorates over time and the containers will leak.
Also, never use containers that previously held toxic or non-food substances.

What should I look for when purchasing water containers for storage?
Food-grade containers made of sturdy plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers.

Where should I store the water in my home?
The best place would be somewhere dark and cool. This best preserves the quality and the taste.
However, you could store water anywhere--basements, closets, kitchen cupboards, etc.

Should I treat the water before I store it?
If your water comes from a commercially-treated water facility (such as tap water used by most city residents), then you will not need to treat your water before storing it.

What else should I do to stored water?
Seal the containers tightly and label them.

Do I need to rotate water storage?
Yes, but only after several years. Then, you can empty the water on your garden or lawn, and refill the containers with fresh water.

What if the water becomes contaminated and I need to purify it?
Water stored properly shouldn't become contaminated. However, it is a good idea to store some method for purifying water, just in case, because contaminated water can cause disease.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) recommends these three easy methods for purifying water:
"Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth. Three easy purification methods are outlined below. These measures will kill microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, most other chemicals and radioactive fallout.
BOILING is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.
CHLORINATION uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms. Add two drops of bleach per quart of water (or four drops if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand 30 minutes. If the water does not taste and smell of chlorine at that point, add another dose and let stand another 15 minutes.
PURIFICATION TABLETS release chlorine or iodine. They are inexpensive and available at most sporting goods stores and some drugstores. Follow the package directions. Usually one tablet is enough for one quart of water. Double the dose for cloudy water."
("Are You Ready?...An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness" is published by FEMA. Call 1-800-480-2520 for a free copy or go to for more information).

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