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Storing Water Long-Term, The Right Way

Perhaps the only thing more important than food in a long-term emergency is water.  Even the food you do have probably needs water to be cooked and eaten – especially dried beans and grains. Seriously, have you ever tried to bite into a dried bean? What is even more concerning is that water can be “bad” without anyone ever knowing it until it is too late. Crystal clear water can have dangerous bacteria growing in it, chemical run-off [1], high levels of lead, mercury, or even arsenic!

Even if you store perfectly good water, storing it in the wrong way will mean that when you really need it, you will find yourself drinking poison rather than water. Just as critical as knowing how to store water, is knowing how not to store water.

What NOT to Use

How Much to Store

water-bottlesHow much water you need will largely depend on a variety of factors:

Store at least one gallon of water, per person, per day. Consider this an absolute base-line though, as many of the above considerations could up your family water needs considerably. If you live in a desert area, with little local water, women in your family who may be pregnant or nursing, children, and a couple pets, you will want to triple that amount, or more.

Storage Options

Even if you are not sure how much you will eventually need, it is best to start somewhere and store what you can. One easy way to do this is just to buy a few cases of bottled water and store them away from heat and light (which can cause the plastic to leech chemicals into the water).

Ultra Efficient Water Filter Fits In Your Pocket! [2]

Beyond that, you can start a more aggressive plan to provide clean water to your family in the event of an emergency.

Rotating Water Supplies

How often you need to rotate your water supplies will depend largely on how well you are able to store them. If you are using any kind of plastic containers, or if the containers are not in a somewhat temperature-controlled space or exposed to light from time to time, do not store the water in them for more than 6 months.

In ideal storage conditions (sterilized stainless steel drums with clean water in a temperature-controlled environment) you may be able to store water for up to three years before it will need to be rotated.

Ideally, do not use the water you are rotating out for drinking water. A container should be used within a short period of time after being opened, so drinking a 50-gallon drum of water in time will be a challenge. Instead, use this water as “gray” water for watering plants, washing and cleaning, or even filling up the kiddie pool in the summer.

Long Term Solutions

In any extended emergency, you will need to find other ways to obtain and treat water, such as a pond, lake, well, or even through rain collection. To give you time to do this, and in order to have water on hand for getting out of dodge if need be, make sure you have a water storage plan in place to provide at least a couple weeks of water for your family. You will be glad you did!