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Water Storage
- Andrea Chapman, UT
"Let us be as the wise virgins and have our lamps full"
                                    Matthew 25: 13
Water is your number one priority to keeping alive.  You can live without food for quite a while, but water is almost as necessary as oxygen! Even storing a 3 days supply for you and your family will help a great deal, as water is usually the first thing contaminated in a natural disaster. I highly recommend keeping a way to purify water on hand too as it is nearly impossible to have a years supply store in your home!


Start with 2 gallons of water per day per person. 1
(Keep in mind that if you storing dehydrated foods, you will require more.)

Civil defense authorities recommend that each family store at least 2 weeks worth of water.  So if you are a family of 5, you will need a minimum of 140 gallons stored safely in your home.

Store water from the source you are currently using, so that flavor and such is the same as your family are used to.  Tap water is normally good for long term storage since it already chlorinated if you live in a municipal area.  You can use empty, CLEAN, 2-liter soda bottles and make sure the cap is screwed on tightly.  55 gallon blue barrels work best with a pump, purchased separately, for about $35.  We personally purchase osmosis filtered water from the store my husband manages and we store those in the 15 gallon containers that we use for our Water Cooler. Those bottles cost about $20 a piece and you fill them for a couple of dollars.

Do NOT use empty milk containers or other containers that you buy filled with liquids, as those are biodegradable and will fall apart in about 6 months.

In an emergency, it is very likely that your normal source of water will be contaminated. Sometimes contaminated water looks murky and dirty, other times it looks fine. Do NOT try to ingest contaminated water...  if there has been a natural disaster in your area, assume the water is contaminated.  You may wish to use coffee filters over a jar to pour through and filter out any 'sludge' or dirt that is obvious.

This will kill harmful bacteria but it much be heated to its evaporation point (212 F, or 100 C at sea level) to be effective.  Make sure you boil the water (at a rolling boil) for 10 minutes and add 1 minute for each 1000 feet of elevation. This will render it potable/drinkable.  Boiling will not destroy radioactivity if that is a concern.  And it does use a lot of fuel/energy that might also be scarce.

Make certain that the bleach you use contains ONLY sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient.
Add 6 drops bleach to 1 gallon/1/2 tsp. to 5 gallons etc. Let this stand for 30 minutes after shaking or stirring to mix.  It should have a distinct chlorine smell to it, if not, add the same dosage again to the water and allow it to stand an additional 20 mins. Chlorine will NOT purify the water.  It will render the water potable by neutralizing some of the toxic animal and plant life in the water.

Tincture of Iodine (2%):
This can be used to treat SMALL amounts of water. Be sure to stir iodine thoroughly into water. Iodine treated water should not be used by pregnant or nursing individuals, or those with thyroid problems.  Add 12 drops of iodine to 1 gallon of water.

You can also buy water treatment tablets, and these are good to store with your food storage.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Regardless of the method of chemically disinfecting water, always double the dosage for cloudy water.  If the water temperature is cold, below 45 degrees, let it stand for one hour before using it.

Water that is bacteria free and store in thoroughly clean containers will remain safe for many years.  It is always best to rotate on a regular basis, and just fill the container up again each time. (Added in 2015) you can revive 'flat' tasting water by pouring it from one container to another, back and forth to get oxygen in it again. Bev)

If you need water for bathing and washing etc, you can use water from water beds, your hot water heater, toilet tanks and cysterns - this can also be purified and used to drink.

 Related Links



Essentials of Home Production and Storage - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
* "Emergency Food and Water Supplies-family protection brochure" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
(FEMA-215/March 1992)