The human body can survive for weeks without food, but it cannot survive very long without water. The recommended amount of water you should have stored in order to survive a 2 week period if your water supply was cut off is 14 gallons per person.
- 1 person family: 14 gallons
- 2 person family: 28 gallons
- 4 person family: 56 gallons
- 5 person family: 70 gallons
- 6 person family (ME!): 86 gallons
- 10 person family: 140 gallons
This would only provide for your basic survival needs. It is only 1 gallon per person per day. When you think of all the ways in which you use water each day: washing your hands, flushing the toilet, brushing your teeth, cooking, doing dishes, laundry, showers etc, you realize that 1 gallon a day isn’t much at all. If you can, you should store more and/or purchase a water purification system.
Here are a few tips:
- If storing water outside, make sure to store it in opaque containers (such as the blue 55 gallon drums) so no light can get in.
- Store water in containers in a variety of sizes. For example, large drums work well unless you have to leave your home. 16.9 oz water bottles work well unless you need a sink full of water to bathe or wash dishes in.
- If you do store water in large drums, make sure you store a siphon so you can effectively get the water out.
- If storing water inside, you can use soda, gatorade, or juice bottles etc as long as they aren’t exposed to light. Do not use milk bottles or refrigerated juice bottles.
- Make sure all used containers are very well cleaned before storing drinking water in them.
- Do not store water containers directly on cement.
- As an extra precaution you can add 1/8 tsp bleach to every gallon of water you store.
- If you are concerned about the taste of bleach treated water (especially if you have kids), store powdered drink mixes to help mask that taste.
- If you do not want to treat your water with bleach (I do not), be sure you rotate it every six months, and store a filter.
- Clearly label all containers “drinking water.”
- Even if treated with bleach, try to rotate your stored drinking water every 6-18 months.
- Store a water filter so that if your stored water is contaminated for any reason (or you haven’t been able to rotate it), you will still be able to use it.
- When storing water for cleaning purposes, it can be stored in old cleaning/laundry/soap bottles (don’t rinse them out) and will be ready to use. Just make sure you mark it as cleaning water so that no one drinks it.
- Keep all water away from stored gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, or similar substances.
- It can be a good idea to store a few containers of water in the freezer to help keep food frozen should the power go out for a period of time.
Some tips for using your water during an emergency:
- If supplies run low, DO NOT ration your water. Drink what you need today (2 quarts for most people, more if extremely hot, pregnant or nursing) and try to find more tomorrow.
- Minimize the amount of water you need by reducing activity and staying cool.
- If you have not stored enough water, you can usually find 30-60 gallons of water in your water heater (as long as public water is still considered safe). Make sure to treat it with bleach (1/8 tsp per gallon) first!
- You can also use the water in the reservoir tank of your toilets (not the bowl) if treated with bleach first.
- Canned fruits and vegetable also contain water that you can use to hydrate yourself.
As a supplement to stored water, you can also store water purifiers. These can be taken with you if you need to leave home and can also be used to treat pool water or other public water sources that may have been contaminated.
For more information on water storage and treatment, visit FEMA