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The Importance of Uncontaminated Water

Disaster Preparation

One of the top priorities in an emergency is having enough uncontaminated water. Everyone’s needs for water may be different. Factors that come into play are age, physical condition, activity, diet and the geographical location you live in. Normally, most people need to drink at least two quarts 64 ounces or eight cups, of water each day.

Environments where temperatures are high can double the amount needed as the body uses water for cooling. Children, nursing women, and ill people will need more water.

Additional water will be needed for hygiene and food preparation. Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day. If you have pets, allow 1 quart per day for each dog or cat. While storing at least a 72 hour supply is recommended; you should consider storing a two-week supply if you have space for it.

What Types of Containers are Safe for Storage?

  • Food grade plastic or glass containers with tight fitting screw-on caps.
  • 2-liter soda bottles and other water or juice containers.
  • New plastic containers for water storage can be found in local stores.
  • Only purchase containers labeled for storage of food or beverages.
  • Containers not labeled for food or beverage storage could release harmful chemicals into the water.

Avoid These Containers for Water

  • Containers that have held toxic substances, because trace amounts may remain in the container's pores
  • Containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles
  • Older glass jars may contains lead

Wash the containers and lids thoroughly with hot tap water and dish detergent then rinse thoroughly with hot tap water. You do not need to boil water before storing it.

How to Treat the Water for Storage

To treat water for storage, use liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 5.25% available chlorine.

Do not use bleach with soaps or scents added. Add the unscented bleach to water, stir and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Always use a sterile dropper. The treated water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it does not, then repeat the process.

Bleach to Water Ratios

Drops of Bleach Traditional Measurement of Bleach Amount of Water
4 Drops 1/16 Teaspoon 1 Quart / 1 Liter
8 Drops 1/8 Teaspoon 2 Quart / 2 Liter / 1/2 Gallon
16 Drops 1/4 Teaspoon 4 Liters / Gallon
32 Drops 1/2 Teaspoon 8 Liters / 2 Gallons
64 Drops 1 Teaspoon 16 Liters / 4 Gallons
192 Drops 1 Tablespoon 48 Liters / 12 Gallons
384 Drops 1/8 Cup or 2 Tablespoons 288 Liters / 50 Gallons

Where Should I Store the Water and For How Long?

Containers should be stored in a cool and dry place because containers can degrade over time due to heat and light. Hydrocarbon vapors can penetrate polyethylene plastics so store water in plastic containers away from gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, or comparable material.

A gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds so make sure the shelves or area in which you store the water is strong enough to support the weight.

For commercially bottled distilled or drinking water, check the label for an expiration date. If not, mot should have a shelf-life of at least one year.

Another way to store water is to place it in a container in the freezer. It will help to keep frozen foods safe until power is restored. Leave 2 to 3 inches of air space in the top of containers before freezing. This will keep the container from breaking as water expands during freezing. Do not use glass containers because they may break regardless of the air space that is allowed.