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Water Storage Options

Emergency Essentials - April 03, 2012

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In most emergency situations, fresh drinking water is the most important item you can store. Learn your options for portable and stationary water storage.

It is recommended to have both portable and stationary emergency water storage. Portable water containers should be light enough to carry during an emergency. Be sure to take into consideration that water weighs 8 lbs per gallon. Preparedness authorities recommend storing at least 14 gallons of water per person. This would mean a family of 4 would want to store approximately 56 gallons of water (remember to store both stationary and portable). There are many types of containers and options available for storing water for long term. 

Water Storage Containers 
Heavy-duty, thick, polyethylene barrels, made of food grade materials, are great for water storage. These barrels are normally blue (color is important, blue means water is being stored, red would mean fuel or flammable liquid is being stored, and colors other than blue may not be food grade plastic) and normally come in sizes that range from 15 to 55 gallons. It is recommended to store these barrels in a dark and cool area, such as a basement or food storage room. Storing your barrel outside could have an effect on the life of the barrel. It is not recommended to store any water container in direct or indirect sunlight. Also, it is best to store water barrels with a non-pourous insulation barrier (such as wood) between the cement and the barrel. 

It is not recommended to store a barrel outside, but if you have to, it is recommended to take certain necessary precautions. Cover it as much as possible to prevent exposure to light, ensure cleanliness and for insulation purposes. During the winter you have to take into account the freezing factor. When water freezes it expands. If there is not enough room at the top of your barrel, it can cause your barrel to become disfigured or may even crack. It is recommended to only fill the barrel 9/10 the way full if you plan on storing it in a place where there is a potential of freezing. 

One of the best water storage options is the metalized plastic bag in a boxed water kit. The metalized bag is filled with water and then placed in a cardboard box. The water is kept from light, limiting any bacteria or algae growth. These kits are great because they offer an easy to use and versatile portable water system. The boxes can double as a sanitation kit (emergency toilet) and a carrying case for transporting water. 

A smaller version of the metalized water bag system is the water pouch or box of purified drinking water. Each pouch contains approximately four ounces of water that can be stored for more than five years. This would be an alternative to heavier containers as a minimum ration for small children. These small pouches may not be as convenient for large amounts of water. 

Two-liter pop or juice bottles are also a good option for inexpensive water storage. Be sure to clean them well and store in a cool and dark area. Light and warmth will promote algae and bacteria growth. Over time these water containers can breakdown and leak. It is recommended to not store them next to food or other items that can be damaged by water. Heavy containers should always be stored close to ground level and secured to prevent breakage or possible injury in the event of any earthquake or natural disaster. Be sure to store these water containers away from any harmful chemicals. Rotate the water once a year. It is not recommended to use milk jugs. These jugs are biodegradable and can break down within a short period of time. 

Tips and Suggestions
-Water can be found during an emergency from several different places around the house including the water heater, ice cubes in freezer, and as a last resort, the reservoir tank in your toilet (not the bowl).

-Treat water with bleach before you use your water during an emergency. It is recommended to use 4 drops of bleach per quart of water.
Rotate your water once a year for freshness. Choose a month that is convenient for you.
Water containers can be stored in many different places such as closets, underneath beds, etc.

-Glass containers are not recommended for water store because they can easily break during an emergency.

-Available water filters and purifiers treat from 26 to as much as 39,000 gallons of water. These items are a must to have in addition to your portable and stationary water storage to ensure enough water for your family.

-If space and money is a concern, start small and gradually build your water storage as you build your food storage.

-If: 

A) the water is free of microorganisms,
B) the container is made of food grade materials,
C) the container is clean and tightly closed,
D) the container is kept from sunlight,

then it will remain safe indefinitely.

© Emergency Essentials for LDS Living, 2012.
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