Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Storing Water

I decided to put this towards the top of the "food storage lessons" because water is the most critical portion of your food storage. We can live without food for much longer than we can live without water. In doing research about water storage, I went directly to USU extension services. I love them! They seem to have all the answers for any type of food storage question. Before you worry about shelves, getting your grains, sugars, etc, your first priority really needs to be water. The following is contributed by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences agent, Washington County, Utah:

Most often, the safety of our domestic water supply is of little concern. However, situations may occur when the water supply may be cut off or damaged. Consider this information for water storage and use in emergency situations.
• It is recommended that you store a gallon of water per person per day for drinking. One quart of water will sustain life, but you will likely not be as comfortable. You will also need additional water for washing. It is recommended that you store a minimum of a three-day supply of water, per person, but it would be best to have a two-week supply in your home for each family member.
• When drinkable water is properly disinfected and stored, it should have an indefinite shelf life, but to maintain the optimum drinking quality, water should be rotated every six months.
• Storage containers should be “food grade,” meaning they were meant to hold food or water. This includes containers made of glass, plastic, stainless steel or metals coated for food and water storage. They should have secure lids and spouts to allow dispensing without contamination.
• Clean all containers with soap, water and rinse well. Sanitize container and lid with one tablespoon bleach per gallon of water, shake well, empty container and allow to air dry. Juice and milk jugs may not be effective, as they may leak and may contain proteins and sugars from the previous foods. Two-liter pop containers are less likely to leak or hold residues. Do not store containers by materials that may leach into them. Store water containers off the ground and cement in a cool, dark place. Store a few containers in a freezer to provide ice if the electricity goes off.
• Most city-treated water is safe for storage without additives, but to ensure the storage of quality water, use a chlorine or heat treatment. To treat with chlorine, unscented, liquid bleach may be added to disinfect. Add eight drops, or 1/8 teaspoon bleach, to one gallon of water. To treat with heat, fill clean quart Mason jars and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. This provides a way to have safe drinking water and also use jars that may be sitting empty.
• Purchased bottled water is a quick and convenient way of getting a water supply; however, it is not considered to be safer or purer than city-treated water.
• In an emergency, you may need additional water. If this becomes necessary, use water from pipes, ice cubes or your hot water heater. Only use water from swimming pools, toilet tanks or waterbeds as a last resort and then only for purposes other than drinking since chemicals may be present.
• In some emergency situations, you may need to treat or purify contaminated water, such as that from lakes, runoff, streams or ground water. To do this, boil water for five minutes, cool, then pour back and forth to improve taste. Chemical treatments may also be effective. A chlorine treatment of 1/4 teaspoon or 16 drops of unscented bleach may be used. Allow the water to sit for 30 minutes, then check for cloudiness. If it is cloudy, repeat the chemical treatment and let stand for 15 minutes. A slight chlorine odor should be present. If the water does not become clear, do not use it. Note the difference in treatment and purification amounts of bleach. For a treatment, use eight drops per gallon; for purification, use 16 drops.
• Water purification tablets are another option. Be sure to note their shelf life. Commercial water treatment units may also be used. Follow directions carefully and note the additional treatments that may be needed. Be aware that there is no effective way to decontaminate water that contains radioactive chemicals or fallout.
Water storage is important to your survival in the event of an emergency. Being prepared is critical. Additional preparedness information is available through your local USU Extension county office.

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  1. Storing water this way is *really* dangerous and takes up a lot of space. A better solution, IMO, is to get a quality water filter, which will filter lake/pond/puddle water safely.

    The AquaRain gravity water filter, for example, will filter up to 32,000 gallons and uses NO energy. See

  2. I think filters are a great idea. However, IMO every household should have at least a 2 week supply of stored water.

  3. I beg to differ on the water quality of bottled water vs. city-treated water. Typically city treated water uses fluoride and other chemicals that can hurt a persons body long term. A good water supply will not have these chemicals in them. Well water is better, and if you have the chance to drill a well and have the water tested for purity, you should do so. Filters are great if they can also filter out fluoride.

  4. It's really not a bad idea to try using softside waterbeds as a form of water storage. As long as you change the water occasionally then it should be fine. Great work on posting about storing water.