Water storage methods should be at the top of any preppers to do list. Aside from air, water is the resource you are going to need above everything else.
The Rule Of Three that we covered in a previous article states that you can only survive for three days without water. Three days reduces quickly in hot environments or if you are exerting yourself. Because of this, water storage should be number one on your prepping list. It is a very blunt point but needs to be said. You will die, quickly, without fresh water to drink.
The human body – by weight – is over 60% water. As a result, a steady supply of clean water is essential. Without sufficient hydration, your body will no longer be able to remove waste, digest food, produce energy or perspire. Typically, your body needs roughly 1.5 litres per day to function effectively.
When faced with the task of prepping water storage, the first thing you should do is calculate how much water you will need to keep. You must allow enough water storage for you and your family for drinking. You must also allow enough water storage to cover other needs, such as hygiene and sanitation. First aid will also likely need fresh water to bathe wounds and treat burns.
Why Do You Need To Store Water?
Multiple types of disaster can happen around the world. All of them have the potential to infiltrate or contaminate the water supply.
- Nuclear Fallout
- Chemical Attacks (terrorism)
- Faulty Grid
Above all else, you need drinking water. While bugging in, you are likely to be exerting yourself, making ready to sit out the storm. For that reason, allow an extra 0.5 litre, per person, per day. Personal requirements, therefore, will be 2 litres. In addition to this, allow a further 2 litres of water storage, per person, per day for hygiene and sanitation.
((Number Of People x 4 litres) x Number Of Days) = Total Storage Required
- Family of 2, 4 weeks supply = (2 people x 4 litres = 8 litres per day) x 28 days = 224 litres
- Family of 4, 12 weeks supply = (4 people x 4 litres = 16 litres per day) x 84 days = 1344 litres
If you are prepping for a flood (or similar) that could temporarily shut down the grid, we recommend a two week supply. If you are prepping for a long term disaster, then this should be increased to one year, space and funds allowing.
Types Of Water Storage
Smaller water storage containers are better suited to prepping in urban areas. Apartment blocks and densely packed housing doesn’t allow for large tank storage. Therefore, where space is limited, you will be restricted to a smaller water storage system. Don’t buy bottles that are too small. Water bottles designed for bottled water dispensers are ideal for this purpose. These bottles are usually around 15 litres.
The advantage of smaller water storage in smaller sizes is that you can buy them prefilled. They will also have a date on showing their shelf life.
When planning water storage for a family, you need to think bigger. Large stores will suit farms, larger estates and those with more spare land available. 55-gallon food grade barrels are an ideal next step. These barrels have the advantage of a tight fitting and sealed lid. The drawback of these and other large storage containers is their weight when full. Once filled with water, you cannot move barrels without mechanical aids.
Large water storage kits are available that can hold up to 10,000 gallons. However, they come at a cost. It is always better to start small when prepping, and then build up to something bigger. Get enough small water storage to last a few months if you cannot initially afford a larger system. After this, you can then start to save for the bigger tanks.
Care is needed when using tap water in stainless steel tanks, as the chlorine present in the water can corrode the inside. Large plastic tanks are going to be cheaper and potentially safer in the long run.
Rain Water Tanks
You can reduce clean water storage volume using rainwater stores. Although not drinkable, especially if flood water has tainted the mains, they are useful. Use rainwater for toilet flushing and watering home-grown produce. Unless you have a filtration system available, do not drink rainwater.
Good Practice For Water Storage
- Rotate smaller storage bottles month by month. Use the oldest first, then replace with new to keep the store fresh.
- Keep water storage bottles away from heat. Heat causes chemicals from the container to leak into the water and contaminate it.
- Buy water little and often when prepping.
- Don’t store your water supply near fuel. Hydrocarbons can seep through the containers and contaminate your supply.
- Use only filtered water if you need to refill your bottles or larger water storage.
- Date mark refilled bottles, so you know when to use them.
- Pump your water using a small hand pump, rather than inverting the bottles. Less hand contact is key to no contamination. Spillages will also be less likely.
- Remember, tap water is already chlorinated, so it will have a long shelf life if sealed.
- Never rely on buying water from shops after the event. Everybody will be doing this.
- Never use a garden hose to fill containers. Food grade hose is available.
- Build your supply slowly. Rotate your stocks better by keeping the dates staggered.
- The oldest water in you stockpile needs to be less than 12 months old.
Have Backups Available
Whatever you do, or whatever your store, luck will dictate that it probably won’t be enough. Have a backup plan ready to provide you with fresh water. Hand filter pumps are useful but produce a small volume of water. Small hand pumps must be used only for emergencies. They are not suitable for a primary means of water provision.
Keep a plentiful supply of water purification tablets on hand. If you do have to resort to rainwater and you are sure that the supply isn’t tainted, the tablets can be the difference between life and death. Purification tablets typically have a long shelf life, are inexpensive and take up very little space.
Keep a few bottles of standard, unscented household bleach. Use the bleach to purify water in an emergency.