How to Store Water Long-Term: An In-Depth Guide to Water Storage

Having enough stored water can be life-saving in the case of an emergency or disaster. Learn how to store water for the long-term with our full guide.

Water Storage Water Storage

Having a good amount of water stored in your home or on your property can be life-saving in the case of an emergency or natural disaster. But how long can you store it? And how much should you store?

Learn more about long-term water storage with our full guide!

How Much Emergency Water Do You Need?

If you've ever seen the show Doomsday Preppers, then you already know that finding out how much water you need before you have to "bug out" is key. The minimum number to have on hand is one gallon of water per day per person. While half of it will be used for hygiene purposes, the other half will be used for drinking.

Of course, this number depends on a bunch of factors. For instance, if you live in a really hot place or have nursing mothers with you, then you may need more water storage.

According to experts, having enough water storage to last for several days is the smartest way to go. With three days of water storage, you should have enough to get through a short period of water contamination or shutoff, which can happen during disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, ice storms, and others.

Although this is a great place to start, your water access might be turned off for a much longer amount of time. To prepare for the worst, there's nothing wrong with having at least 14 days worth of stored water on your property.

So, if you live alone, you should store at least 14 gallons of water in the event of a natural disaster. If you have a family or roommates, multiply that number by the number of people living in your household. For example, a family of four should store at least 56 gallons of water.

Whether you decide to store water for three days or two weeks or even longer is up to you. The limiting factor could be your budget or the amount of room you have to store water.

Long-Term Ways to Store Water

For long-term water storage, you need to have clear containers such as food-grade plastic bottles or clean glass bottles that haven't had non-food items inside of them.

Even though stainless steel is another popular option, you won't be able to perform a chlorine treatment on your water due to steel corrosion.

The most essential rule is to use water storage containers that you can properly seal, so that no contamination or bacteria can get in.

If you're starting out with a two-week storage supply, you can purchase plastic bottled water from your local store. Although this is a slightly more expensive and not-so-green method, it's also an easy way to maintain a healthy quota of water storage because the bottles are well-sealed, clean, and made of food-grade plastic.

On the other hand, if you want to do your part for the environment, you can clean out and reuse the following:

  • Empty soda bottles
  • Empty water bottles
  • Empty Gatorade bottles
  • 5 to 7-gallon water jugs

For those with large families or those planning even longer-term water storage, here are some excellent options:

Storing Water in 55-Gallon Barrels

For families of four, two 55-gallon barrels are enough to supply you with almost a month's worth of water. That should be more than enough to last you through anything short of an all-out apocalypse.

Complete with bungs at the top and made of food-grade plastic, these big barrels can be sealed to protect your supply from water contamination.

If possible, put your barrels on a wood pallet to prevent chemical reactions between the cement and the water. And, rather than using a traditional garden hose, purchase a specialty drinking house to fill up the barrels.

Another option is to treat your drinking supply with chlorine drops to avoid bacteria growth and algae. (More on that in the next section.)

Although there's a lot to like about water barrels, there are still a few cons. First things first, they take up a lot of space. For those who live in rental apartments, chances are there won't be enough room to store even a single 55-gallon water barrel.

On top of that, it can be pricey to fill up these barrels too, depending on how much you pay for tap water. Buying a specialty pump and drinking water hose is needed to fill and use them later as well.

Lastly, since each barrel can weigh up to 450 pounds, they're definitely not portable. You need other lightweight options in addition to your barrels in case you really need to "bug out" quickly.

FAQs About Water Storage

Does my water supply need to be rotated every year?

It's a good idea, but it's not an absolute requirement because properly stored and sealed water doesn't spoil, won't have any algae or bacterial growth, and has no expiration date.

Should I treat my water supply with chlorine before sealing and storing it?

This is a popular practice, but it's unnecessary if you're using treated city water because it's already chlorinated. However, if you'll have greater peace of mind by adding chlorine, go right ahead.

Another idea is to add chlorine when you open your water source: 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine drops per gallon of stored water.

Do I need to boil my water before drinking it?

If you unseal your water and suspect that it's contaminated, then you should definitely boil it. If it's been properly sealed (and chlorinated), you shouldn't need to boil it, and doing so will waste your fuel.

What if my stored water tastes funny?

It's could be contamination, but that's not necessarily the case. Due to the lack of oxygen, your stored water may taste weird and flat once you drink it. To reduce the bad taste, swish around your water in a cup for several times before drinking it.

Never Worry About Water Storage Again

Having at least two weeks' water supply is ideal for emergency preparedness. But, if your budget or lack of space are holding you back, don't stress! We encourage you to start storing whatever amount you can, even if it's just a gallon or two. And then, whenever you can, build up your supply. It doesn't need to all be done immediately.

Want to learn more about water issues? Don't hesitate to check out our blog today!

In this post: water storage, long-term water storage