30 Days of Emergency Water

Everyone should have 30 days of emergency water stored. The average person living under average conditions needs one gallon of water per day. One gallon is just an average. People, who were completely sedentary in a lifeboat, have lasted weeks on only one quart of water per day. If you are in a very hot, humid environment where a lot of physical exertion is required, you may need two gallons of water per day to keep hydrated. The quantities listed above don’t include any water for rehydrating food, cooking or washing. Every person need to decide how much water they need for 30 days based on their personal situation. Check out “Water – Part 1” for storing and treating your 30-day emergency supply.

What if potable water is still not available after 30-days, then what? That situation is more common than you may think. I will talk about Intermediate-Term (up to 3 months) Water Storage in this article Water – Part 2 and then Long-Term (over 3 months) Water Storage in “Water – Part 3.

Intermediate-Term Water Storage
Water is heavy and bulky. One gallon of water weighs over 8 lbs and takes up more room than a #10 can (a #10 can is about 7/8 gallon). The heavy and bulky characteristics of water can make it difficult to store, especially if you have limited space.

If you have room, I suggest you store 3 months of water. The first 30 gallons is smaller containers, 7 gallon or smaller and the remaining 60 gallons in a bulk storage container.
A quick note about my storage. I have a 30 day supply of food made up of grocery store canned foods. Most of these canned items don’t need any additional water to be eaten. I have added more water to my 30 day supply for a little cooking and washing. My 30 day emergency water supply is 40 gallons per person.

If an emergency lasts more than 30 days, my extended food storage contains freeze-dried and dehydrate food so I need more water for rehydrating and cooking. Additionally, during a 30 day emergency, most people have enough clothing that very little washing would be needed. Emergencies lasting longer than 30 days would necessitate washing clothing which would require additional water. I’ll talk about using non-potable water or gray-water to wash clothing in a future post.

My Intermediate-Water Storage consists of (additional 2 months supply to add to my 30 day supply) 2 gallons per person per day or 120 gallons per person stored in 55 gallon plastic barrels.
Let’s talk about storage containers for your intermediate water supply.

Bottled Water – You can store cases of bottled water. Each case is 3 gallons so 40 cases would take care of one person for 2 months. The advantage is that they are easy to obtain and easy to move around. The disadvantage is that they are expensive and take up more room than bulk containers.

5 gallon and 7 gallon containers – You could also just add more 5 gallon and 7 gallon containers like we talked about in “Water –Part 1”. I see 5 gallon opaque plastic containers on sale for around $4 (use only if you store in a dark area). Wal-Mart has 7 gallon Aqua-Tainers made by Reliance for less than $11. You would need 24 of the 5 gallon containers or 18 of the 7 gallon containers per person. The advantage is that they are somewhat easy to move around. The disadvantage is that they take up more room than bulk containers.

55 Gallon Plastic Barrels – These are a pretty good compromise between cost and storage room. Buy the ones that are blue plastic. You can buy the opaque plastic if you store them in the dark. You can usually find used barrels for $20 – $25. Make sure they can be used for potable water and didn’t originally contain chemicals. Food grade plastic will have the Recycle Symbol with a “2” in the middle and the letters HDPE or PE-HD under the symbol.

New barrels will cost between $40 and $50. A local store recently had them on sale for $30 each so I bought 3 more even though I don’t know where I’ll put them but I’ll find a place. The advantage is that they take up less room than other storage methods. The disadvantage is that they are heavy when full (over 450 lbs). You will also need to buy a pump to get the water out ($10) and a barrel wrench ($4) to tighten and loosen the cap.

I talked about how much chlorine bleach to add to small water containers in “Water – Part 1”. When storing water in 55 gallon containers, add ¼ cup of Chlorine Bleach to each 55 Gallon Barrel.
A quick word about storage surface, don’t place plastic storage containers directly on concrete. The chemical content of the concrete will break down the plastic. Place some wood 2x4s on the concrete and place the barrels or other plastic on the 2x4s.

IBC – Intermediate Bulk Containers – These are plastic containers that have a metal cage around them. They are use by the transportation industry to transport liquid from a manufacturer to a packaging plant where the liquid is packaged into smaller containers. The two sizes most used by preppers are the 275 gallon and 325 gallon containers.
Used 275 gallon containers in my area sell for between $100 and $150. Like used 55 gallon barrels, make sure they can be used for potable water and didn’t originally contain chemicals. The companies who sale IBCs, separate out the containers that can be used for potable water and charge a little more for them.

IBCs are great for rain water collection systems. We’ll handle that in Water – Part 3

Other topics for Water – Part 3:  Long-Term Water Supply, Filtering and Purifying Water, Water Gathering.


Ed Rogers

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