Wednesday, October 8, 2008

STEP 2: Emergency Drinking Water

(Note: - STEPS 1, 2, and 3 can be worked on simultaneously. Then move to STEP 4)

STEP 2: Drinking Water
"Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted. If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source, then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pretreat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for juices and soft drinks. Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight."

FEMA recommends you prepare for emergencies to last up to two weeks or more. After watching the recent hurricanes in the South, we can see that we need to be prepared for long term emergencies. In the Home Production and Food Storage pamphlet by the LDS church, it recommends storing a two week supply of water per person, 14 gallons (7 for drinking and 7 for other uses). These are minimums! Infants and seniors may require more. Also, consider the high temperatures in your area.


I recommend individual commercially prepared water bottles as they are easy to transport, store, and rotate. I buy 24 ct. cases of 16.9 oz. bottles when they go on sale. They are easy to buy when I grocery shop, and easy for me to lift if ever I needed to transport them by car to a shelter. Or I could toss them into a wheeled suitcase and walk them to an evacuation center. They are easy to share too. Don't depend on an evacuation center to have a good supply of drinking water right away! Bring your own. Water is the first thing to disappear off store shelves in a disaster.

My teenagers use these bottles for school sports. I also put them in my car emergency kits, and 72-hour kits and periodically use then replace them. Simple to store, simple to rotate. 

Commercially sealed bottled water can last almost indefinitely, so you do not have to rotate often. However, the longer you store, the more likely the water will have an aftertaste  "The taste of stored water can be improved by pouring it back and forth between two containers before use."

The choice is yours. Water or no water. You can live without food for several days, but you cannot live without water.

DO THE MATH  (this is the minimum)
The goal is 14 gallons of water per person or 1792 ounces.
Each person would need - 

106 @ 16.9 oz. bottles (commercially bottled) 

4.4 @ 24 ct. cases of 16.9 oz. bottles (commercially bottled) 
28 @ 64 oz. juice bottles (wash & dry, and fill with water) 
14 @ 1 gallon heavy duty bottles (commercially bottled)
54 @ 2 liters soda bottles (wash & dry, and fill with water)

  • "Use only food-grade containers. Smaller containers made of PETE plastic or heavier plastic buckets or drums work well.
  • Clean, sanitize, and thoroughly rinse all containers prior to use. A sanitizing solution can be prepared by adding 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) to one quart (1 liter) of water. Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used.
  • Do not use plastic milk jugs, because they do not seal well and tend to become brittle over time.
  • Do not use containers previously used to store non-food products."
There are other needs that require water. Store as much as you can.

Go to the LDS church website for further water storage guidelines.

I also purchased Seychelle water purification bottles so we could use the water from the stream behind our house. LDS members can purchase them from the distribution center for about $16.00 “Water filters produced by Seychelle have been used successfully by LDS Church missionaries for many years.”

Now look at STEP 3: Financial Reserve


  1. Any idea exactly what happens to a person's body if they drink "old" stored water? I've been wondering this for quite a while. It's SO highly recommended to rotate/replace the water in the bottles every 6 months or so, but why? If bacteria grew in my stored water, that's a big deal, so I boil it or bleach it, which isn't a big deal. If it lost it's oxygen it needs to be stirred a while, no big deal. It's still water...why rotate it?

  2. Don't have all the answers, but the water in small bottles begins to taste like plastic if you've had it for a long time. Just do what works for you.

  3. oops, thought I made comment but it disappeared. I am not LDS but also feel that you are at top when it comes to food storage and being prepared. I have almost year supply of food for myself and my sister. My daughter has famiy of 6 and she has about 6ths worth. She likes to call it her extended pantry. Your site is wonderful and I plan on using it to help me to be better prepared. I cam across 7 55 gal FDA approved containers that had soda pop syrup in them. I have washed them out and they will be our water storage. I felt so bless to have found them for 10 each. Keep up the great job. I have shared with co workers but they just ask if Im Morman, no. Two at least have started to store, they also want to be prepared. So again thank you for everything you are doing here. I plan on sharing this site with anyone who will listen.

  4. Don't forget that your hot water heater is a source of water in an emergency, too. Most house sized water heaters are 54 gallons or more (apartment sized ones tend to be 32-38 gallons).

    Shut off the heating element, and close the incoming water line *before* the municipal water supply is compromised (which happens when there is heavy flooding, etc). Then you can open the overflow valve at the top of the heater to break the vacuum and allow water to flow from the faucet at the bottom.

    NOTE: Remember that the water may take a **long** time to cool down, after you shut off the heating system. Don't burn yourself when you drain the water!

    If you are uncertain if the municipal water supply is contaminated, you will want to filter/treat the water out of your heater before use, but it's still a significant water resource.

    We use bottled water as our 'ready reserve', and we have four 5 gallon (stackable) water jugs we can fill in advance of hurricanes, as well as a WaterBOB (a huge food grade plastic bladder that you put in your bathtub and fill from the tub faucet for later use).

    Altogether, we have 16 gallons of bottled water for instant use, another 32 gallons in our hot water heater at any given moment, and the capacity to fill (and store for later use) another 120 gallons if we have advance warning.

    (way down in Tampa)

  5. Valerie this article and your others are amazing. I have referred people here a lot. I too believe potable water is very important. Thank you for laying this all out so simply. For those who want to store rainwater I have a youtube video series on that. For those who want a system they can trust to filter and purify the water for $0.02 per gallon please view these videos. I am not a rep for any of these products but have found them to be wonderful.

    Thanks for all you do.



Thanks for your comments and suggestions!