Water: Do You Have Enough Stored?

Water: Do You Have Enough Stored?

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After a natural disaster has occurred there’s the real possibility that your regular source of drinking water won’t be available, and if it is, it’s very likely to have been exposed to contamination. For an emergency such as this, it’s important that you have enough water stored away for you and your family. I felt the need to update this post from a few years ago so we all have the issue of water storage fresh on our minds.

FEMA suggests that you store enough water to last each family member for 3 days, but what happens if your drinking water is unavailable for a much longer period? Here’s more on having enough water stored for emergencies, along with the proper way of doing it. Water, do you have enough stored?

Water: Do You Have Enough Stored?

It’s important to stop and think about whether or not you have enough water stored for your circumstances. Read this article and then make an informed decision whether you have enough water stored or not. Based on that decision, you’ll need to follow a plan for where to get the additional water needed, how to store the water, and how to protect it for a determined storage period.

Water: Do You Have Enough Stored?

3 Day Period – A Good Starting Point

The CDC and FEMA both recommend that you store a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day for each one of your family members for at least a 3 day period. Based on that recommendation, if there are 4 people in your family, you’ll need a minimum of 12 gallons. This should be the bare minimum amount of water to get your family through a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, or tornado. Half a gallon will be used for drinking purposes, while the other half will be used for hygiene.

Now, let me tell you about my thoughts. I believe you need 4 gallons per person per day. I get thirsty just thinking about not being able to fill my refillable water bottle. It’s totally up to you, but 4 gallons is the REAL deal, my friends. In other words, a family of four would need a minimum of 48 gallons for three days.

Of course, having sufficient water for drinking is critical. You also need to consider how much water you’ll need to prepare your food, particularly if you’re planning on using dehydrated foods as your base for meal preparation.

I also think about things like brushing my teeth, cleaning my underwear, and hopefully being able to at least have a “sponge bath” every day or two. Each of these activities requires water, and if you don’t have it stored, you’ll have to go without, or at least set some awkward priorities.

In all honesty, three days’ worth of water storage doesn’t cut it for me. I highly recommend 7-14 days worth of water at the very least, and 30 days if you can make it work based on the space available and your budget. If you live in an apartment water storage in any real volume can be a challenge.

There may be other factors that come into play that would require you to store more water than what the experts recommend. For instance, if you have a nursing mother in your family, or you live in a hotter region, you have family members who are sick, and if you have pets you need to provide for. Those are other unique circumstances that you’ll need to consider based on location and family needs.

Long-Term Storing

If you’re preparing for an apocalyptic disaster or any number of doomsday scenarios, you’re going to need a significant amount of water at your disposal. Storing long-term drinking water will prove to be more difficult, whether it’s due to limited storage space in your home, and to be quite honest, there are related costs that come into play. The best thing that you can do is to get your 2 week supply and to slowly build upon your supply from there.  

Read More of My Articles  How To Store As Much Water As Possible

Storage Options 

Bottled Water

You can go the bottled water route by buying cases of them to last you and your family for a 3 day, and up to, a 2 week period, if that is your goal. You’ll pay more this way, but if you need to bug out, bottled water is easier to take with you. A 35 count case could be equivalent to 4.6 gallons of water, depending on the size of the bottle. That would last a single person just over 4 days, using government guidelines. In order to cover your water needs for a week, you’ll need 4 packages for one person, and 16 of them for a family of 4. 

If you plan to store more than one gallon per person per day, you’ll need significantly more. Depending on your target for storage and how you picture using the water, bottled water MAY not be the best solution.

5-7 Gallon Water Jugs

Every time you go camping you probably use this type of water jug to cover all your needs. This type of water jug is sturdy and also stackable, perfect for storing. You can usually find them in a dark blue color to keep direct light out and to prevent algae from growing. They, like packaged water bottles, are easy to take with you if you’re having to leave your home in a hurry. 

When I say “easy to take with you” could prove to be more of a challenge for some than others. A gallon of water weighs about 8.34 lbs, so 5 gallons weigh almost 42 lbs, and 7 gallons weigh over 58 lbs. Young strong bodies can deal with those weights, but older persons may struggle to carry that much. If you picture having to move the water due to various circumstances, please consider a dolly or cart with wheels.

In case you missed this post, The Best 5-Gallon Water Jugs


Many preppers plan on filling up their bathtubs with water following a disaster to ensure that they have plenty of drinking water. Your typical bathtub will get you about 100 gallons of water, but how sanitary is that? A waterBOB is also another storage option that’s neat for you to consider. Instead of filling up your bathtub directly with water, place a waterBOB in your tub that will fit nicely and will keep the contaminants out.

Two downside issues to this option are there may not be any water available to file the waterBOB immediately after a disaster takes place due to problems at your local municipal water source, and the waterBOB bag will be too heavy to relocate if needed.

55-Gallon Water Barrels  

If you have room for a 55-gallon water barrel in your home it’s one of the best storage options for larger families. They’re extremely sturdy and can store a lot of water completely sealed tight. When you have two of them on hand, you’ll have enough drinking water to last a family of 4 for almost an entire month, again, depending on how many gallons you picture using each day.

However, they aren’t easily portable, weighing approximately 460 pounds when filled with water. It won’t be easy to bug out in a hurry with this storage option.  Depending on your financial situation, they’re also fairly expensive too, along with the pump and drinking water hose that you’ll have to purchase to make this approach work.  Another 55-gallon Water Barrel

Please remember to store all water containers at least 2 inches off the ground so concrete or other chemicals close by won’t leach into your containers. I use 2 by 4’s of lumber under my barrels. 

Should I Consider Even Larger Water Storage Solutions?  

Since I’m a true prepper at heart, I’ve felt the need to have larger storage tanks available for use went needed. As mentioned above, we have 160 gallons and 250-gallon tanks in the garage. I can sleep at night knowing I have this extra capacity at my disposal if an emergency hits.

Read More of My Articles  Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Both tanks have two spigots towards the bottom of the tank, one at about bucket height, and the other near the ground so the tank can be emptied if necessary.

I use my WaterPreserver to keep the contents of the tank protected from any possible contamination.

Should You Rotate Your Water Supply? 

Water itself doesn’t spoil, or ever go bad. There’s no expiration date that you’ll have to worry about if it’s properly been stored. Water only goes bad if it becomes contaminated by bacteria when the container has not been sealed off completely from contaminants, including those carried through the air.

So if you’ve properly sealed off the container there’s logically no need to rotate your drinking water very often. The challenge comes from possibly having a container that isn’t totally sanitary, how the water is placed in the container since the hose could be contaminated, and how quickly it gets sealed. The rule of thumb has been to use unscented bleach to kill any possible germs and rotate the water every six months. In most cases, it won’t hurt for you to rotate your water supply at least once a year.  

I use Water Preserver so I only have to rotate mine every 5 years. I don’t want the worry or hassle that comes with frequent rotations, particularly if I have to drain the large 160-gallon and 250-gallon tanks I have in the garage.

Other Water Purification Solutions

Although you may have plenty of water tucked away for when hard times hit, it’s a good idea to have a few methods to filter and purify water, especially if you’re forced into a position to leave the comfort of your own home. Keep a supply of purification tablets, as well as portable water filters that you can take with you to any water source. Being able to boil water with a small portable stove that you have put away in your bug-out back could also be a lifesaver.  I highly recommend this Butane Stove.

Why Do I Need to Store Water?

The logical answer to this question is so you’re prepared for those unforeseen emergencies. When you really think about it, there’s more to it than that. Right now, all the western states are going through a long-term drought situation. This drought condition covering millions of square miles has been building up for many years, and we don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

The Utah State Legislature has as one of its key agenda items the issue of water, how to conserve what we have, how to take advantage of new storage options and resources, and how to protect the various water system infrastructure pieces so we don’t lose any ground.

Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear about a community that is under a “boil your water” order. It seems to often come from a broken pipe in the system, but also can be required due to some malfunction in the water treatment plant process, or the pump and delivery system. If you have water stored, your need to boil water for consumption may be limited.

Our prepper friends back east seem to struggle with an overabundance of water, usually from strong storm action in their area, or rapid snowpack melt upstream. If you have your water safely stored, even if you have some flooding in your community, you should be able to make it through the event without too much stress. Again, it does take planning, so get started today.

Final Word

You can never be completely prepared for when a disaster or emergency happens, but one thing you can be sure of is to have enough drinking water that’s going to last you through the event. Have you or someone you know ever been through a natural disaster and your drinking water has been compromised? What did you do, or would have done differently prior to the disaster?  Water: do you have enough stored? Read this article and let me know! May God Bless this world, Linda.

Copyright Images: Water From Spout Deposit photos_66719227_s-2019

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  1. Hey Linda! As usual a great post. We have (4) 5-gallon water bottles. I do need to get several more. I really want to get some 3 gallon ones so I can pick them up. We have to get our son to pick them up for us. We have a water cooler/heater that holds them. I love it. You can have either cold or hot water. I use the hot water for my tea. So easy and always hot or cold.I do have a couple of cases of bottled water. But I also have a reusable water bottle that has a filter in it. I do need to stock some more filters. Each filter will filter 300 bottles of water. It’s a Brita brand.

    Love all of your posts. You are such a good friend. Thank you so much for sharing your vast knowledge with all of us.

    1. Hi Deborah, thank you my sweet friend for your kind words. I’m so glad you mentioned the Brita filter. I have always had reverse osmosis, or at least for the last 20 years or so. We’re living with my daughter and they do not have it. They have city water, I do not like the taste. But I’m a guest until our small home is built. I probably sound like a water brat, but I just tasted some Brita water at my granddaughters. I LOVE IT!! We used to have those water cooler/heater units. They work great. Whatever water we can store is a blessing. A REAL blessing. I do not want anyone standing in line to get a case of water from the city after a disaster. A case wouldn’t last three days for me. Life is good when we have water and can sleep at night. Linda

  2. We have a water filter picture similar to the Brita, but it’s a Walmart brand. We used it before we got the better filter system for the kitchen sink. I use it for drinking and cooking. We have pretty good tasting water, but you can’t be too careful. Our filter system filters more than one way, don’t remember how many, but it tastes so good. I love our water! I do drink water from the water cooler/heater too. I drink mostly water. A cup of hot tea in the mornings, maybe another herbal tea in the afternoon, but mostly just plain water. The way I got to drinking water was to use pint jars. I’d fill them up at night and put a slice or two of cucumber or lemon in there and leave in the fridge. The next day, I’d drink the 4 pint jars of water. Now I drink it plain.

    1. Hi Deborah, oh I love hearing this! I always have a reusable jug in my hand or on the counter. Just plain water. I like the pint jar size, it would be cold. I love it! Linda

  3. I have 600+ gallons stored rotated annually. 2 IBC totes one with hose adapter, 3 -65gl barrels, water bricks, jugs and bottles stored in closets and storm shelter and the option of an additional 35 in the camper.
    I’ve multiple filter options if we have to start hauling it in. I’ve got maps printed to show water sources around me. We will use the deer cart with overwatch mainly at night.
    That’s the plan and prep. Hope it don’t fail

    1. Hi Matt, oh you know I love hearing you have a lot of water and plans to find more water if needed. The filters will be critical. You are prepared to take care of your family, Matt. I can almost picture the deer cart! Mark used to have to haul the one and only deer up a hill! Love it! Linda

  4. I highly recommend WaterBricks. I think they are 4-gallon–good handles, easy to carry–and they are made to stack safely, with interlocking “buttons” as well as holes all the way through so you can secure a stack with 2 poles or rods. Each comes with a solid cap for storage as well as a spigot-cap. When we had some well work done a couple years ago, our water had to be turned off for a few hours–the WaterBrick sat tidily and conveniently on the kitchen counter!

    For anyone with their own water system (well), see about setting that up for non-electric use too. Lehman’s has narrow well buckets which are supposed to work with a standard artesian well (haven’t tried them, nor known anyone who has). We have three dug wells within easy reach of the house, so I’m all set up, come spring, to have some hand pumps installed. It will make using a water trough much easier in the pastures, but will be there for emergency use if needed. (And there’s also the spring that Jack Marden used for making his “products” during Prohibition!) While wells, springs, and surface water *can* end up contaminated, they’re still good to include in planning.

    1. Hi Rhonda, I love WaterBricks, too! They are so easy to store and very affordable. Great tip on the wells, and the Lehmans well buckets, I order stuff from that store often. The Jack Marden spring, I love it! Great comment! Linda

  5. Love your prep posts (the recipes are nice too) As for water, I’ve watched how things are deteriorating and last year I upped my water game. I already had 75 gallons in glass gallon bottles, and two wells with hand pump backups. Then an opportunity for 55 gallon barrels (Food grade) came up and I purchased 40 of them for $10 each. Twenty went for rain collection, for the gardens, and 4 are set for collecting well water for drinking. Leaving me extras for whatever may come. Then I lost my mind and purchased 2 Berkey systems with 8 spare black filters, and six ceramic dome filters. Now I’m shopping for solar backup well pumps for a grid down situation. (Hand pumping is hard on old folks) LOL, the worst part is, I still don’t feel I’m close to being water prepared.

    1. Hi Leam, you are very prepared, a lot more than some people I know. Talk about a bargain on the water barrels, squeal! I have a Berkey system with extra black filters as well. You didn’t lose your mind, my friend! I would love a solar backup but it’s not going to happen. At least not a whole house one. I have several Goal Zero small solar generators with solar panels. I started doing a lot of recipes to teach people how to cook from scratch. We must learn to cook, store water, have a garden, and stock food. We can do it one step at a time. You are rocking with preparedness! Good job! Linda

  6. My husband is 75 and frugal so I have learned over the last 48 years to go slowly when bringing him around to new ideas. Spending money to store a lot of water is one of them. I do as much as I can without ruffling feathers. We do have about 10 cases of bottled water,, 12 cases of ginger ale and 4 cases of orange juice. We buy liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener in large dispensers from a warehouse store. I have found cleaning them out and filling them with water and a little bleach will work for washing clothes and flushing toilets in an emergency. It’s not much, but it is a start.

    1. Hi Chris, this is how I see it. We can only do what we can do and not ruffle the feathers in the family. What you are doing will work. Would you like to store more? Of course, we all would. BUT, we have to take it slow and do what our budget allows, and what will keep our family happy. Those laundry detergent and fabric containers are awesome. That’s water, yes, it’s perfect for washing clothes and dishes. It’s perfect for personal hygiene as well. It’s a BIG start, keep up the good work. Linda

  7. Geez, I wish I had the means to prepare with all these ideas. I’m just glad I’m able to do what I can. I thank God for my rural upbringing so know about getting/rationing water that doesn’t just run from a faucet or toilet. And I thank God for where I chose to build back in ’03. Linda, you often mention the FEMA recommendation of 1 gal per day/person. I ‘think’ they may have had an old-timer like me who came up with this, lol. Um, I’m talking Frugality at it’s Finest! Um, and Fema is only about emergency measures, not long term. Your ideas are Long Term.

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