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Emergency Water Storage and Sanitizing 101

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If we were forced to live like the Walking Dead at this very moment, how many of you can honestly say you are prepared to do so? When SHTF it’s about the survival of the fittest, where the fittest is the most prepared. With that being said, when it comes to surviving you have your disaster plan, your BOB, survival garden, but what about your water? Emergency Water Storage & Sanitizing 101

Imagine a disaster strikes and you have no access to running or clean water. You could be without water for weeks on end.

Are you prepared for the following:

  • Long term water storage and how to store water
  • Treating water and what to look for
  • Clean and prep containers for storing water
  • Finding other water sources
  • Determining water needs
  • Understanding the importance of storing water

This survival guide will prepare you for emergency long term water storage, how to use your environment to find other sources of water, how to make water safe to drink and use, and why it is important for survival during a pandemic or crisis.

Sources of watering

I live in an area where hurricanes are prevalent, so being left without running water and electricity is realistic. Imagine being without water to drink, cook or bath, and it’s not like you can run to the store to grab water, because there isn’t any. What would you do? Do you know what alternative water sources inside and outside your home are?

Inside your home:

  • Uncontaminated melted ice cubes
  • Swimming pools and spas provide a source of water for hygienic purposes, and cleaning, not drinking.
  • Liquid from canned goods
  • Untreated water from your toilet tank, not the bowl

Outside your home:

  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and natural springs

It’s important that before using outside sources of water that you treat the water before you use it for bathing, cooking, or drinking. The water can be contaminated with chemicals, sewage, human and animal waste, or any other type of bacteria that can cause illness. Most water sources inside your home have been treated with bleach, however, may not be suitable for drinking.

Storing water

It is recommended that if you buy cases of bottled water, replace it every six months. You have to look out for leaching from the plastic of these water bottles, even if they do not contain BPA, it can still release estrogenic chemicals.

The proper way to store water is in a cool dark area, like a basement or garage. You want to avoid direct sunlight when considering areas for water storage.

Making water safe to use

It’s important to know how to make water safe, in the event that you go through your water supply. There are several methods that you can use to make your water safe to use.

Here are some methods that you can use to treat your water:

  • Boiling the water in a large pot and letting it cool, will make suitable drinking water. If you pour the water back and forth between clean containers it will add oxygen back to the water giving it a more tolerable taste.
  • Chlorination using unscented, regular household liquid bleach. Use 40 drops of bleach or 1/2 teaspoon of bleach per gallon and let the water sit for 30 minutes. It should give a slight bleach odor, if not repeat the process and allow it to stand for 15 minutes. If you still do not detect a bleach or chlorine type odor, you will need an alternate water source. If the water is cloudy, murky, colored, or very cold, add double the amount of bleach
  • Distillation is the best method of treating water. Of the 3 methods, it is the only one that will remove contaminants such as heavy metals and salts. Fill a pot half-way with water, tie a cup to the handle of the pot’s lid, place the lid upside down on the pot and boil for 20 minutes. Make sure the cup is not touching the water.The curve of the pot lid will collect the condensation from the lid, which does not contain the contaminants.

Prepping containers for long term water storage

When choosing containers not just any type of container will do for storing water. Do not use old milk jugs, because bacteria can remain in the jugs. If possible use commercial water bottles, 55-gallon blue water jugs, or thoroughly cleaned soda bottles. You want containers that are UV-resistant, it helps limit light-exposure and bacteria and algae growth.

*Tip: Make sure that you have water treatment supplies included with your water storage. This includes chlorine household liquid bleach, coffee filters, and additional food-grade storage containers. You will need to rotate your water supply every 6 months to avoid the risk of contamination.

Determining water needs

The importance of being prepared with different options of storing and treating water in a crisis is because having drinkable water is a necessity. At the bare minimum, you should have a gallon of water per person per day in your water storage. of the gallon is to be used for daily fluid intake and the remainder for sanitation.

Keep in mind that you need extra water for emergency purposes, pregnant or nursing women, children, and if you live in warmer climates.

Water tips

  • Never use water for anything unless you know that it is safe.
  • Always clean and sanitize your containers before using them for water storage.
  • A 3-day supply of water per person is the general rule of thumb, however, if space allows it, you should try to shoot for 2 weeks.
  • Never ration water during an emergency, you should consume as much water as needed while to avoid dehydration. Avoid caffeinated beverages, since this will increase dehydration.
  • If you are unsure if the water is safe, treat the water with chlorine bleach. Clear tap water uses 40 drops of bleach or 1/2 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. If the water is cloudy, murky, colored, or very cold, add double the amount of bleach
  • When storing water, take into consideration if you are forced to evacuate or if you need to constantly be on the move. (Think Apocalypse, Walking Dead)


It doesn’t matter if the water is being stored for a crisis, survival situation, emergency or pandemic, the importance of water storage is to keep us going. The human body can go 3-4 days without water, and in the event of a crisis, you can lose running water. Without running water, bacteria and viruses will spread. This guide on storing water and accessing clean safe water was designed to give you the information that you need to prepare for being forced off-grid. Emergency Water Storage & Sanitizing 101

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