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How to Make Emergency Water Storage Last

By Ready Expert
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How much water do you think you use on a daily basis? Depending on your personal hygiene preferences: 5 gallons? 10 gallons? 20 gallons? According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses 80 - 100 gallons of water per day! In fact, over 410 billion gallons of water are withdrawn from the country’s water supply each day!

Now imagine that supply wasn’t available. What would you do? That’s why having an emergency water storage supply is so important - not only for natural disasters but water outages and other problems.

It's recommended that you have 1/2 gallon of drinking water per day. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends that you have 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking AND hygiene. That means if you want to prepare for a month for a family of four, you’d need about 120 gallons of water! You can see how water storage preparations would begin to add up! That's why It's so Important to store enough water for your family.

Good material.

All of our water containers are made from BPA-free plastic with heavy-duty walls that are ¼” thick. The walls are made from food-grade high-density polyethylene. That means you can store water in it and not worry about harsh, man-made chemicals. All of our containers are made with food-grade plastic and an opaque lining that protects your water and prevents bacteria from growing. 


How long will water storage last? If you follow FEMA’s recommendation of preparing 1 gallon of water per person per day, you’ll obviously be cutting back on your water consumption. If you chose to use more water per day, the 500 gallon tank would still last! You can use this chart to plan for your family’s needs:

How long would 500 gallons of water last your family?
# of family members 1 gallon per day 2 gallons per day 3 gallons per day 4 gallons per day 5 gallons per day
1 500 days 250 days 167 days 125 days 100 days
2 250 days 125 days 84 days 63 days 50 days
3 167 days 84 days 56 days 42 days 34 days
4 125 days 63 days 42 days 32 days 25 days
5 100 days 50 days 34 days 25 days 20 days
6 84 days 42 days 28 days 21 days 17 days
7 72 days 36 days 24 days 18 days 15 days
8 63 days 32 days 21 days 16 days 13 days
9 56 days 28 days 19 days 14 days 12 days
10 50 days 25 days 17 days 13 days 10 days

Questions? If you have any questions about your water storage needs, we’d love to help! Post your questions below and we’ll answer! Also feel free to browse our full selection of water storage items and water accessories.

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5 months ago
11 years ago at 7:52 PM
Important and interesting. I would like to be able to print this off.
Joe Vilsack
11 years ago at 12:18 AM
Two questions: I've often wondered about the advisability of collecting rainwater and the kind of system that might be required? Also, for large 250 or 500 gallon water tanks, can you realistically just add the appropriate amount of drops every 6 months or so, or will there come a time when you just have to empty the tank and start over? Thanks, Joe Vilsack
11 years ago at 1:12 PM
Storing water is always a good idea. However, keep in mind the size of the container (specifically the width) of each container vs the size of the doorways you intend to pass thru to get to your intended location. For example, many interior home doors are 30 inches and that doesn't mean the space betwee the trim is a full 30 inches. The 250gallon container is listed at 30 inches so getting it thru your front door (exterior doors usually 36 inches) works fine, but other doors may present a problem. The 500 gallon container is listed at 49 inches wide so it's not going in the house unless you have say a larger sliding glass door in a walkout basement. Finally, please always consider the weight of each full container if you plan to store it on anything less than a solid concrete floor. Just some considerations when you're getting these larger containers.
11 years ago at 7:40 PM
couldn't you keep a pump or an air stone in the the water tank to keep it from getting stagnant and having to change it?
11 years ago at 8:05 PM
and couldnt you just filter the water before you drink it?
David P
11 years ago at 6:38 AM
Yes, but purifying and filtering are not the same thing. Both really need to happen for consumption. Especially purifying.
Michael sommer
11 years ago at 7:09 AM
If you store the 500 gallons, how long is the water good for before you have to refresh it? Can you leave it in there over ten years or does it have a shelf life?
11 years ago at 7:25 AM
Maybe I just read the info too quickly but I didn't see the answer to my question about how long my water supply will last. Currently I have 10 boxes of 24 per box, 16 ounce bottles of water. How long, compared to freeze-dry food, will boxes of bottled water last in storage before it goes bad? 5-10-15 years? Should it be replaced every 5 years or so?
11 years ago at 7:29 AM
How long will bottled water last in storage?
11 years ago at 8:36 AM
I read somewhere about using household bleach to purify water. How much per gallon and how often? Plus, when do you dump saved H20 and refill tank? Does tank need to be rinsed out inside between fill ups? Thanks!
5 years ago at 7:31 PM
Remember you must be 21 to drink! In other words it is 2 drops of bleach for every 1 quart. Or for every gallon 2x4=8 drops
11 years ago at 10:04 AM
Keep my 250ga tank in the garage next to the door. Allows me to check it daily for leaks (none in 3 months) and give me easy access to it from the house. Tried a glass of water after 3 months of summer heat (with the stabilizer added) and it was still cool. Definitely use a potable water hose when filling though. You never know what kind of stuff is in a regular water hose.
11 years ago at 10:06 AM
And don't forget about the water your pets would need in a disaster! When our family plans, we count the dog as an additional person in terms of water needs. And of course there is food stored for her as well.
11 years ago at 5:41 PM
How long will the bottled water in the stores last in storage? Is it better to purchase the water containers that are boxed? Thanks
11 years ago at 9:02 AM
Don't know the answer to Ryan's questions, but I had read somewhere that bottled water (like the 16oz in a 24 pack)will keep ok for around two years if kept out of the light and you rotate in new stock over time.
11 years ago at 11:12 AM
Also, may I recommend adding the water drops with the water tank is relative & again easy purchsae within it's proper conversation of such subject. The drops you can add to water to let it last 5 years. Those tablets/drops I am speaking of. Just a thought. Have a great day.
10 years ago at 10:04 AM
We have camped for many years in tents, RV's and out in the open. One thing I've found it is easier to monitor and control water usage when you have limited resources if you keep the drinking water separate from the bathing, flushing and cleaning water. We fill the camper tank with the 35 gallons it will hold and then take drinking water in gallon jugs. This keep unneccssary running of the faucet to a minimum and maximizes our usage of our resources.
f houghton
10 years ago at 8:02 AM
How long will a 5 gallon, bottle of alpine fresh water remain drinkable for my puppy, after it's been opened? She's getting diarrhea, and I'm concerned. I've had the bottle opened for 7 days now, but after each use, I put the cap back on??
10 years ago at 12:10 PM
Space-saving containers are fine, but consider that if you have only one or two large capacity containers that you may lose a large percentage of your emergency water supply if one of the large containers becomes contaminated..
10 years ago at 12:25 PM
I have an 18,000 gal pool out back and the materials to divert all rainwater from the roof into the pool. I'll never run out of water. Couple that with multiple Berkey filters and I will have clean filtered water for years.
10 years ago at 2:23 PM
Water can store for a 1000 years! Just remember to cook and filter the water before drinking. The water we drink is million of years old, only purified by nature and water-company.
9 years ago at 12:27 PM
Sadly, this is counting EVERY possible use of water there that can be thought of that could be used in a day of an American lifestyle. This includes drinking, showering, every flush, cooking with water, washing hands etc. In reality the average person uses maybe 20 to 30 gallons a day. Being aware of such things, I use under 10 gallons a day.
9 years ago at 7:38 PM
Living in hurricane country, I annually stock a case of bottled water per person and per pet by the start of the season. (drink it after the season) I also keep the bottom layer of My chest freezer full of gallon jugs. My biggest concern with free standing tanks is the growth of algae. I currently have 1000 gallons stored in tanks in the back yard treated with bleach and so far, no skeeters or algae
9 years ago at 5:53 AM
I'm in Texas, is it possible to store water in a container in the garage with the Texas heat?
8 years ago at 10:52 PM
We live in Pa.frozen Pa right now we are having an issue with enough water for three people. We had a well drilled 1 1/2 yrs ago but it is only producing 1 to 2 gallons a minute We need a storage many gallons should it be and do you reccomend it to put in the basement or underground? pro's and con;s of both Please and Thanks, Robin
8 years ago at 7:58 PM
I have read that one should not put plastic water barrels directly on a concrete floor, but the explanations have been pretty hazy. There was a suggestion of 'taste' leaching out of the cement, through the plastic, and into the water. I can at least imagine a chemical reaction between cement, especially if damp, and the plastic, but no idea if it is more than imagination. Does the Ready Store have any idea if there is a potential problem? Thanks!
8 years ago at 6:45 AM
I see a problem with the advertised 500 gallon tank you are selling. While I would love to have this and keep that much water at the ready, I find that I would also like to have it in my home or bug-out location. The problem I see is that the tank is 49 x 49 x 67. For most homes, that presents a real problem when doors are normally 32-38 inches wide.
3 years ago at 11:31 PM
I stored 7 55-gallon containers for each member of my household / pets adding 1/2 cup of bleach per container. Years later, our well went dry and $8000 restored that water source though dug twice as deep in Oregon. Water is life