Preparedness blog

Storing Your Water in the Winter

By Ready Expert
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Water is the most important item to keep in your storage because it is essential to survival. However, this can become more difficult in the winter when temperatures drop below freezing. If your water freezes, you’ll need to use precious energy and heat to thaw it out for use again. Here are precautions you can take to keep your water storage from freezing in the winter.


Indoor Water Storage
If you are able to store your water indoors, such as in an insulated basement or cellar, or even the garage, your water will have a better chance of not freezing. One measure you can take to prevent this from happening is to wrap your water barrels or bricks in mylar emergency blankets to help keep them insulated from the cold. This may prevent them from freezing on particularly cold nights.

cold-water-1431859_1920Another option for keeping water unfrozen in cold temperatures is to install a circulation pump into your storage containers. This keeps the water churning and moving, making it more difficult for the water to freeze. This method may not work for outdoor storage, but for temperatures experienced in a garage or basement, a pump would be able to help keep the water from freezing.

If there is a possibility of your water freezing, take precautions to prevent damage to the container. Water expands by about 8 or 9 percent when frozen. When filling your water storage containers, fill them about ¾ of the way full in order to allow for expansion. You can also use a thicker, heavier grade of plastic that will be able to withstand the expanding water without cracking or splitting.

excavators-1437052_1920Outdoor Water Storage
There are also options for outdoor water storage if you cannot keep your water indoors. One is to store your water in an underground tank. With this option, you will have to dig out a space large enough for the tank to fit and then bury it. Usually you will have to dig 4 feet down in order to pass the frost level. But once buried, your water will be nicely insulated and will be less likely to freeze.

If you are storing your water above ground, you could use a steel tank. Unlike other materials, a steel tank is able to absorb heat from the sun that will keep the water warm enough to stay unfrozen throughout the night. When using a steel water tank for the purpose of insulating your water, fill the tank all the way full to create the best insulating effect.

Another above ground option is to store your water in a greenhouse. When building a greenhouse, you must use 2 layers of plastic to effectively trap the heat inside and prevent the cold from getting in. If well built, a greenhouse should be able to keep your water from thawing when it gets unbearably cold in the winter.


Storing water in your car is a smart idea, especially if you were to be stranded anywhere. In order to keep it from freezing and ensuring that it is always ready for use, keep it in the main, passenger cabin of the car rather than the trunk. car water storageEvery time you turn on the car, it will warm up the water so it will more likely be thawed if you should ever need to use it. You can also wrap it in a mylar blanket to give it more insulation.

The same rule for water containers above applies here with car storage containers. Fill them ¾ of the way full to prevent cracking and use a heavier grade of plastic that can withstand any major expanding.

Of all storage items, water is most quickly affected by freezing temperatures, especially if it is cold for a long period of time. But water is still essential to survival. These tips can help you prevent your water storage from freezing and ensure that it is ready to use when you need it.

7 years ago
6 years ago at 3:01 PM
Don't forget ice chests! You can build some large ones from Styrofoam packing material.
R needham
3 years ago at 10:14 AM
I put an ice fishing pop up tent over my 8 barrels They did not freeze at 16 degrees.
Jordan smith
5 years ago at 5:27 PM
Has gotten down to -55 C where I live would these techniques work here?
4 years ago at 7:20 AM
I have bought olive barrels on craigs list. They are 220 liters; red/orange in color. I painted them black, after a good cleaning/sanitizing, filled with fresh water using a garden hose rated for drinking water. Still put a little chlorox in water. Been 3 years, still clear, no odor. I fill below the shoulder of the shape of the barrel to allow for freezing/expansion. So far so good.