Be Prepared When Disaster Strikes
During a hurricane, earthquake or wildfire; water services can be interrupted in your area. Having emergency water containers will help you have the water you need if the tap shuts off
Be Insured with Emergency Water
Whether it's a job loss or an oncoming hurricane, water storage can help you be prepared with drinking water whenever you need it. With water, you can get through any disaster
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Why Water Storage
A gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. Water is not easy to transport because it is so heavy. That means your emergency water plan should account for that.
Keep these items in mind when you are planning. For example, you may want to put a gallon of water per day in your 72 hour kit. But, that will weigh about 25 lbs. Are you strong enough to carry that water around? Are your children strong enough? Will it even fit?
How much water do I need?
The recommended amount of water from a variety of sources (like the American Red Cross) is 1 gallon of water per person per day. That is water for drinking, cleaning, cooking and sanitation. It is not for just drinking. You don’t drink a gallon of water on a normal day, but to be safe and to take of other needs, 1 gallon of water is the recommendation. If you start doing the math on how much storage space that would require for you and your family for 1 year, you will start to understand the recommendations below.
Here is my approach to water and what we recommend. In an emergency, you need to have three ways of getting to clean water:
1. Store water. Every shelter-in-place supply should have water storage. A small word of caution: Don’t try to go cheap on your water storage. Buy a food grade water storage container like a 55, 30 or 5 gallon container and use that. Don’t fill up your old juice bottles or your old milk jugs. They'll crack more easily and they're not designed for long term storage.
The barrels and water containers are not to terribly expensive and when the time comes that you need the water, you will be glad you stored water you can actually use. Also, have a variety of sizes of storage containers. Don’t just have a 55 gallon barrel that you never move and never clean out or fill up. Use smaller, easier to transport containers like a 5 gallon stackable. Remember, water is heavy!
Also, you won’t rotate your water as much as you think you will, so make sure you use some sort of water stabilizer that allows the water to be stored safely for 5 years without rotating. We have a Water Preserver that works well.
2. Have a portable water filter. If you do have the water stored but you are not sure if it is safe or you come across water in an emergency and you don’t know if it is safe, that leads me to my second point. These portable water filters are extremely handy and will allow you to clean suspect water that you come into contact with and make it drinkable.
These portable micro filters will remove bacteria and protozoa from the water, but won’t kill viruses. If you have a stream, lake, pond, river or well by your house; you will be able to clean the water from those sources using these filters. Each filter will clean up to 500 gallons of water. That is nearly ten 55 gallon drums worth of water. An impossible amount of water for most people to store. I really like or MSR MiniWorks water filter and the Katadyn Combi. They are also great for backpacking and camping.
3. Have water purification tablets. These are very handy to have around and a small bottle will chemically treat up to 25 quarts of water. They work fairly quickly (typically in less than a half an hour) and will kill bacteria, protozoa and viruses.
Remember that if you don’t have any of these three things, you can still clean water by boiling it. As a matter of fact, boiling is most effective way to clean water except it won’t take out the floaties like a filter will. The problem with boiling water to drink is it uses a lot of fuel that you may not want to use for that purpose. Also, don’t forget to have portable water pouches in your emergency supplies. They have a 5 year shelf life and are very handy to have around.
How to store water for emergencies
Size. Make sure that the container is big enough for your needs. It’s recommended that you have 14 gallons per person in your family.
UV coated. You want to make sure that light isn’t getting in to your water. This can increase the possibility of contaminant growth inside the container or barrel. You want to make sure that it’s dark inside that tank!
Material. Besides making sure that you have a UV coating on the barrel, you’ll want to make sure that it’s BPA free. With some containers, BPA can seep into the water and create some problems.
Quality. You’ll also want to make sure that each of the containers is durable and won’t warp, crack or split easily.
When you first purchase the tank or container, it might come with preparation directions. To ensure that the inside is clean, you can use a mild dish soap and clean water to wash out the inside walls, base and lid of the container. We recommend using a water preserver to keep your water safe for 5 years. If you don’t use a water preserver, you’ll have to rotate your water storage every 6 - 12 months.
Place the tank or container in it’s final resting place. You’ll want to place a wood board or block between the barrel and the cement. If you don’t, toxins from the cement can seep into your water supply. Don’t store water barrels directly on cement! Fill the container half way. After you fill it half way you can check the seams the valves on your container, if you have them. (This is when you add the preserver.) Once the seals are checked, fill the rest of the container. If you’re container is larger, you may want to strap the barrel or tank to the wall. This will prevent it from falling in an earthquake. I’ve seen many photos out there of people who staking their water barrels on home-made shelves and if you do this, you need to make sure that they are strapped down securely in case of an earthquake.
Rotating Your Water Storage
A common question we are asked about preparing for any type of emergency is how often you should rotate your water storage. If you’ve tried to search around on the internet for an answer, there is a lot of conflicting information. If your water is not stored correctly, bacteria and algae can start growing inside the container and make it impossible to drink during a crisis. If you decide to use store-bought water, it needs to be rotated by the expiration date since the plastic used contains BPA. When you treat water properly and have it in a dark and cool area, you could potentially get away with never having to rotate your water. As a good rule of thumb, we recommend that you check your water every 6 – 12 months. To help, we created this application to set up yearly reminders to check your water.
What does HDPE and BPA-Free Water Storage Mean?
You might have read or heard in the news regarding a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a chemical added to some plastics commonly used to make beverage containers and several other plastic containers with the recycle symbol 7. Research has discovered that BPA can leach into your food and water from containers that have the chemical in them. The research also showed that food and water contaminated with BPA caused many health problems including issues related to the prostate gland and the brain.
You might not be aware of this but HDPE is found in plastic product all around you. HDPE stands for High-Density Polyethylene and is found in containers with the recycle symbol 2 and its in common house hold items like your milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, plastic bags and much much more! HDPE is a very durable plastic designed to withstand high temperatures (230 °F | 110 °C), and is opaque in color.
Now that you know what BPA and HDPE are, you probably get a little sense of why knowing about them is important relative to the types of containers you use to store your water. A container that is BPA-free and is made from HDPE is critical. First off, Bisphenol A (BPA) is simply a chemical that can cause harm to your body and when dealing with an emergency you don't need to have the additional problems or symptoms from the BPA.
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