One of the priorities for preparedness is having an emergency preparedness water supply. I hope I don’t have to go into too much detail here about the importance of water. The body can lose all of its carbohydrate and fat stores and half its protein stores and still survive. Just a 10-20% loss of body weight in water would prove fatal.
The effects of dehydration can be severe, including labored breathing, dizziness, and delirium, potentially turning a difficult situation into a dire one. After a stable supply of fresh air, clean water is the next most important priority. How to store safe drinking water like natural water sources, such as streams, wells, lakes, etc., cannot be relied upon as they may be contaminated with diseases or toxins, and purification methods may not remove them all.
Emergency Water Supply Per Person
How much water to prepare is a personal choice. As recommended by FEMA, the bare minimum is 1L/person/day or a minimum of 3 days. Other government websites recommend up to 2-3L/person/day. And honestly, considering how cheap (essentially free) water is and how incredibly important it is, I say err on the side of having too much as opposed to too little.
With more long-term water storage, you’ll want more water/per person. You can survive on a bit of a deficit for a few days but don’t want to push it after that. You’ll also need water for washing, hygiene, etc. I suggest 4L/person/day. A 2-week supply would be 53L/person; a month’s supply would be 120L; and a year’s supply, if you’re so inclined and have extra space, would be 1460L/person.
Bottled water is an option, as it’s easier and can be safe and reliable. It will usually have the shelf life printed on the bottles as well. The plastic used is permeable to hydrocarbon vapors, so you don’t want to store it near gasoline or pesticides. There are also water storage containers for sale designed for long-term water storage.
Emergency Water Storage Tanks
You can also use old containers to store your water. You’ll want to avoid anything with milk or juice, as the sugars and fats are difficult to remove fully, and bacteria can form that will ruin the water. 2L pop bottles work well for storage. To clean them out, first, rinse with soap and water.
Then add 1L water and 1 teaspoon of unscented household chlorine bleach. Swish around, touching all the inner surfaces of the bottle. Empty and rinse thoroughly with water.
Fill bottles with tap water. If the city treats the water with chlorine, that should kill any remaining bacteria. If not, add 2 drops of chlorine bleach. Tightly close the cap, and tada, you have 2L of water stored!
The shelf life of water can vary depending on water quality, temperature, and light exposure. Cover the bottles with dark plastic bags in a dark, cool area to increase the shelf life. Again, keep away from gasoline/kerosene/pesticides to avoid contamination.
Inspect water every 6 months for leaks/changes in color, and look to rotate this water as its shelf life will often not last much longer than a year.