Why store water? Your body can live for weeks without food, but only about 3 days without water. That is under ideal circumstances. You will have added stress in a situation that requires using your water storage.
Water storage is a must for your Emergency Preparedness needs. It is standard practice to store three times the amount of water suggested for just drinking.
Storing water can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. Much of it depends on why you are storing the water and the space you have available to store it. The containers needed to store the different types of water can vary. We’ll discuss containers in more depth in another post. The amount of care needed to secure the purity of the water also depends upon its end use.
Why Do You Need Water?
You use water for many things each day. These needs don’t change just because there is an emergency. Some reasons why you’ll need water are:
- Medical purposes
- Food preparation
- Cleaning up after food preparation
- Washing dishes
How Clean Does Water Need to Be?
How clean and pure the water needs to be is determined by the end use. There are many categories of water. You should store some of each.
Filtered or Sterilized Water
Water that is for internal use needs to have all living organisms and harmful contaminants removed. This includes water used for drinking, food prep and medical purposes. The containers used to store this type of water need to be fully containable and closed with an airtight seal.
Different methods can be used to filter or purify this water. We will go into more depth in another post on these methods and how they are used. The most common methods are:
- Chemical Purification
- Heat Purification
You can purchase sterilized water in sterile containers or can it in glass jars with a pressure canner, just like food.
What is clean water? This is water that is clear and has little suspended sediment. It does not have to be sanitized or purified. Its primary uses are:
- Hand washing
- Dish washing
This water is considered clean because you use soap or other cleansers that will also remove any dirt and impurities. Heating the water will also help maintain the health of the user.
Clear municipal water is best. You can also use water from a well, spring, stream, creek, or even captured rainwater .
Containers used for storing this water should be rinsed and free of toxic chemical contaminants. They need to be closable to keep out general dust and dirt. They should also be spill resistant, but do not have to be airtight.
For this application, milk jugs, 2-liter bottles, and juice bottles often serve as adequate storage solutions and allow for a larger variety of storage locations and fit into smaller nooks and crannies in your home and garage. Milk jugs can spring leaks, so only use them in places that can get wet.
Water previously used for handwashing, bathing, dishes, or laundry is considered grey water. Do not use it for food preparation or drinking, but it still has uses. Grey water can be used for toilet applications.
Grey water can be captured and stored in 5-gallon buckets or any convenient container. It can then be manually applied for flushing or rinsing of latrine containers. Once the water has touched the toilet surfaces then it needs to be discarded in a responsible manner.
Water has a constant weight. It will be approximately 8.3 lbs. per gallon. Therefore, anything that will hold the water above ground must be able to withstand the combined weight of the water and the container.
Water is subject to freezing if the temperature of the water drops below 32°F/0°C. The water will expand as it freezes and will put great internal pressure on any container it is held in. If you think there is a possibility of the water freezing, the quantity of water will need to be reduced to allow for expansion. The container also needs to be flexible enough to stretch with the expanding water without rupturing or splitting a seam.
Grey water can be stored in anything that will hold it. It is important to remember that even questionable water can be filtered and purified so it is best to store as much water as you have the capacity to do. You will use and need more water than think.