I think the very first step to being prepared and establishing your food storage is getting a supply of water!Water is vital! It is second in priority only to having air to breathe! You could probably live several weeks without food, but you will only live a few days without water! So WATER is the perfect place to begin! And the good news is, it is very easy and inexpensive to obtain an emergency water supply!
How much do I store?
The suggested amount of water to store per person is 14 gallons. This is a 2 week emergency supply, and this is a minimum amount. That would give you 1 gallon a day for one person for two weeks. It is suggested that you drink 2 quarts a day and save the other 2 quarts for food preparation and cleaning. It would be better to store more than 14 gallons per person, but make sure you have at least that much!
For a family of 4 you would need 56 gallons minimum on hand. That may sound like a lot, but just START storing some water, and add to it as you can. When a crisis hits, you will be so thankful for the water you have! (See my story at the end of this article.)
What type of containers should I use?
Most people want to know the least expensive way to do things, so let's start with that!
Two and three liter soda pop bottles and heavy plastic juice bottles are great to use for water storage. If your space is limited, you might be able to more easily find a spot to store these, a few here and a few there. Get them from family and friends, and they are free! I have seen layers of pop bottles stacked in a corner of a garage with a half sheet of plywood between each layer. Use your imagination, but store that water!!!!!! Many people store some cases of commercially prepared bottled water, which is also a good idea.
The easiest way to store large amounts of water is in 55 gallon polyethylene (plastic) drums. These will take up the least amount of space for the amount of water, and can be stored outside if necessary. These drums also come in 5 gallon and 15 gallon sizes. You can obtain these from food storage companies or from local container companies. You will need a drum pump or a siphon pump to get your water out of the 55 gallon drums easily.
*Do not use milk jugs or light weight plastic containers for water storage. They will break down after a few months and start to leak. I was at my sister-in-law’s house last month and went and looked at all of her food storage she has in her basement, and I found a leaky gallon of water dripping all over other food storage items! Don’t store water in milk jugs! It will not end nicely!
What method of purification should I use?
There are several methods to purify or treat water when storing it and when using the stored water. Listed are the most common and cost effective. This information was obtained from ProvidentLiving.org and the Red Cross, which are fabulous resources.
When storing water, clean your container and fill it with water. Then add 8 drops of household bleach per gallon, or use 20 drops of Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen per gallon. (See below for a little more info.) ProvidentLiving.org says, "Water from a chlorinated municipal water supply does not need further treatment when stored in clean, food-grade containers."
When drinking your stored water, make sure to use one of the methods below to treat it.
Method #1: Boiling Water
Boiling will kill bacteria and other harmful organisms, but it does not solve all contamination problems. Boiling will make the water safe to drink, and some people say this is the preferred way to treat water before drinking.
Water must be brought to a boil, and kept at a rolling boil for at least 3-5 minutes!!
Method #2: Bleach
Household bleach can be used, but it needs to contain 5.25% of sodium hypochlorite. Be sure that that is the ONLY active ingredient in the bleach, and that it contains no soap additives, phosphates or fragrances.
Use about 8 drops per gallon when storing it away. That would be about a tablespoon of bleach for a 55 gallon drum. If the water is cloudy, put double the amount of bleach suggested. If you are treating the water right before drinking it, let it sit 30 minutes after bleach is put in before drinking.
Method #3: Iodine Tablets or Drops
2% Tincture of Iodine or Iodine Tablets can be used to treat water. Be sure to mix thoroughly. You must wait 30 minutes before drinking water. Pregnant or nursing women, or people with thyroid problems should NOT drink water with iodine.
Carefully follow the directions on the container to know how much Iodine to use! Usually it's 12 drops per gallon or 2 tablets.
Method #4: Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen
This is a highly preferred method because it has no harmful side effects, and is actually very good for you. It is a liquid that comes in a small dropper bottle. It also has many medicinal applications.
Use ½ bottle for a 55 gallon drum, or 20 drops per gallon.
*You should rotate your water at least once a year. Water your garden, lawn, shrubs and house plants with it.
*If your water goes flat (tastes very bland from loss of oxygen), you can improve its flavor by pouring back and forth between containers or beating it with a mixer.
*You may want to store some flavorings such as fruit drink powders, koolaid, etc. to add to your water if you find the taste objectionable…especially if you have children or older people in your family.
One winter morning my husband woke up at 4:00 a.m. for an early meeting he had. He jumped in the shower, and in less than a minute I heard him kinda shout "Ahhhhh!" and then he called my name in a panicky voice. I went running into the bathroom to see what was wrong, and he was completely covered in soap, and standing in the shower with no water running! He said the water had just STOPPED! Apparently one of the kids had left the cover off the well and it had frozen, and he had just used up all the water in the pipes under the house. And that was it!
I quickly threw him a towel and brought in a portable heater he had in his home office. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a gallon of water I had stored in my pantry and poured it into a pot to get it nice and hot. I got another gallon and poured it in the pot to make 2 gallons of warm water. I ran it into the bathroom where my husband used that water to clean off the soap and finish his shower!
Two weeks before this, my good husband had murmured a bit about spending most of a Saturday filling several 55 gallon drums with water for our family water storage. He thought I had way too many containers, and kept asking me if I was sure we needed that much. He was now very thankful that we had water storage!
And I was thankful that I filled a few one gallon containers and put them in an easily accessible place inside the house. It would have taken me quite a long time to go under the house, open the 55 gallon drum, and siphon water into a smaller container and bring into the house.
So the moral of the story is to store water in different size containers, and make sure to have some easily and readily accessible!