How And Where To Store Water

What would you do if your water supply became contaminated? Natural disasters can interrupt the flow of clean water. Following a disaster, some people may not have access to food and water for days or weeks. You can live for days without food, but you must have water or you will dehydrate. Whenever there is a crisis, water is the first thing to go.

Amount Of Water To Store
Each person in your family will need a 72-hour emergency supply of water. This is approximately one gallon per person per day, or three gallons, plus an additional three gallons for washing, cooking, sponge bathing, laundry, dishes etc.

I recommend a three-month supply of water if possible. This is approximately 90 gallons per person for drinking and 90 gallons for extra cooking and washing. Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more. Store a little extra for them. There are several ways to store this much water.

Containers
Many types of containers can be used for water storage. My favorite way to store water is in heavy plastic or glass containers.

Make sure all containers used for water storage are food grade with a high quality PET rating and have never previously held chemicals or poisons. All containers need to be cleaned thoroughly because whatever was in the container will leach into the water and make it taste bad. Bottled juices or soda etc… should be rinsed thoroughly.

All stored water needs to be checked occasionally for cloudiness and leakage. If the water looks or tastes bad then change it. If you have any questions about the purity of the water, then purify or boil it before using. If the water tastes flat, you can pour it back and forth between containers to aerate it or whip it to introduce more oxygen into the water.

Heavy Glass Or Plastic: Glass canning jars, glass containers and two liter soda bottles work the best. Gatorade, apple juice or cranberry juice bottles are great also. I save every heavy plastic jug that comes into my house and I store them in my basement as well as the garage. I fill them with water to about one inch from the top to allow for expansion in case the bottles freeze. I seal them with tight-fitting lids.

Bleach Bottles: Plastic bleach bottles can be used by filling the bottle with water and sealing it with a tight fitting lid. It is recommended that you do not drink the water stored in bleach bottles. You can use the water for cleaning or washing hands. Label it with a black marker. Keep these away from children so they don’t accidentally confuse the real bleach with water and drink it. Bleach will dissipate after a certain amount of time if the lid is taken off the container and it is left exposed to the air.

Bottled Water: Bottled water can be purchased in grocery stores. They come in boxes and can be stacked. You can purchase larger quantities at discount prices.

Tap Water: Tap water that comes from a municipal water system contains enough chlorine to be safe for long term water storage. Just fill your containers with tap water and store then away from sunlight, preferably in a cool dark place like a basement or garage.

Polyethylene Barrels: Commercial water storage barrels are available and they come in several sizes. To store a large amount of water, 55 gallon drums made from plastic polyethylene can be obtained at most food storage companies. If you use a 55 gallon drum, and fill it with water, it will be so heavy that it cannot be moved, so it will need a permanent location. You will also need a pump or spigot to get the water into smaller containers.

There are smaller drums that hold five to six gallons of water. They weigh about 40 pounds and need a pump also. These are nice because they can be moved more easily that the 55 gallon drums.

Glass Containers: Water can be stored in quart size jars sealed by the water bath canning method. Fill the jars with water leaving a head space of about one inch, then tighten the lid and ring onto the jar. Boil the jars in a water bath or use a steamer canner. Store the jars with cardboard in between so they don’t break. If you are using a boiling water bath be sure to put a wire rack on the bottom of the kettle so the jars do not touch the bottom and break. Pint jars require 20 minutes boiling time, quart jars require 25 minutes. You can also pour boiling water into a canning jar and seal it with a lid and ring that has been boiled in water. Let it set on the counter until it cools off and it will automatically seal itself.

Assorted Water Storage Tanks250 gallon super tanker: This large cylinder shaped water tank is ideal for tucking away in a corner of a garage or room. You will feel safer with having a larger quantity of clean safe water to use. This 250-gallon or 125-gallon water tanker is shaped to easily fit through doors or set on the floor of your garage. With two locations for nozzles and being set up to be gravity fed, there is no need to worry about pumps. The larger tanker is equipped for 250 days of water storage (based on one gallon per person per day).This super tanker is sold on my website www.peggylayton.com and is shipped from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Milk Jugs: Milk jugs are not good containers to store water in. After about six months they start to biodegrade, collapse and leak. Even the 1 gallon blue containers that you can fill up at grocery stores don’t last for very long. They are not heavy duty enough. You will have a big mess. I’ve tried this method and I don’t like it.

Where To Store The Water Supply
Store your water supply in several locations so you can get to it easily. I like to store most of my water in smaller containers because it’s much easier to carry around. Just recently, we had an opportunity to use our stored water. A main line up the road from our house broke and the water was shut off for most of the day. We put two-liter bottles of water in every bathroom for brushing teeth and washing hands. We put several in the kitchen for cooking and cleaning. The towns’ people were calling each other to warn everyone about this problem. As my friends all called me, I was happy to report that I had plenty of water stored and our family would be fine.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of storing clean water for emergencies. If you use contaminated water for drinking or cooking, it can cause many different symptoms like stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and even death. Life threatening illnesses include hepatitis, cholera, amebic dysentery, viral infections and typhoid fever. It’s much better to take precautions and disinfect your water before you use it.

After A Disaster
In an emergency situation, immediately shut off the water supply to your home. It’s a good idea to locate the shut off valve before you need it and teach everyone in the family to do it immediately after a disaster. The main gas valve must be shut off also. You can drain the pipes and collect the water that is left in your water lines. Just turn on the faucet that is located in the highest room of the house to let air into the lines. Draw the water from the lowest faucet of the house.

Supplemental Sources of Water
The water in the hot water heater is available for use. Be sure to shut off the incoming water or intake valve to prevent the contaminated water from mixing with the safe water. To take water out of the tank, open the drain valve. A hose can be attached to this valve and the water drained into containers.

The water in the tank of the toilet, not the bowl, can be scooped out and used if needed.

Liquids for drinking can be obtained from canned fruits, juices, vegetables and soft drinks, or anything that has been water-packed in the canning process.

Snow can be melted and rain water can be used, if you have a collection barrel. Be sure to disinfect the water before drinking. Boiling it vigorously for five minutes will kill all bacteria.

Swimming pools or spas contain treated water. Boil it before using. Lakes, streams, ponds, rivers and ditches contain water that can be used if it is clarified and treated with one of the methods I’ll describe below. To clarify, strain the water through a cloth placed over a bowl or pot. This will take out impurities.

As water sits over time, disease organisms tend to die. So the longer it is stored the safer it becomes and the less chance it contains bacteria, if it has been safely stored using one of the following methods. But remember, there is no way to purify water that has been contaminated with radioactivity.

Boiling Method: The safest method of purifying water is to boil it vigorously for five minutes. To improve the taste of the water after it has been boiled, pour the water from one container to another and aerate the water. Do not use cloudy water if you have a choice between clear or cloudy. Cloudy water is caused by bacterial growth. Cloudy water must be strained through a cloth to remove the particles. Then boil or treat the water with chemicals.

Chemical Sterilization Using Bleach: You can purify water by adding any household bleach that is not more than 1 year old. Bleach loses its effectiveness after a year. The most common bleach solutions contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Add the bleach solution to the water and mix thoroughly by stirring or shaking it. Then let it stand for 30 minutes so the bleach can do its job. Do not use lemon scented or perfumed bleach.

The following table shows the proper amount of bleach to add to the water.

Amount of water
to Purify

Amount of bleach to add to clear water

Amount of bleach to add to cloudy water

1 Quart
1 Gallon
5 Gallons

2 Drops
8 Drops
½ Teaspoon

4 Drops
16 Drops      
1 Teaspoon

Tincture Of Iodine: You can use ordinary 2 percent tincture of iodine, which you may have in your medicine cabinet. To purify small quantities of water add three drops of tincture of iodine to each quart of clear water or six drops to each quart of cloudy water. Stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes. This water will be a brownish red color and will have a slight taste of iodine. Pregnant women and people with thyroid problems should not use this method.

Water Purification Tablets: Water purification tablets release chorine or iodine to purify the water. You can purchase them at most sporting good stores or drug stores. These tablets have a shelf life of five years unopened.

Halazone Tablets: Halazone tablets for emergency water disinfection are commonly carried by emergency medical technicians or paramedics. They can be purchased in drug stores. The shelf life of these tablets is only two years, so check the label to see how long it has been on the drugstore shelf before you purchase it. Keep these tablets tightly sealed. If the tablets turn yellow or smell bad, do not use them. Again allow the water to stand at least 30 minutes before using it. This gives the chemicals time to work.

Home Purification Devices: Do not rely on water purifiers to substitute for stored water. If you use a water filter or home purifier you must still purify the water by boiling or using a chemical. Reverse osmosis devices and home distillers cannot be relied upon to remove grossly contaminated water. Even though these devices are not reliable to remove contamination, they can remove chlorine or iodine after the water has been safely disinfected. Using a water purifier will greatly improve the taste of the water.

ION is a stabilized oxygen product
ION: ION is a stabilized oxygen product that I have found to be very effective in water treatment. Many studies have been done on this product and it is concluded that ION will kill giardia, cholera and dysentery within a few minutes. It doesn’t have any of the harmful side effects that are associated with chlorine or Iodine. ION is a high concentration of oxygen.

High levels of oxygen will kill harmful bacteria. The name ION stands for ions of oxygen with a negative charge. By removing the positive charge from the water the process creates stabilized nontoxic oxygen. Anaerobic pathogens or infectious microorganisms in the water cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. ION will not harm the normal flora in our bodies. ION can be taken every day (five drops per 8-ounce glass of water). This will help boost the immune system by introducing stabilized oxygen into the bloodstream.

My husband and I take ION to Mexico and other countries when we go on vacation. We use it in all of our drinks. We do not get sick while others in our group do.

Because ION is nontoxic, it can be used medicinally and can be used every day to prevent illness. It can also be applied topically on wounds to kill any harmful bacteria. It’s great to put in the medical kit. One bottle of ION will treat 110 gallons of water. To use, add 20 drops of ION to a gallon of water. It’s small enough to carry in a purse and use every day.

There are many kinds of toxins that ION will neutralize. Bee stings and bites from spiders or snakes are all toxic. Dropping ION on the injuries will neutralize them almost immediately. ION can be mixed with Tea Tree Oil or as a carrier to help drive it deep into the skin.

ION should not be used full strength. Diluting it down with water (five drops of ION to 8 ounces of water) is the best way to use it. If you water your plants with the diluted ION water, they will thrive and grow bigger.

It can also help you if you suffer from a bacterial or viral infection. During times of sickness caused by a bacterial or viral infection, take 50 drops every three hours diluted in a glass of water. The ION goes into the stomach and fights the bacteria or virus.

To purchase ION go to my website www.peggylayton.com Click on ION water purification. Double click on the picture of the ION and all the information will come up on the many medicinal uses as well as water treatment. If you purchase 10 bottles at a time you can get a discount. If you purchase 25 or more bottles you can buy it wholesale.

This information was taken from my books Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? and Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. To purchase any of the seven books I have written or purchase dehydrated food that has been sealed for long term storage in 1-gallon cans or 5-gallon buckets, please check out my website at
www.peggylayton.com. My next article will cover dehydrated food, what to store how much to store and why you should make dehydrated food part of your long term storage plan.

— Peggy Layton

Food Storage 101: Where Do I Begin?

In my last article, Prepare Your Own Personal Home Grocery Store And Pharmacy, I introduced you to the need to store food.

Now we’re going to begin with step one in the six-step process to help you make sure you have an adequate supply of food should a crisis occur.

First Priority
Select and clean out a room to make space for your grocery store and pharmacy. It should be the coolest place (temperature wise) in the house: Usually in a basement, but preferably away from a furnace room or other heat source. If you can seal the room off so the heater vents don’t heat the room, it will stay cooler. Other good locations are root cellars or insulated and heated garages where the temperature stays constant between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. But remember, the room you choose should stay dry at all times.

Closets, under stairways, spare bedrooms, an unfinished part of the house, crawl space or under beds will work as well. North walls are cooler because they are away from the sun exposure.

If your room has dirt floors or cement, use wooden pallets to elevate the food up off the floor. The containers should never come in contact with the ground. The cans will rust and moisture can get into the buckets.

Bricks with wood across them will work to elevate the food up off the floor. Shelves should be designed so that a simple rotation system can effectively allow the oldest food to be used first and the newest food to be held within the shelf life period. The air must be able to circulate around the food to keep it dry. Keep the powdered milk, dairy products and oils closer to the floor level to keep them cooler.

We included some pictures of food storage rooms in my last article that I feel are well planned out and organized. These should give you some help on shelving ideas.

To insure proper rotation, always date the cans and put the newest cans to the back and use the oldest dated cans first. If you elevate the bottom shelf you can store camping equipment, coolers, propane stoves, sleeping blankets, etc., under them.

The shelving units pictured have a piece of wood across the front. This keeps the bottles from falling out and breaking. You can custom design your home grocery store and pharmacy to exactly what you need for your family.

Shelves can be built to accommodate No. 10 gallon-sized cans and still have plenty of space for 5-gallon buckets of beans, wheat, rice or pasta on the floor. The floor is a good place for coolers, Dutch ovens, propane stoves and camping equipment. A helpful hint is to keep all like equipment together so you can find it. If you can’t find it, you haven’t got it. This includes canning equipment, tools for the garden, garden seeds, camping and recreational equipment, medical supplies, batteries, flashlights, candles and all other emergency supplies. Remember, organization is the key.

Storage of wheat and other grains and beans is all right in the garage because the freezing temperatures will kill bug infestation. The garage should be vented to let out the heat in the summer. All non-grain or bean items should be kept inside a room that stays between 40-60 degrees F.

Do not store food in an attic because it will get too hot and the food could perish quickly. If the washer and dryer are located in your food storage room they must be ventilated properly to prevent moisture on the food. Freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters should not be located in your storage room because they all give off heat, increasing the temperature.

Seal all cracks and crevices where mice or insects might get in. Keep mouse or rat poison hidden in the room. Mice will ruin any unsealed buckets or cardboard containers. I have personally thrown away a lot of food because the mice have gotten into it, especially the wrapped items like yeast and Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) or military meals.

The mice can eat right through the Mylar® foil. Keep all of these items in buckets with good sealing lids.

I have also had moth infestation. The little worm larvae eat right through the Mylar® also.

Heavy plastic containers, jars or metal cans with tight-fitting lids will keep mice and insects out. Also stick a bay leaf in with grains, flour, beans, legumes and similar items to keep them from getting bug infested.

Do not leave any food items that have not been sealed properly on the shelves for any length of time. The most common insects are ants, roaches, earwigs, moths, silverfish and flour infestation insects such as beetles or weevils.

If you spill any food, clean it up immediately. If your room becomes bug-infested, clean out all infested food items. Throw them away. Clean all shelves with an insecticide such as Malathion or Diazinon; and spray all cracks and crevices. Do not spray it directly on food or equipment.

Never store chemicals in the same room as the food.

Organize the equipment that you have on hand and decide what equipment you need to purchase, according to the chart in my book, Food Storage 101: Where Do I Begin?, and the needs of your family.

Some of this equipment could include a Dutch oven, propane cook stove, electric grain mill, hand grain mill, juicer, canning equipment, vacuum sealer and a pressure cooker.

Other things to remember: Gather a 3-month supply of any prescription medications you can’t do without, plus any over-the-counter medications you use regularly; store one gallon of water per person per day (minimum three month’s supply); and if you plan to garden, gather any seeds you will need. Some good choices are sweet corn, garden peas, summer squash, banana squash, cucumbers, beets, carrots, cabbage, celery, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and spinach.

And a good book on how to cook with what you’ve stored can also come in handy. I have several available on my website, www.peggylayton.com.

Prepare Your Own Personal Home Grocery Store And Pharmacy

 “Food in the basement is better than money in the bank.”

There are many reasons for stockpiling a one-year supply of food. The value of food commodities generally increases at the same rate as inflation. Money in the bank doesn’t do that. Investing in 500 cans of tuna fish in your basement or dehydrated food that will last five to 10 years is a better bet than putting $350 in the bank.

The most important reason to store food is that it comes in very handy in a crisis of any kind. Whether it be a large emergency such as an earthquake, flood, volcano eruption, war, strike or economic crash, or something as personal as being laid off work, moving or helping other family members that are down and out or when cash is short, it is comforting to know that you can use your home grocery store to help buffer lean money times. If you had to live on what you had in your basement for an extended period of time, you would wish you had a well-rounded supply of food.

In general, most households do not have more than a one-week supply of food. Let’s face it, as a nation, we rely almost totally on the supermarket and fast food restaurants. An average family of four spends $750 or more per month on food. As the children grow up, the price increases. That is double the amount spent 10 years ago. In the past five years inflation on food has risen more than anything else has. Your best investment right now is FOOD!

If you ask any supermarket chain manager to tell you how long it would take to empty the shelves in any store in the event of a crises, the answer would be approximately three days. They just don’t keep that much in their warehouses. And if there were a trucking problem it would be less. People would storm the grocery stores and buy anything they could get. The water is the first thing that goes.

I strongly suggest that you find a place in your home, either in a basement, spare bedroom, closet, junk room, under the stairway or heated garage, and go to work turning it into your own home grocery store and pharmacy. Somehow get shelves in there, build them, have them built or buy them pre-built. Whatever works best for you. Just do it, now.

This “home grocery store” will be to you and your family as the ark was to Noah and his family. It will contain all the necessary food, water, bedding and medical supplies to sustain life for a minimum of three months to one year.

So what are the best kinds of food to stock pile? It is recommended that you “store what you eat and eat what you store” otherwise you might get sick. A crisis is not the time to change your family’s diet.

Appetite fatigue is a very serious condition. Food storage experiments have been conducted where people had mock disasters and lived on their basic food storage for extended periods of time.

If you are suddenly thrown into a diet that you are not used to, especially one with a lot of wheat, beans, corn, honey, powdered milk and dehydrated food, you will have a double crisis. One thing we do not need in an emergency is a sickness caused by a drastic change in our diet.

It is best to incorporate these foods into your diet gradually. These are the foods that store well for long term and, to rehydrate them, you just need to add water, so they are good to have in your storage along with any canned goods that you like. The shelf life on canned goods is approximately two years and dehydrated food up to 10 years.

There is nothing wrong with storing wheat, beans, rice, powdered milk and honey, if that is what you are used to and prefer. Some people have allergies to wheat and they learn this when they change their diet. Store a variety of wheat and other grains, along with flour, oatmeal, rice, noodles, evaporated milk, beans, peas, lentils, legumes, canned meats, tuna fish, canned salmon, soup of all kinds, tomatoes, sauces of all kinds, all baking items, shortening, oils, peanut butter, jams, syrups, salad dressings, mayonnaise, Jell-O, cocoa, bottled fruits and vegetables and many other dehydrated products.

Nothing should be kept for more than two years without rotating except the following: wheat, grains, beans, sugar, salt and any product that is nitrogen packed for long term storage and has a low oxygen content.

If people store what they eat and eat what they store, the rotation will automatically take care of itself. Rotating your food so your family gets accustomed to eating the grains, beans, honey and dehydrated products is very important.

missing image file
Shelves built to accommodate buckets of bulk food.

Always replace each item as it is used up so you can maintain your stockpile. Purchase cases of items when they come on sale. Our hometown grocery store has case lot sales about four times a year. The best prices are when items are in season. I buy wet pack corn and beans in the fall when they are two cans for $1. When tuna fish comes on sale I buy three or four cases. It’s an excellent source of protein and I save a lot of money by purchasing in bulk.

A sample formula for knowing how much food to store is to keep track of what you eat for a two-week period of time. Surprisingly most families repeat meals every few days. Multiply the basic ingredients by six to calculate a three-month supply, 13 for a six-month supply and 26 to calculate a year’s supply. Separate menus can be calculated for summer and winter taking into consideration gardening and seasonal foods available. Build your own stockpile slowly, over a six-month period of time.

A hint that has helped me to obtain extra food items: Every time I go to the grocery store I get two of each item that I normally buy, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, pickles, olives, cream soups, mayonnaise, salad dressing, spaghetti sauces, mixes, etc. I put one away and use the other. It’s a good idea to keep adding more and more of a variety of items to your home grocery store, so your diet won’t be so bland.

Planned menus can eliminate the panic feeling you get when you know you should store food and you don’t know where to begin. I have included a chart in my book, Food Storage 101. Where do I begin?, to plan menus for two weeks. It asks you to list every ingredient to make sure you have each item on hand.

If you plan your food storage program out carefully you can avoid impulse or panic buying which will save you a lot of money and grief. Anticipate your needs for a three-month period of time. Buy bulk food in larger quantities and store them in plastic food grade buckets that have airtight lids. Do not use paint buckets or any other container that has been used for chemicals. Do not use garbage bags, as they are treated with pesticides. A food grade Mylar liner inside a plastic bucket works very well with an oxygen absorber vacuum packed and sealed.

A No. 10 (1 gallon) can is the best way to store smaller quantities. (We will be discussing the different methods of storing bulk food in an upcoming article.)

Store your food in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in a place that stays a constant temperature of around 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot or cold fluctuations in temperatures can destroy the nutritive value of the food and shorten its shelf life. A basement or cold storage area is ideal. I realize that some people don’t have a basement, that’s why it is so important to plan a space that can stay cooler than the rest of the house.

Always label every can, bottle or bucket with what is in each container, the date of purchase, shelf life, and the date to be used by.

missing image file

A Three Month Well Rounded Food Storage Plan
A three-month well-rounded supply of food storage is much better than a year’s supply of wheat, beans, honey and powdered milk. The basics are important, but it is just the beginning.

I have created a plan of action and divided it into six steps. Each month you can work on one step and after six months you will have a three month or more supply of food storage, vitamins, minerals, clothing, bedding, fuel, medical supplies and non-food items to sustain your family in a crisis.

I will be writing two articles per month. In these articles I will cover all six steps, and if you are serious about getting prepared, you can make it a goal to follow this plan. Then you will quickly have your own three-month supply of the essentials and receive the peace of mind of knowing that you are not dependant on the government or anyone else.

Next time we will begin with step one of my six-step plan for storing food. I will be discussing one or two steps per month and breaking it down into bite sized steps so it isn’t overwhelming and can be done in a timely manner.

The goal is to acquire a three-month, well rounded stock of food so you will be prepared for any situation where you may need to use it.

This information came from my books Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? and Emergency Food Storage and Survival Guide. For more about the books I have written go to my website and click on Peggy’s books.

—Peggy Layton