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.
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.
250 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
Amount of bleach to add to clear water
Amount of bleach to add to cloudy water
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: 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