Water Storage for Families

Facts on Water for Water Storage

Tests over the past several years have demonstrated that water may be stored for indefinite periods of time without spoilage if simple precautions are taken. Water storage for emergency use is extremely important because water is more essential than food in sustaining the emergency periods. Here are the facts and instructions on the storage of safe water:


Jugs, bottles, jars or other containers made of glass or polyethylene (heavy plastic) with tight-fitting caps or tops are the most suitable (metal containers, with the exception of proper canning containers, have the disadvantage of possible corrosion and tend to give water an unpleasant taste). Containers must be thoroughly clean.


At least one (1) gallon per day per person for a two week period, or a minimum of 14 gallons per person, for drinking and food preparation.


Preferably from the source normally used by the family for drinking purposes because the family members are accustomed to its taste and mineral quality.

If there is any doubt as to the bacterial safety of water for storage, it must be purified by boiling vigorously for one to three minutes or by adding laundry bleach in accordance with the instructions on the bleach bottle. Generally, one-half teaspoon will purify five gallons of clear water, and one teaspoon of bleach will purify cloudy water.

Supplemental Sources

Supplemental emergency water for drinking, washing, food preparation, and for sanitation may be obtained from hot water tanks, toilet tanks, or other utility sources within the building. Some need for liquids for drinking also can be met by fruit juice, soft drinks or water packed foods, such as tomatoes.

Shelf Life

If stored in clean containers and if safe bacteriological at the time of storage, water will remain safe because disease organisms tend to die out with storage.

Potable water stored in glass or polyethylene containers will remain safe, but may change somewhat in appearance, taste, or odor. Although some of these qualities may be disagreeable, they will not harm you. Stored water should be checked every few months to determine whether containers have leaked or if any undesirable characteristics have developed in appearance, taste or odor. If so, the water may be replaced.

Because water quality varies throughout the country, no set rule can be given for shelf-life. Current experience shows, however, that some water containers cannot be distinguished by appearance, taste, or odor from freshly-drawn water from the same tap.