Every day, the threat of an emergency looms over us. Whether it be a natural disaster or terrorist attack - we are always one step away from chaos and pandemonium.
As a prepper, one of the most important things to remember in these situations is that you need to plan how you will take care of yourself and your family if disaster strikes.
This includes knowing how to store water long-term for emergencies and what type of containers work best for this purpose.
How much water do you need to store?
Realistically, when prepping, you should store enough water to carry you through a month or more. There are no guarantees in a survival situation that you'll be able to access any fresh water, so the more, the better.
It is recommended to store at least one gallon per person per day to have enough water supply in an emergency.
Most people use more than one gallon per day, however, and you need to think about the other things you'll use water for, like cleaning and sanitation, not just drinking.
You'll also need to store water for your pets, if you have any.
How to store water
You can store water in several ways. You can store it in a rigid container such as plastic milk jugs or use water containers made for this purpose.
In the past, emergency services recommended storing clean water in used soda bottles to conserve space and money. This is not advised because of concerns about leaching chemicals from the plastics into your water supply over time.
Not all containers are made equal, though; here are some of the best and the worst containers to store your emergency water in.
Best containers to store water in
Food grade plastic containers
The best containers to store water in are food-grade plastic containers or stainless steel containers. Food grade means that it won't leach chemicals into your water supply and will be safe to use in an emergency.
Companies make different-sized water bottles and containers made of thicker plastic that will not biodegrade; these are what you want to look for.
Underground water storage
By far the most expensive way to store water, it's also one of the best. This will prevent your living space from becoming cluttered, and it is safe and ready for use for any emergency.
Worst containers to store water in
You've read about the best containers to store water in, now here are the worst. While these methods are still viable, they are not as safe or effective as the methods laid out above.
Disposable plastic water bottles
When most people think about storing water long-term, they think of disposable plastic bottles you can buy in the store.
While this is an option, over time the plastic in these bottles will start to degrade, and develop tiny holes that will leak.
Plastic bottles like these are not really a long-term option because they will need to be replaced at regular intervals, and the chemicals in them could leach into your water supply over time.
At most, you can expect these bottles to last up to a year in storage. If you want to go this route, make sure you have a good system for rotating and using them.
Storing water in glass jars
While it's true that storing your water in glass jars won't result in them biodegrading, the problem with storing water in glass jars is that they are heavy, awkward to transport, and can easily be broken.
If the emergency you end up going through is a hurricane, you can guarantee that you'll be faced with a lot of broken glass and no water.
You also need to worry about the weight and size when storing water in jars, as it can become cumbersome very quickly if your storage area is small or full already.
Where to store your water
You should store your water in the coolest possible place in your home. Heat and light can cause algae growth in the water, which will result in a bad smell and can be possibly harmful if drank. It also causes plastic water bottles to degrade faster.
Keep in mind that if you are using plastic bottles to store water, they are slightly permeable; they can take on the flavor and scent of things they are stored with.
Storing water in your house
The best areas of your house to store water in would be a cool, dark room or closet.
If the room you are storing the water in is exposed to sunlight, be sure that window coverings or curtains can block out most of the light and heat from coming into the space. This will help reduce algae growth in containers stored within it.
Storing water in the garage
Storing water in the garage is one of the worst places of all. Proximity to running vehicles and exhaust, as well as oil and gasoline fumes, will leave your water tasting horrible.
Garages are also more susceptible to extreme temperature fluctuations, affecting the containers your water is stored in. If your water freezes, the containers could crack; the hotter it is stored will cause the container to degrade faster.
Storing water in the basement
If you have a musty, dank basement, this is not going to be the best option to store your water.
It will take on any odours from its surroundings and make it very unpleasant to drink. While it may not necessarily be harmful, storing your water elsewhere can help you avoid this altogether.
It is always recommended to store your water on either pallets or some form of raised ground to not sit in any moisture and isn't exposed to the bare ground.
This will also help to prevent contamination from pests.
Storing water in your car/vehicle
Always keep a supply of water in your vehicle. This is only for short-term storage, though; keeping your water in your car long-term will subject it to high temperatures, affecting the container.
This is good for emergencies or if you need to travel any distance away from home. They make small portable water containers with spigots, which are perfect for ease of use on the go.
How long can you store water for?
Water can be stored indefinitely and does not need to be rotated as much as food does.
This is because water does not have any expiration date, as it's usually the bottle or container that goes bad before the actual water inside can go "bad."
However, you need to keep an eye on your containers and make sure that they are in good condition. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, or if a container has started leaking, replace it immediately.
Heat and light can cause algae to form on the inside surface of the bottles, which can cause bacterial growth.
The quality of containers can significantly affect how long they will last before anything starts going wrong.
How to keep your stored water from going bad
You can prevent the water that you have stored from going bad by using suitable containers that are made for water storage, keeping your containers away from light and heat.
You can also treat your water before you store it and sanitize your bottles, lengthening the time until it starts to go bad.
How to sanitize your water containers
You can sanitize your containers by mixing 1 quart of water with 1 teaspoon of bleach, putting the solution in the container, and capping and shaking the bottle.
Let the bleach solution sit in the container for 1 minute at minimum, then pour out the solution and let the container air dry.
Lids and caps should be soaked separately.
Treating your water before storage
Depending on your water source (such as well water), you may need to treat it before storing it to prevent any bad bacteria from growing in your water.
You can treat your water by adding 2 drops of unscented bleach to every gallon of water you store or use water preserver drops or tablets.
This isn't a major concern if you store bottled, filtered or boiled water.
Rotating your stored water
Depending on where and in which container you have your water in, rotating may not be an issue.
For water stored in cheap plastic bottles, rotating is a must to keep your water fresh, good tasting, and avoid any bottle degradation.
By storing your water properly, away from heat and light, treating it before storage, and using proper containers, you will only need to rotate it approximately every 5 years.
Make sure to label the bottles with the date it was stored, and check your supply every six months or so. Cheap plastic bottles will have to be swapped out with new ones.
Final thoughts on how to store water long term
There are many ways to store water long-term when you're prepping for an emergency, but they aren't all the same. Some containers will last much longer than others, so it is important to choose wisely.
If you store your water properly, it will last for a very long time.
How do you store your water? Let us know your tips in the comments below!