9 Ideas for Rotating Emergency Water Storage

Once you’ve decided how to store your water, one of the steps you’ll need to take in order to keep it safe to drink is to rotate it regularly.

How often you rotate it will depend on how you store it, but will likely be anywhere from every six months – every 5 years.

Don't JUST store water. Make certain it is safe to use when you need it. Rotating stored emergency water is one way to do this and I've got nine ideas that should make it simple!

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How To Store Water:

If you aren’t sure how to store your emergency water yet, you can learn more from the following two posts:


Rotating Emergency Water Storage Can Be Tricky

Some water rotation happens naturally.  For example, rotating through our commercially bottled water is easy: we just drink them and recycle the bottles!  Obviously we go through a bit more during soccer and park season than we do in the winter, but those bottles get rotated naturally.

However, other types of water storage containers can be trickier (especially the big 55 gallon drums or 150+ gallon tanks…you’ll need a pump or siphon in order to get the water out.).  You don’t want to “waste” the old water, right?

Today I have some tips to help you use that “old” water:


Ideas for Rotating Stored Emergency Water:

  1. Water plants, grass and gardens with your stored water.
  2. Use the stored water to have a family water fight!
  3. Wash your cars as a family with your stored water (who knows, maybe that will turn into a fun fight too!)
  4. Use it to flush your toilets for a week or two.
  5. Water the lawn before the irrigation water is available in the spring.
  6. Fill the kiddie pool and let the kids have a party!
  7. Use it in water bath canning
  8. Take your 5 gallons jugs camping with you (remember to bring a spigot)

One more suggestion (last, but not least):  #9) Make rotation a more regular event instead of an occasional one

By this I mean, USE your “emergency” stored water regularly.  Use it daily / weekly for things like watering plants, boiling / cooking, bathing pets etc.  As you empty one large container, fill it up and start emptying the next.

Pull out those 5 gallon jugs and spigot or water bricks and spigot  and use them at the sink for a day instead of your tap water.

If you’ve stored your water appropriately, it is perfectly safe to use in any of your every day activities.



Don't JUST store water. Make certain it is safe to use when you need it. Rotating stored emergency water is one way to do this and I've got nine ideas that should make it simple!


Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

10 thoughts on “9 Ideas for Rotating Emergency Water Storage”

  1. I put the recommended 1/2 teaspoon of pure Clorox for every 10 gallons in my 55 gal drum. I have 3 barrels. To rotate the water can I run it onto the lawn or will the chlorine be bad for it? I hate just wasting it.

  2. Hi Misty!
    I joined your 30 day preparedness challenge late and only have days 7 to 19. Could you email me the challenges for days 1 through 6 so I have all of them?

  3. Love how well you put things down. In easy order.
    Great writer.
    I help people make kits for school and homes.
    Everyone kept asking me to make them a kit. I will share you info on my Facebook page.

  4. I have a hot tub 400 gal. when it is time to change the water, I will use my stored water. I have a TDS Meter ( total dissolved solids ) The meter tells me when it is time to change water

  5. You need to rotate the water because it will grow bacteria over time. There are enough nutrients for that. It isn’t sterile, ya’ know….Use it up as time goes by with whatever you’re not drinking. Then replace it. BTW….bacteria reproduce faster in warmer temps…..

  6. Great question! Right now, there is only one commercially marketed water treatment allowed in California: Water Preserver, a liquid chlorine derivative that will keep water drinkable for 5 years. Bleach will work for 6-12 months. But even with these treatments, your water must be stored away from light and heat. That is not a reality for most people. I tend to be on the conservative side. I have to store my 55 gallon drums outside (light and heat) and many people in my area have had problems with mold in their drums. So, I rotate mine every six months and keep a filter so I can still use it if it is contaminated for any reason.

  7. It was my understanding that as long as you used water treatment with your 55gal, it didn't have to be changed but every 5 years.


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