3 basics of water storage for beginners from Simple Family Preparedness: https://simplefamilypreparedness.com/?p=4157Photo Credit: Greg Riegler Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/gfrphoto/1695650382/sizes/n/

I talk a lot on this site about food.  And I guess that is to be expected since I love to eat!  But, truly, water ought to be the very first layer of our emergency disaster plan.  Water is essential to life.  Without it, we only have 3 days to live.

Yet, I think this incredibly important topic often gets overlooked for a few reasons:

  1. We can’t truly imagine life without water.  We use it all day, every day, it is next to free and we tend to take it for granted.
  2. If you get past #1, your start to realize that you will need a LOT of water and it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

Today, I want to talk about the 3 basics of water storage and then give you some additional resources to make this project seem a little  less overwhelming.


Tip #1: Know how much you need to sustain life and then store that much NOW!

FEMA recommends 1 gallon per person per day for a minimum of 3 days.  This is enough water to drink / sustain life with just a little left over to clean wounds and prepare just a bit of food.   You may think, yes, but I don’t drink a gallon / day now.  No, you likely don’t, but you also likely get a lot of water from your food right now!  Fruits / veggies have a LOT of water, but almost everything you eat has some water in it.  If you are eating dry foods, you will not have that water source and will need to supplement.  Your body uses 2-3 quarts of water each day just through sweat, breathing and urine.  Err on the side of caution!

Check the chart below for the minimum amount of water your family should store based on FEMA’s recommendation:

Family of 1 3 gallons
Family of 2 6 gallons
Family of 3 9 gallons
Family of 4 12 gallons
Family of 5 15 gallons
Family of 6 18 gallons
Family of 7 21 gallons
Family of 8 24 gallons

That isn’t much water to store even for a family of 8!  I’d venture to say that anyone of you can do that, even if you live in a small apartment!  I challenge you to get it done THIS WEEK if you haven’t already.  Clean and refill a few soda bottles or non-refrigerated juice bottles (do not use milk or refrigerated juice bottles), pick up a few 24 pkg of water or use something innovative like water bricks and you’ve got that first layer of security for your family!

Whew! That wasn’t too hard!


Tip #2: Water isn’t just for drinking!

Can you imagine living for more than a day or two without being able to do your laundry, flush your toilet, shower, wash dishes, prepare food, brush your teeth, etc?  We truly do use water every day, all day!  In fact, the average American uses 100-150 gallons of water per day when everything is normal.  So, the one gallon per day recommended above would be quite the adjustment!  You’d survive for the 3 days, but it wouldn’t be pretty or clean!  And what if water was unavailable / unusable for more than 3 days?

  • You will need additional water if you have infants or are pregnant or nursing.
  • You will need additional water if it is warmer than average where you live.
  • You will need additional water if all your food is dehydrated (most freeze dried foods can be eaten dry if needed, but most dehydrated foods have to be hydrated to be edible).
  • You will need additional water if you have a serious medical emergency
  • You will need additional water to truly stay sanitary, especially if the situation lasts more than 3 days.

Plan accordingly.  Here is what my personal goals were / are for our family over the last few years:

Step #1: Store 1 gallon per person per day for 3 days (18 gallons for us). Thumbs up  I did this with two 24 pkg of water bottles and three 5 gallon water grade containers.
Step #2 Store 5-6 gallons per person per day for 3 days (90-110 gallons for us) Thumbs up  I added two 55 gallon water grade containers.
Step #3 Store 5 gallons per person per day for 1 week (210 gallons for us) Thumbs up  I added a third 55 gallon container, three more 24 pkg of water bottles and 3 more 5 gallon containers.
Step #4 Layer (See Tip #3 Below) Thumbs up We have water in multiple types of containers in multiple places.  We also have water bottle filters, a water filter pump, water filter we can attach to our faucet and a few Aqua Pails.
Step #5 Store 5 gallons per person per day for 1 month (900 gallons for us) Working on it….we have about 350 gallons total right now.

Now, your family plan might be a bit different depending on your needs, where you live, the type of food storage you have, how long you can stand to go without a bath etc.  But the principle is the same:  While your first goal with water storage should be to store enough to sustain life, if your access to water is cut off for more than a couple of days, you will need more!

And by way of encouragement, you don’t need to do all that now!  I’ve completed the first 4 steps above, but it took me a couple of years!  Just pat yourself on the back each time to add to your family’s store of water!


Tip #3: Layer Your Water Storage:

By this I mean three things:

1.  Store water in lots different types / sizes of containers.

You will never be able to move a 55 gallon water container when filled, so you will want something smaller if you need to leave.  But the 55 gallon container will be much simpler both now and if you need it at home later.

2.  Store water in multiple places.

You should have water anywhere you might be during a disaster: in your home, cars, a bit at work, and in your survival kits.

3.  Realize that you simply won’t be able to store all the water you may need and plan accordingly. 

No matter how much water you store, a disaster could potentially last longer than what you planned for.  In addition, the water you do have stored may become contaminated (or you may have stored it improperly) and you will need to make it safe to drink again.  So, add an extra layer of protection!

It is likely you will be able to find another water source eventually.  In fact, your running water may even still be on, but not be safe to drink.  Or, you may live near a lake, stream, pond or river.   Plan to make use of those water sources: Store things that will allow you to make unsafe water safe to drink.  Store purification tablets, water filtering water bottles, water filters, and my favorite, the Aqua Pail.  And be sure to read this post which lists free ways you can make water safe to drink if you don’t have the budget to purchase any of the above mentioned items!


For some additional tips about water storage check out the following articles here on my site: