How Much Water Should I Store?

How Much Water Should I Store?

Why Should I Store Water:

We all know that there is no element more important to human life than water.  Fortunately, most of us enjoy an abundance of extremely cheap, potable water that ‘magically’ flows into our house from ‘elsewhere.’  Unfortunately, the very ease with which we access potable water day-to-day blinds us to our need to store water just in case.  Here are just of few of the reasons to store water in your home:

  1. Weather can interrupt your access to your water supply.  Municipal sources rely on water mains that frequently break during weather extremes (both hot, dry weather and extended cold spells).  A drought that lasts long enough or even overuse can dry out the longest river, largest reservoir, or biggest aquifer.
  2. Pollutants can enter the water distribution system.  “Boil order” are two words that you want to hear before breakfast if your neighborhood is affected.  Boil orders are usually related to a water main break.  Surface water sources like rivers and reservoirs are vulnerable to accidental pollutants…think of the affects of a tanker trailer of benzene going over a bridge just upstream from your municipal water intake or a train derailment…those train tracks are conveniently located along many of our major waterways.  Water treatment plants can work magic but some pollutants are surely beyond their capabilities.  Floods are especially damaging to surface and subsurface (subsurface open to the surface… like wells) as floods pick up and disperse pollutants.
  3. Intentional tampering or terrorism.  Unlike what you see on television and in the movies our surface water sources are fairly safe due to modern treatment methods and the ‘solution to pollution being dilution.’  It would likely take truckloads or a trainload of poison to become an effective terror attack at the source waters but lesser amounts it could potentially shut down a municipal water system…and shutting down the system is the most likely affect.  However, terrorism targeting a water system from within the treatment facility or ‘downstream’ is certainly a possibility.
  1. A handy supply of water is helpful and saves time if you are forced to bug-out.  Just make sure to store at least some of your water in containers that match your bug-out carrying capability (truck, car, bike, public transportation, on foot, etc.)

How Much Water Should I Store:


The experts vary a little in how much water storage they recommend… from 1 gallon per person per day according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) up to 3 Gallons per person per day in hot, dry climates per the Army and Marine Corps in FM 21-10, MCRP 4-11.1D, FIELD HYGIENE AND SANITATION (approved for public release; distribution is unlimited).  In addition to climate storage differences, children, nursing mothers and the sick require additional water.

Vary your water storage (per day) as you see fit for your individual situation but there’s no reason to store less than a gallon of water per person per day because it’s so cheap and easy.  Expect to use about 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) for drinking and cooking and about the same amount for sanitation each day.

When deciding how many days of water to store you must consider your individual situation even more.  The Red Cross recommends three days worth of water for bugging-out and two weeks for bugging-in.  However, this model is overly simplistic in my opinion.  You must consider the availability and potability of your backup water supplies…and your backup to the backup water supplies when deciding how much water to store.

A prepper I know stores a months worth of treated water at his home, has a small pond 70 feet from his home that’s a viable backup over half the year and access to a spring fed lake a quarter mile away.  He’s got a primary source for short term emergencies, a viable backup (if not year round) and a year round backup to the backup.  He also keeps a wagon and food grade 5 gallon buckets to transport water.

Your own situation may have better backup water options or more difficult access to water.  Vary accordingly.

Tune in on Sunday for tips on how to safely and economically store water in your home.

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