Water Storage – for Long Term Survival and Quality of Life

Long term water storage

Water is Key in any disaster. I have gone over the importance before   but now to cover storage. FEMA advises you to have 3 days of water on hand at any given time. You might want to have more on hand if you are in a secluded area or an area that is prone to disasters. After reading around for a bit it would seem that about 2 weeks of water is the ideal number to have in your water storage.

How much water is that

Well you will want about 1 gallon per person per day. Half for cleaning half for drinking. That would be 14 gallons per person in long term storage. That is just over 50 gallons for a family of 4.

You can go above this amount up to whatever amount you feel is good to have in your water storage. I would personally start off at this benchmark and expand as you feel comfortable.

Types of storage


  • Bottles / store bought
  • Rain water barrel

Each of these types has more I will expand on below.


Water Bottles

This could be just cases of the store bought water bottles. or the 10 gallon jugs. If they have the original seal on them than they should be good almost indefinitely with little to no care.

If you have filled them yourself then you must take precautions to avoid bacteria contamination turning your water into something you don’t want to drink.

Here is a good article from the center for disease control and prevention, On how to sanitize bottles to store water.

Before filling with safe water, use these steps to clean and sanitize water storage containers:

  1. Wash the storage container with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely with clean water.

  2. Sanitize the container with a solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach in one quart of water.

  3. Cover the container and shake it well so that the sanitizing bleach solution touches all inside surfaces of the container.

  4. Wait at least 30 seconds and then pour the sanitizing solution out of the container.

  5. Let the empty sanitized container air-dry before use OR rinse the empty container with clean, safe water that is available already.

Water bottles are good for on demand water and short supplies, but i would go with another rout for storage of larger amounts of water.



You can manually store water in 55 gallon rain barrels for larger water storage options.

Two drums like this will hold enough water for a family of 4 for about a month. Only issue with them is storage room needed and portability.

If you are restricted in space than this is not going to work. As well if you do need to Bug Out this is not going to be able to go with you.

As long as you sanitize these and seal them water will last forever in them. Water does not go bad it is contaminants in it that makes it bad.

Rain water

You can aso collect rainwater and use that. You just need to put extra care into maintaining it. Since it is unprotected outside you will want to filter and sanitize rainwater before drinking it.

This ties into a cistern as well but I will expand on that in another article.


Backup water

  • Water filter. I have a filter straw in my bug-out bag. You can produce about 1 liter of clean water per minute with it. You definitely can’t rely on it for your primary source of clean water. It’s just a supplement.
  • Purification tablets. I have some iodine and sodium chlorite tablets for purification as well.
  • Fuel and stove to boil water. Finally, I have Jetboil and fuel in my bug-out bag so I can boil water to purify it.

Rotate water

You don’t NEED to. But in an attempt to keep water tasting fresh and to check on quality so you can adjust accordingly I would advise to drain and refill water annually.

You can find cases of people drinking water after half a decade of storage, But I like to do quality checks. I have found a barrel not cleaned properly and the water was foul.

Do I need to boil my stored water before I drink it?

If you have reason to believe that your water has been contaminated, then boil it. If not, don’t. It’s a waste of fuel.

Don’t tell people about your storage

I will cover this more in another article. But keep your storage to your self. When shit goes down you don’t want your entire neighbourhood showing up with there hands out looking for water.

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