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Top 5 Tips For Emergency Water Storage
by Wayne Bennett

There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to emergency water storage. Such as, how do I store it? What are the safe methods to store long-term emergency water? And of course, how much emergency water should my family store?

1. So how much is enough? Whether storing for earthquakes, floods, etc. store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 7 days. I would suggest 3 weeks. Don't forget you are going to need water for not only drinking, food preparation, sanitation and first aid. Hand washing will become very important in a disaster to cut the risk of disease and infection. You can't have too much water.

2. How you store your water is critical for water safety. If you buy your water at the grocery store in plastic one gallon containers, you must realize that the plastic container is made of permeable plastic. It breathes, which means that bacteria and other contaminants can enter the container affecting water safety. They are not designed for long-term storage. Do not store these containers in the garage or on the concrete because the concrete along with exhaust, pesticides, paints, solvents, etc can leach into the water supply.

3. Do not store your water in old bleach bottles. When the bleach residue is mixed with tap water it will release harmful contaminants from the plastic bottles into your drinking water. The plastic bottles used with bleach were never intended for water storage or human consumption.

4. Never add bleach to your water storage, it does nothing to extend shelf life and only contaminates your water. The EPA website lists bleach as a pesticide. Bleach can contain mercury and arsenic. There are dozens of websites that recommend its use for purification. I believe it should only be used as a last resort form of water treatment when you have no other way to make your water safe. A preferred and safer method would be to use a product called "Water Purification Tablets", these iodine based tablets kill bacteria and microorganisms. One tablet per quart for clear water, two tablets for dirty water. And of course, you can always boil water at a roll for at least five minutes to purify if you have the ability.

5. Storing untreated water in the wrong containers with the addition of heat and light can lead to growing bacteria to levels that could lead to dysentery. This could in occur three to twelve months depending on how and where they are stored. Hot garage vs cool dark closet. Don't forget, if you live in earthquake country, don't store your supplies in the weakest part of the house, the garage. Garages only have 3 walls (garage doors do not provide structural support) and those large openings become the weak link in your home.

So what is the safe and correct way to store emergency water long-term? The best method is to use a product called "Water Preserver". This product is EPA approved for the storage of long-term emergency water. because of its potency it kills all the bacteria in the water and the inside of the barrel leaving you with sterile water for 5 years. The Water Preserver must be used in combination with containers that are not clear and have caps that are airtight. These containers should be made of a safe plastic intended for long-term storage.

Wayne Bennett is a twenty six year fire captain in southern California. He is also the owner of Survival Skills & Co. a business specializing in Disaster Response training for Schools and Businesses. He has trained over 30,000 persons since 1991 how to save lives in his one day "Disaster Survival Skills" workshops. His company also provides realistic kits and supplies for disaster preparedness. His company also provides SEMS & NIMS training, CPR & First Aid classes.

He is a FEMA CERT instructor, American Heart Assoc. Instructor, National Safety Council training center. His training includes Urban Search and Rescue training, Swift water rescue, Ice rescue, High/low angle rope rescue, CSTI earthquake management, etc. Visit his website at

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