As Practical Preppers’ Scott Hunt explains, storing water is probably the most important thing that a prepper can do—and it’s one of the easiest measures to take, as well. Here we will deal with water storage for preppers as an integral part of a preparedness plan.
Stored water must be pure, treated water to prevent microbial growth, and stored in food-grade containers.
There are several gallons of clean water in the water heater and piping within your home at all times. There are several possible contaminants that you need to consider when making a selection for emergency water: bacteria, protozoa, viruses and chemicals are all possible contaminants that make water unsafe to drink.
If the water source is not chlorinated, household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) should be added. Calcium Hypochlorite more commonly known as Pool Shock, is one of our preferred methods for water purification.
Since some treatment equipment is easier to store than water, and you never know the nature of the disturbance that will necessitate the need for water, we recommend preparing for at least one treatment option in addition to storing water. Commercially packaged water can be stored for about 5 years; home filled stored water should be changed annually.
Stored water must be pure and disinfected to prevent microbial growth, then stored in food-grade containers (water from the tap stores well). These are convenient, clean, you can pick the taste you prefer, and they are sealed for longer storage.
You may close the inlet valve immediately after the water supply is disrupted and use the water in your water heater. This will not protect against contamination of the water supply but would be a good source of water for non-potable needs. Since it is hard to determine whether you have cleaned out all of the bleach these are technically not suitable for potable water but may be used for sanitation needs.
There are several commercially available devices that use UV light to disinfect small containers of water.
The effectiveness of UV light treatment will be significantly diminished the dirtier or cloudier the water is.
Most people do not like the taste of boiled water and it takes a long time for the water temperature to reduce to consumable levels.

Also, feel free to download this excellent infographic on water storage basics for preppers.
If you’re storing tap water or water from some other source, you probably should replace it every six months. If a natural disaster occurs, such as an earthquake, you should assume that the public water supply is no longer safe to drink and this may be your safest source of drinking water. Contaminated or suspect water can be treated at home during an emergency to make it safe for consumption. The higher the elevation, the longer you need boil the water to kill the same pathogens (as much as 12 minutes in the high mountains). Treating water instead of storing it will save space but relies on a water source and one may not be available. Stored water will go flat but can be aerated prior to consumption by pouring it between two containers a few times. In this case the water should be filtered through a clean cloth and allowed to settle before UV treatment is applied. Since much of the water is lost to evaporation, this is not a good option if water supply is limited.
And while you can get away with using recycled or “grey” water for toilets, you need clean water that’s free of dangerous pathogens for everything else. There are even more expensive stainless steel water tanks, which manufacturers claim are more resistant to bacteria and mold growth, and less vulnerable to fire damage. To improve the taste of water stored for a long time, pour it from one clean container to another clean container several times, to put air back into it. The easy availability of clean drinking water right now often makes us complacent about our water storage.
After securing the safety of your family members, please isolate your home from the public water system by turning of the main water valve to your home. Consider the size, weight (once filled with water), ease of use, rotation and portability of the container you select. Water should also be stored in areas that will not cause damage to the home if the containers leak. Since power disruptions may accompany water emergencies, additional fuel storage should be considered for this treatment option.

Water weighs about eight pounds per gallon and a four gallon container will come in at a little over 32 pounds. My research has found that stored water should be rotated about every six months unless treated with something like Aquamira which is an affordable water treatment. On the downside, that chlorine from your municipal water can corrode steel, so you may want to look for a tank that’s specially lined to cope with that.
If you’re concerned that a water supply may have become contaminated, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service offers this handy guide to storing water, which includes instructions of simple disinfection methods.
However, you cannot assume that the current water infrastructure will be intact after a major disaster or other emergency. This will allow you to use this water even if the public water system has been contaminated. Aesthetic components such as taste, odor, and hardness are not at all harmful to health, but they may be a consideration in the storage or treatment option you choose. However, if water is still available but the safety and quality of the water is suspect, then treatment methods will be useful in making that water safe to drink. Water is delivered to your home through a series of buried pipes of various sizes and materials. Concrete easily changes temperatures and continues to give off moisture for years so you should place a small platform under the water container for air movement. If these pipes are damaged, it could take from a few days up to a few weeks to get them repaired to deliver water to your home again.
Natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes may cause such damage, and pollute or disrupt public water supplies. It is wise to prepare now for such an event by storing appropriate amounts of water that will meet your water needs in an emergency.

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