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About Long Term Water Storage


55 gallon drum Water that we take for granted when things are normal becomes absolutely critical in times of an emergency. This is an area you can't afford to overlook in your preparedness preparations. Fact: "The human body can't survive even one week without water". In general terms, the human body requires 4 times as much water as food. Therefore, for every pound of food consumed in one day, it is necessary to consume about 4 pounds of water (which is about 1/2 gallon).

NOTE: The easiest way to store the bulk of your water storage is in 55 gallon polyethylene (plastic) water storage drums (FDA approved for storing drinking water). You simply fill the drums up with your own tap water. The drums offered by 21st Century Food Storage are the best industry has to offer, and are designed to have weight stacked on them when filled with water, this allows you to stack your food on top of them and save space while keeping your food storage and water storage together. We recommend two 55 gallon drums of water storage per person, this along with collecting "rain" water should be suitable. Before filling a drum with water, make sure the NPT plug (fine thread; non-white cap) is not positioned next to a wall etc. It should be on the top front side of the drum for easy access, because this is the bung hole that the drum pumps thread into.

Remember also that you have several sources of water already in your home that can be tapped in an emergency such as your hot water heater, toilet tanks (don't use water from a tank that contains colored disinfectant, it is poisonous), water pipes, ice in the freezer, etc. Water is relatively inexpensive to store and certainly not difficult to do - but certainly the time to store is now.

It is also a good idea to have a water filter in addition to your water storage drums. This would allow you to purify dirty water from lakes, rivers, creeks, etc. 21st Century Food Storage offers The British Berkefeld® Emergency Water & Camping Filter - the original gravity filtration system used by thousands of missionaries worldwide. No water pressure or pumping required. High tech ceramic filter system. Time tested for over 140 years. The "Super Sterasyl" filters reduce up to 99.99% of particulates, cysts, parasites and pathogenic bacteria. See "Water Filtration" in our on-line store for details.


Various sources recommend home storage of a two week supply of water. The amount often recommended is seven gallons per person for drinking and food preparation, and another seven gallons per person for other limited uses such as hand washing, teeth brushing and dish washing (total fourteen gallons per person for two weeks). It should be noted that this amount is enough for sustenance purposes only, two quarts for drinking and two quarts for cleaning and bathing etc. per day. When you consider that a household normally uses in excess of 50 gallons of water per day for drinking, bathing, laundry, dishes, flushing the toilet etc., this isn't a lot of water. If you have the room to store more you will probably want to do so. Both glass and plastic containers are commonly used for long term water storage at home. Containers should be clean and sanitary. Glass containers are breakable and somewhat heavy compared to plastic, but they are not permeable to vapors and gases, the amount of leaching (dissolving) of chemicals from glass into water is insignificant. Plastic containers are lightweight and substantially more resistant to breakage than glass.

If plastic containers are used, care should be taken to assure that they are made of plastic approved for food contact by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Polyethylene plastic is approved for food contact and is commonly used for containers of various sizes, including large 55 gallon drums. Certain types of plastic containers are not intended for food contact (such as vinyl plastic waterbeds, or trash containers) and may leach undesirable chemicals into stored water. Leaching of chemicals from approved plastics is negligible.


For long term water storage, tap water should be sterilized or disinfected in thoroughly cleaned plastic or glass containers. Water can be chemically disinfected for long-term storage by treating each gallon with 16 drops of liquid chlorine bleach (Clorox or Purex type bleaches, containing 4% to 6% sodium hypochlorite; do not Picture of '93 flooduse scented bleach). One teaspoon of bleach disinfects five gallons of water. Three tablespoons will disinfect 55 gallons of water. This level of treatment will kill bacteria and viruses and prevent the growth of microorganisms during storage. Also check with your local water plant for any additional information they may have for you.

Water stored in plastic containers should not be stored near gasoline, kerosene, pesticides or similar substances. Vapors from these substances could permeate the plastic and affect the water. Thick-walled polyethylene containers are significantly less permeable to vapors than are thin walled containers. Be certain, when selecting a water storage container, that it has a tight fitting cap or lid to prevent entrance of contaminants and evaporation of water. Because sunlight has an adverse effect on plastic, water should be stored away from direct exposure to sunlight. Store in a cool, dry area with no sunlight, like the basement.

Studies show sterilized or disinfected water, stored in clean, food-approved containers with secure lids or caps should be safe for use even after many years of storage. Replacement of stored water with fresh water should be necessary only if the stored water becomes contaminated in some way or if the container should begin to leak. Be certain to label each container so there will be no question about its contents. Include the date and information on the method of disinfection used. We recommend changing properly stored water every three to five years.

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