Emergency water storage is extremely important for everyone, especially preppers. Water is life, literally. We use water for almost everything. In my opinion, it is the single most important prep out there. There are many forms in which you can purchase water and store it. Some are better than others. I’d like to discuss the options here, and you can make your choices to suit your personal needs from there. In this article, I will discuss bottled water, canned water, and rainwater collection. Three very different methods of water storage.
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Bottled water. It is a great short term solution to having water on hand. It’s also pretty inexpensive. So a great beginner prep. We all have to start somewhere, and something is far better than nothing, in my opinion. Bottled water has a shelf life of about 6-12 months before the plastic bottles begin to break down and leach chemicals into the contents of the bottles, which you then consume.
The bottles breaking down also has the potential for leakage. Which is just a mess, and who wants that? I find I keep a couple cases on hand in the winter, when/if we are expecting a snowstorm or bad weather where I may not be able to make it to the store for a few days. It is perfect for situations like that. Or, if I have family coming to stay, I’ll pick up some just in case. It is definitely not a good solution for long term though. But, it is certainly a good starting point for any beginning prepper. We all have to start somewhere!
The key here is if you’re keeping bottled water is use it. Cycle through it just like you would food in your pantry. That way there is no chance for the bottles to break down. I find that I use these in the summer a lot because it is hot, and we throw a bunch in the refrigerator to always have cold water available. I also monitor and document my water consumption, and these make that easy as well. Which translates to, it is pretty easy for me to cycle through them.
Canned water. This is not a great short term solution, because canned water is far more expensive than bottled water. I would not necessarily recommend it for a beginner or someone just looking to wait out a winter storm.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I keep an emergency supply of water, toilet paper, and certain foods in the house that we don’t touch unless it is an emergency. Then I have the normal stuff we use daily. If you’re like me and have a separate stash of supplies just for emergencies, the canned water is an excellent way to go for long term storage, because it has a shelf like of 50 years. 50 years!
I recommend Blue Can Water because of their commitment to quality and shelf life. I personally love the cans. They come in 12 ounce cans, just like soda. They are easily stackable and can withstand high temperatures without damaging the product. I appreciate the fact they are easy to store and don’t take up a ton of room and are stable to stack up high. Packages of bottled water makes me nervous to stack, because it always seems to wobble. That is not the case with the cans. It is the perfect long term storage solution for water in my household.
Rainwater collection. If you own your home or even have a small piece of property where you can store the rainwater barrels, this is an excellent and less expensive alternative to bottled or canned water, collecting it yourself. If you do this, you’ll want to check out state laws about it though. The laws can vary by state, and some even limit the amount of water you can collect and store. So please remember to be informed and stay within the law. Collecting rainwater in barrels can take up space, and the barrels do get heavy. This would be why space and storage are important in this case.
For me personally, I don’t have the space to store them, and I certainly couldn’t move the barrels by myself. That would be my husband’s job, for sure. I live in a very rainy climate, so if I had the space, this would be a perfect option. This is also an excellent way to keep water for the summer when it doesn’t rain, and use it to water a garden or grass. I’ve seen many preppers do this and use the water for their gardens.
Another thing to keep in mind with rainwater collection is that it requires maintenance and upkeep. It will require filters, a way to keep rain gutters clean and clear, and more. It is definitely not a fix it and forget it method to water storage. If you are wanting a method where you can just buy everything and stack it somewhere, this is not the option for you.
Now that I have chatted about the methods of water storage, I’d like to talk about safety. Food and water safety is seriously important. Who wants to go through all the effort of storing something, only to have it make you sick? I personally don’t. In the event of an emergency, I’d really rather not be sick, let alone make myself sick by making bad choices. Which brings me to my next point.
Many people like to recycle. I’m one of them. If I can turn something old into something useful, why not?! I mean, it’s a huge money saver and it can be fun too. However, some people elect to recycle old milk jugs and use them for water storage. This just scares me, and I strongly discourage anyone from doing so. Yes, it’s recycling and we all love that, and it is cheaper too. Use an old milk jug and just fill it with tap water out of the faucet, and keep it on hand. However, milk jugs cannot be fully and completely cleaned. Nor do they dry out completely.
So there is leftover remnants of old milk in there, they smell, and taste terrible. If you try to clean the jugs out, you then have leftover soap to go along with the rotten milk. I really don’t feel the need to consume rotten milk and dish soap during an emergency, do you? The other issue with this is the jugs are biodegradable. Amazing for the environment, but really bad for long term storage, and just seriously unsafe. I don’t want to have a bunch of these in a closet and as they break down, start leaking water, rotten milk, and dish soap all over my closet or house.
I know storing water in jugs you already have is cheaper, which can easily make it a far more appealing method. But cheaper isn’t always better, or safe for that matter. Please do not do this, as it can harm you. Plus cause you a huge mess as the jugs break down too. I’ve worked hard to remodel my house, and destroying it with leaking water everywhere isn’t really part of my plan. So please, do yourself a favor and do not recycle old milk jugs for water storage.
Another thing I’ve been asked before is, can you store water in other containers, such as a bleach jug or something similar? You can, and they are more sturdy than an old milk jug. However, they are not food grade storage containers. If you are wanting to do something like this, it can absolutely be done. However, I would not consume the water in it. Because the chemicals in bleach will have leached into the plastic jug, and that is unsafe to be consumed. We’re going back to food and water safety again. What can be done though, and is a great option is using that for other water needs. For example, flushing the toilet. It is absolutely perfect for that. Pour some into the tank portion of a toilet, and flush away! These can be kept under the sink for easy access as well.
Now that we have talked about the methods of water storage and situations where each is the most useful, I hope this has helped you plan out your own water storage and how to go about it in the best way that will give you and your family a good supply of water, as well as a safe storage method and you’ll be ready in the event of an emergency. Happy prepping!
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