Storing Water at Home: How Much You Need (With Storage Tips!)

Anyone that’s experienced a natural disaster has probably seen the run on stores that happens before the storm hits. People rush every last store and gas station, clearing every last water bottle off of the shelves.

FEMA recommends that everyone has at least three days of water stored for each member of your home. Since services can be interrupted for weeks following a storm, you should store as much water as you can at home.

Let’s look at how much water you should be storing, how long it lasts, how to store it and more!

Storing Water at Home

Storing water at home is one of the most basic preparations that we can make. For some people, it’s also one of the most difficult.

Water takes up a lot of space, weighs a lot and can be confusing with all of the contradicting information that’s out there. Hopefully, this article can take some of the guesswork out of home water storage and give you some ideas to make it a little easier for you.

Why should we store water?

Just about any kind of natural disaster can cause water services to your home to be interrupted or contaminated leaving you without water until the services can be repaired. In some cases, this can be as long as several weeks!

There are entire cities, and even countries, that are running out of water around the world. We even have several cities that could potentially run out of water in the U.S. in the not too distant future. Poor city planning and population explosions are some of the main causes.

Reasons to store water:

  • Natural Disasters
  • Man-made Disasters
  • Water Service Interruption
  • Contaminants in the Water Supply
  • Broken Pipes and other Issues

How Much Water Should You Store

FEMA recommends that you store at least one gallon per person, per day. They also suggest that you store enough water for your entire family for a two week period.

This means that a family of 4 would need to store 4 gallons of water per day and 56 gallons to have a full 2 week supply! You can see how storing water for a long term disaster can really add up fast.

Storing 2 weeks of water should be the bare minimum. Once you get to that level, start looking for ways to continue to expand your water storage.

How much water does a person need each day?

Most people that are of average activity level need about a half-gallon of water per day. This increases as activity levels increase (like during an emergency).

People in hot climates, children, nursing mothers, and the sick need considerably more water than a half-gallon a day.

You can decrease your water requirements by staying cool and being less active. This is especially useful in a survival situation when water is limited.

What is the minimum amount of water to survive?

The minimum amount of water that you need to survive is 1 liter per day. This is the bare minimum that you need to keep your body functioning but it’s far from ideal.

Ideally, you would drink at least 64 oz of water a day to stay well hydrated.

How to Store Water Long Term at Home

Storing water is actually really easy when you think about. You just put water into a container and close it. There’s a little more to it than that, but it really isn’t all that hard to figure out.

Tap water is already treated and meets EPA standards so it’s the easiest to store. You can put additives in it or add some bleach to it if you really want to, but it’s overkill and not necessary.

Secondary water doesn’t have to be treated and doesn’t have to meet EPA standards for drinking water. You can still use it for water storage, but you should add 1/8 teaspoon of regular household bleach per gallon of water. This is enough to kill any bacteria in the water and should make it safe to drink. If the water is cloudy, you should add twice that much bleach.

Where should you store water?

Before you start filling your water tanks, you need to figure out where you’re going to put them.

You can store your water inside your house or outside, but you should try to keep water containers out of direct sunlight and try to keep them from freezing. Direct sunlight will increase algae growth in the water and freezing can lead to leaks when the water expands as it freezes.

If you’re storing them outside, you should cover them with a tarp to keep the containers as clean as you can.

It’s always good to place water tanks on 2x4s or pallets. This keeps dirt and water from pooling around the base of the containers and it helps keep insects off of them.

You can treat water with regular, non-scented, non-thicked household bleach. Add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. If the water appears cloudy or suspect you should double the amount of bleach.

How do you store bottled water?

Bottled water should be stored in a similar way to other food items. Keeping your bottled water in a cool, dark place will extend the life of the bottles and keep the water tasting its best for as long as possible.

Don’t store bottled water with chemicals like paint and gasoline or cleaning compounds. Don’t store bottled water in garages or sheds where it could be exposed to the fumes from chemicals and large swings in temperatures.

Get rid of any water that you suspect is contaminated or off in some way. In an emergency, keep the water but make sure you boil it or run it through a water filter before you drink it.

How long can bottled water be stored?

Bottled water can be stored for just about as long as any other water. The limiting factor is the plastic bottles themselves.

If the plastic bottles start to break or leak, you should replace them.

Water Storage Containers for Home Use

Water storage containers don’t need to be anything special. You can start storing water for free by just rinsing out old soda or juice bottles and filling them with tap water.

Stay away from milk jugs since they’re much weaker than soda or juice bottles.

What is the best container for water?

As far as I’m concerned 55-Gallon water storage tanks are the way to go for long term water storage at home. If you have the room to store them, it’s a great way to store water fast.

If you don’t have room to store larger water storage containers you can check out WaterBricks and Aqua-Tainers are good ways to start storing water. The good thing about these types of containers is that they’re designed to be stacked and can fit in smaller areas like closets and under beds.

The easiest and cheapest way to get started storing water at home is to clean out old soda or juice bottles and fill them up with tap water.

How long can I store water in plastic containers?

Any time that you start looking for plastic containers to store water in, you’re bound to hear about food-grade plastic. Most plastic containers have what looks like a recycling symbol on them with a number inside. This is what’s known as the resin identification code (RIC).

Plastic containers with RIC #2, 4, and 5 are safe for use with food and water and shouldn’t leach chemicals into your water even after long-term storage. RIC plastics #1 and 7 can be used but should be avoided if you can.

Plastics #3 and 6 should not be used as they can leach toxic chemicals into your food and water.

As long as you have a container other than #3 or #6 you’ll be okay.

How Long Can You Safely Store Water

Luckily, you can store water for as long as you want. It doesn’t ever really go bad.

The longer your water is in storage, the higher the chance that it’ll grow something that you’re better off not drinking. All you need to do is filter or boil your water before drinking it if you think that’s happened.

Does water go stale?

Water starts to taste stale after a couple of days to about a week. The good thing is that the stale taste doesn’t mean anything!

If your water tastes a little stale, you can just pour it back and forth between two glasses to reoxygenate the water and restore its taste. There are also additives that you can add to water that will prevent water from tasting stale for about 6 months, but these additives aren’t really needed and are kind of a waste of money in my opinion.

Can old water make you sick?

Old water can potentially make you sick, but it’s not because the water is old. It’s because something has contaminated the water over time and that contamination is what is making you sick.

Can stored water go bad?

Tap water is treated with chemicals to kill off potentially dangerous bacteria that live in water. The longer that water is stored, the more these chemicals are off-gassed into the air leaving less of the chemicals in the water to kill the bacteria and algae. When you drink the water these living organisms can make you sick.

How Can You Tell if Stored Water Is Safe to Drink

Whether or not your water is still safe to drink will depend on how you’ve stored it.

Water that is in sealed bottles should be safe to drink.

If you’re worried about the safety of the water, try to see if there is anything floating or growing in the container. When you open the container, smell the water to make sure that there aren’t any strange odors.

Finally, if the water looks and smells good, take a small sip and see if it tastes strange. If everything seems fine, then the water should be okay.

If you have any doubts about the safety of your water you should boil it or filter it before drinking it.

I have a Big Berky that I plan to run all of my water through before I drink it, so I don’t really need to worry about anything growing in my water while it sits in storage. To me, it’s the best option for filtering drinking water.


Water is vital to survival which makes storing water is one of the most important parts of preparation.

Start by storing 1 gallon per person per day for 2 weeks. This will give you a basic level of water storage in case some form of disaster causes an interruption of water services.

You can get started by just rinsing out old soda and juice bottles and refilling them with tap water. You don’t need any special containers or additives.