Have you ever wondered how much water you should have stored in case of an emergency? It’s a question that often gets overlooked, but it’s an important one to consider. After all, water is essential for our survival, and during a crisis, access to clean and safe water may be limited. In this article, we’ll dive into the topic of how much water you should have stored for emergency situations, so stick around and find out all the important details.

When it comes to water storage during emergencies, the general rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon of water per person per day. This includes both drinking water and water for other essential hygiene needs. So if you have a family of four, you should aim to store a minimum of four gallons of water per day. It’s also important to consider the duration of the emergency situation. If you’re preparing for a 72-hour emergency, you should have a minimum of 12 gallons of water on hand.

But why is having enough water so crucial in emergency situations? Well, water not only helps to keep us hydrated but also plays a vital role in cooking, cleaning, and maintaining personal hygiene. During a disaster or crisis, the supply of clean and safe water may be disrupted or contaminated. By having enough water stored, you can ensure that you and your loved ones have access to this life-sustaining resource until the situation stabilizes.

So, in conclusion, having an adequate supply of water stored for emergency situations is essential for your safety and well-being. It’s recommended to have at least one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days. However, it’s always better to be prepared for longer durations and to have additional water purification methods available. Stay tuned for more tips and information on emergency preparedness in our upcoming articles.

Table of Contents

Why is it important to have stored water for emergencies?

Ensuring access to clean drinking water

In emergency situations, one of the most critical needs is access to clean drinking water. Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or power outages can disrupt municipal water supplies, making tap water unsafe to consume. By having stored water, you can ensure that you and your family have a safe and reliable source of drinking water, even when faced with an unforeseen event.

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Preventing dehydration

Dehydration is a serious concern during emergencies, especially when access to clean water is limited. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and even more severe health issues. By storing an adequate amount of water, you can prevent dehydration and ensure that you and your loved ones stay hydrated and healthy during challenging times.

Meeting basic hygiene needs

Water is not only necessary for drinking; it is also essential for meeting basic hygiene needs. During emergencies, maintaining good hygiene is crucial to prevent the spread of diseases and infections. Having stored water allows you to wash your hands, clean utensils, and maintain proper sanitation, decreasing the risk of illnesses and improving overall hygiene conditions.

Calculating water needs for emergencies

Determining the duration of potential emergencies

The first step in determining how much water you should store for emergencies is to consider the potential duration of the event. While it is impossible to predict the exact length of an emergency situation, it is helpful to consider the most likely scenarios for your region. Common recommendations suggest preparing for at least 72 hours, but it may be beneficial to plan for longer durations, such as one week or even two weeks.

Estimating water consumption per person per day

To calculate the amount of water needed for emergencies, it is crucial to estimate the daily water consumption per person. The general guideline is to store at least one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day. This amount takes into account drinking, cooking, and minimal hygiene needs. However, it is essential to adjust this estimate based on individual circumstances and preferences.

Considering additional needs for pets or infants

When planning for emergency water storage, it is vital to consider the needs of your pets or infants. Pets also require water for drinking and basic hygiene, so be sure to include an additional water supply for them. Similarly, infants may require specialized water, such as formula or breastmilk. Take these factors into account when calculating your total water needs for emergencies.

Factors to consider when storing water for emergencies

Choosing appropriate containers

The containers you use for storing water play a crucial role in ensuring its safety and longevity. It is essential to choose food-grade containers that are specifically designed for water storage. These containers should be able to withstand long-term storage and be made from materials that do not leach any harmful chemicals into the water. Examples of suitable containers include clean plastic or glass bottles, water storage barrels, or collapsible water bags.

Ensuring water storage is safe and sealed

Proper storage of water is essential to maintain its safety and prevent contamination. Ensure that all containers are tightly sealed to prevent any dirt, insects, or other contaminants from entering the water. It is also advisable to store water in a cool, dark place to minimize the growth of bacteria or algae. If using larger water storage barrels, consider using a siphon or spigot to easily access the water while keeping the container sealed.

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Rotating stored water periodically

Water should be rotated periodically to ensure freshness and prevent the growth of bacteria or algae. It is generally recommended to replace stored water every 6 to 12 months. A good practice is to mark the date on the containers to keep track of when the water was last replaced. When it is time to replace the water, use the stored water for non-potable purposes such as cleaning or watering plants, and refill the containers with fresh water.

Recommended water storage guidelines for emergencies

Storing at least 1 gallon of water per person per day

As mentioned earlier, it is recommended to store at least one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day for emergencies. This amount should cover essential needs such as drinking, cooking, and minimal hygiene. However, consider increasing the amount if you live in a hot climate, have specific medical needs, or anticipate longer emergency situations.

Maintaining a minimum of 3-day supply

A minimum of three days’ worth of water supply is a common guideline for emergency preparedness. This allows for a short-term disruption in water availability and provides enough time for relief efforts to mobilize. However, it is advisable to have a more extended water supply, especially in areas prone to natural disasters or where access to clean water may be more challenging.

Considering long-term storage options

While a three-day supply is the minimum recommendation, it is wise to consider long-term water storage options for more prolonged emergencies. These options may include larger water storage barrels or tanks that can hold several weeks or months of water supply. It is essential to regularly check and maintain these long-term storage containers to ensure the water remains clean and safe for consumption.

Best practices for purifying stored water in emergencies

Boiling water to kill pathogens

In emergency situations where the safety of stored water is questionable, boiling is the most effective method for purifying water. Boil the water vigorously for at least one minute to kill any harmful pathogens present. Let the water cool before consuming or transferring it to clean, sanitized containers for long-term storage.

Using water purification tablets or filters

Water purification tablets and filters are also valuable tools for making stored water safe to drink. These products can effectively remove or kill bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants that may be present in the water. Follow the instructions provided with the tablets or filters to ensure proper purification.

Utilizing sunlight for disinfection

Solar disinfection, also known as SODIS, is another method that can be used to purify stored water in emergencies. Fill clean, clear plastic bottles with water and place them in direct sunlight for approximately six hours. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun will kill most pathogens, making the water safe to drink. However, this method is not suitable for turbid or cloudy water.

Additional considerations for water storage

Accounting for special medical or dietary needs

If you or your family members have special medical or dietary needs, it is crucial to consider these factors when calculating your water storage requirements. Some medical conditions may require additional water, such as for diluting medications or flushing wounds. Dietary restrictions, such as a need for a low-sodium diet, may also impact the amount of water needed for cooking or preparation.

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Including water for cooking and sanitation purposes

While most of the water stored for emergency situations is allocated for drinking, it is important not to overlook the need for water in cooking and sanitation. Clean water is necessary for cooking food and cleaning utensils to maintain good hygiene standards. Plan for an additional supply of water specifically designated for these purposes.

Understanding local water sources for contingency plans

In some cases, stored water may run out or become inaccessible during emergencies that last longer than anticipated. It is essential to have contingency plans in place and be familiar with local water sources that may become available. This may include nearby ponds, streams, or lakes that can be used as a water source with proper filtration or treatment methods.

Tips for storing water in small spaces

Utilizing stackable water containers

If you have limited storage space, consider using stackable water containers. These containers can be easily stacked on top of each other, making more efficient use of vertical space. Look for containers specifically designed for stacking to ensure stability and prevent accidents or leakage.

Optimizing under-bed or closet storage spaces

Under-bed storage can be an ideal space for storing water containers, as it maximizes space that would otherwise be unused. Similarly, consider utilizing the space in closets or cupboards to store water containers. Just ensure that the containers are stable and do not block access to other essential items.

Using creative solutions like collapsible water bags

Collapsible water bags are a convenient option when storage space is limited. These bags can be filled when needed and easily collapsed for storage when empty. They are lightweight and flexible, making them ideal for small spaces or even for carrying in a backpack during evacuation situations.

Regular maintenance and inspection of stored water

Checking containers for leaks or damage

Regularly inspect the containers used for storing water to ensure there are no leaks or damage that could compromise the integrity of the stored water. Look for signs of cracks, bulges, or leaks, and replace any damaged containers as soon as possible. Failure to address these issues promptly may result in contaminated water or loss of your emergency supply.

Replacing water every 6-12 months

To maintain the freshness and safety of the stored water, it is recommended to replace it every 6 to 12 months. Over time, water can develop a stale taste and may become contaminated. By adhering to this replacement schedule, you can ensure that your emergency water supply is always fresh and reliable.

Cleaning containers before refilling

Before refilling containers with fresh water, it is essential to clean them thoroughly to eliminate any potential contaminants. Use dish soap and warm water to wash the containers, rinsing them thoroughly before filling them again. This practice helps maintain the cleanliness of the stored water and prevents any residual bacteria or mold from growing.

Alternative water sources during emergencies

Identifying nearby natural water sources

During extended emergencies, it may be necessary to rely on nearby natural water sources when stored water runs out or becomes inaccessible. Identifying these sources in advance, such as ponds, streams, or lakes, can help you prepare for potential water shortages. However, it is crucial to remember that water from natural sources may contain harmful bacteria or contaminants and should be properly filtered and purified before consumption.

Collecting rainwater with proper filtration

Another alternative water source during emergencies is rainwater. Collecting rainwater can be an effective way to supplement your stored water supply. Rain barrels or containers can be set up to capture rainwater, which can then be filtered and purified for safe consumption. Ensure that the collection system is clean and free from contaminants to prevent any waterborne illnesses.

Exploring options for water delivery or emergency supplies

In extreme emergency situations where there is a complete lack of access to clean water, exploring options for water delivery or emergency supplies may become necessary. Contact local authorities, disaster relief agencies, or community organizations to inquire about emergency water distribution points or provisions. These resources can provide temporary relief until normal water services are restored.


Being prepared with an adequate water supply is crucial for emergency situations. By following the guidelines and considering the various aspects mentioned above, you can ensure that you have sufficient water stored to sustain yourself and your loved ones during unforeseen events. Remember to regularly check and maintain your stored water, properly purify water when needed, and explore alternative water sources to supplement your supply. With proper planning and preparation, you can stay hydrated and healthy, even in the face of unexpected emergencies.

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By Chris Wright

My goals with PreppingSurvival.com are to help you prepare your family for every day life as well as the things that pop up like job loss, storm damage, store shortages, etc. The better prepared you are for life, the easier survival becomes. Learn to thrive, not just survive!