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water bottles

Who doesn’t like a nice refreshing drink of water? My father used to quote the old proverb attributed to Thomas Fuller, We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” We need water even more than we need food, and so water storage should be a crucial part of your family’s emergency preparedness plan. Ideally, you’ve got several gallons for each of you – A good initial goal is to store one gallon of water per person, per day of anticipated need, and for pets, one quart per day. You might have it stored in a 55-gallon drum, or in many gallon bottles. Maybe some of your water is even in smaller water bottles, because they are easier to take with you in a backpack.

Water stored optimally (in a cool, dark location, not directly on a cement floor, or commercially bottled water, etc.) can last for a long time. But depending on the type of bottles you use and how they are stored, they can crack, leak, degrade, and otherwise deteriorate. You definitely want your water to be safe and useable, with no bacteria or algae that would make it unsafe to drink. Also, the longer water is stored, the more likely it is to have an aftertaste. It only makes sense to check and rotate your water supply often.

If you’re storing gallon (or smaller) containers, replacing the water every six months is best to ensure it will be clean and tasty when you use it. For larger container (like 55-gallon drums) the water won’t need to be changed as often, but should still be checked about every six months.

Some water rotation can happen naturally by using your stored water regularly and refilling bottles as they are emptied. However, many people prefer to have a set schedule on which they empty their bottles and refill them. It can be a great idea to tie in the process of changing (or checking) your water storage with some other semi-annual event, such as when the time changes to Daylight Savings Time and back. Other people like to do it around their birthday and half-birthday. Whatever works for you, just do it! Hopefully, you are already changing the batteries in your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm on a semi-annual basis this way – you can just add checking/changing your water storage to the program.

When you empty the bottles to put in fresh water, you shouldn’t just pour the water down the drain. The water may not be fresh, but there are many productive ways to use the water. You can:

  • Water houseplants
  • Water your lawn or garden
  • Use it for cooking or drinking
  • Handwash dishes with it
  • Wash your cars
  • Let pets drink it
  • Use it to flush toilets
  • Fill the wading pool for the kids
  • Laundry – pour it in your washing machine and let the washer finish filling with fresh water

It’s time to rotate your water storage, so choose a date, put it on your calendar now and again in six months, be creative about how to use the water, and get it done! You’ll be glad you did.


How do these little buzzers affect our food?  Find out why When the Bees Disappear, the Food Disappears

Or more about water: Why You Must Not Store Bottled Water

Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732),, Web 4/4/13

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