One gallon, per person, per day – and more for someone who is pregnant, elderly, a child, has unusual medical needs, etc. We have all been told we should store at least that much. And we know the more we store, the better, right? Most organizations and groups suggest starting with a small goal of enough water (per person) for 3 days, or 2 weeks, and build from there. I’m trying to do that.
I have quite a few gallons of water in my basement for my family. They are commercially-packaged, so I know they won’t need to be rotated as often as water I’ve stored on my own. But lately I’ve been thinking I should probably have some water stored to another place, where I can probably still get to it if for any reason I can’t get to the water in my basement. While it’s true that there are other places in our homes to get water if we need it (such as in a hot water heater or a toilet tank), personally, I’d rather store as much as I realistically can.
When my daughter moved, she emptied her nice commercial water storage bottles and gave them to me. I’ve been meaning to fill them with water – and here’s how I will do it:
- First, clear a spot to put the filled water bottles. It is recommended that we store water in a “cool, dark place,” but if you ask me, water stored anywhere is better than not enough water. My garage may not be cool (especially in the summer), but I think it will do to put my excess water. Water not kept cool is in greater danger of getting contaminated, so this water will most likely be used for non-drinking purposes, and I’ll plan to recycle the water about every 6 months. (Commercially-bottled water can last much longer than that – check the expiration date on the container.) Of course, I’m not going to waste that water when I recycle —I’ll use it to water plants or lawn, flush the toilet, etc.
- Gather the bottles and lids to wash them with hot soapy water. My bottles have only ever had water in them. It’s not recommended to use milk jugs and similar containers because even if they look clean it is extremely hard to get all the milk proteins off the inside of the container, and so they are much more likely to get contaminated. Shake the container so that the soapy water gets all the inside of the container, including any spout or handles.
- Next, thoroughly rinse out the containers to get rid of any remaining soapiness.
- Once the bottles and lids are washed, they need to be sanitized. All the containers and lids should be rinsed using a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per quart of water. It’s better to use liquid unscented bleach. Remember to remove any plastic or paper lid liners so that you can get all the contaminants. Put in the bleach solution then shake the container well so that the solution cleans all the inside of the container.
- Once the bleach solution is on the bottles and lids, leave them wet for at least two minutes then rinse them again with clean water. Leaving the solution in even longer is better. (Note: since I’m cleaning and sterilizing several bottled, I can use this same solution for each one – just pour from one to the other in turn. After all of the containers are sterilized, the bleach solution can be used in your laundry.)
- Rinse the containers with clean water to clear out any residual bleach.
- The containers can be air-dried, or, if you are going to refill them, just fill again with clean, safe water!
- In six months (about when the time changes again), I will use that water to water my lawn or the garden, and repeat the sanitizing process on all the containers.
While it is certainly easier to just buy gallons of water at a store, since I have these other containers I should have them full. Can you imagine if an emergency happens and I go out and see the empty containers in my garage, the ones I kept meaning to fill? Today is a good day to clean, rinse, sanitize, rinse, and fill all of them, and put them in a place where they will be readily accessible.