Tag: waterbrick

Store Water for Emergencies — Revived

collapsible water bag
2 gallons, carryable, collapsible

You have surely read many articles about why and how to store water for emergencies. The picture above came from one of our own earlier Advisories! But with hurricane season starting, an a tornado having just hit last week, it’s time once again to address this most important preparedness topic.

If some of this looks familiar, please jump to the bottom half of the Advisory where we address Buckets, bladders and bags! All new!

Why is storing water so difficult? Consider these possibilities:

  • Your household changes. What you needed to survive for 10 days a couple of months ago won’t be enough with the new baby plus your mother now living with you.
  • You move to a new home in a new location with a totally different climate. You used to be near the Washington coast. Now you’re in the middle of Oklahoma.
  • Another hurricane is threatening off the coast. Its storm surge will overrun your municipal water system — again.
  • Carcinogens and toxic contaminants have been discovered in the drinking water in your state.

The point? You can’t just check the box one time and be done with it! Having enough water in the right place at the right time is an ongoing challenge.

So, time for another look at how best to store water for emergencies.

Plastic bottles of water? Handy but . . . maybe not!!

Here’s another photo from my own camera. The bottle is from a case of water that has been sitting in our HOA office for about a year.

Deformed plastic bottle of water
Would you want to drink this?

Plastic bottles are NOT a good idea for long-term, emergency storage. (Not to mention the issue of plastic waste . . .) Plastic doesn’t stand up to weight or to heat. And that heat issue makes them particularly impractical for storage in the car.

On the other hand, high-quality BPA free plastic containers DO work for longer-term storage.

The following examples of storage containers come from Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links.

WaterBricks –In the past we’ve talked about WaterBricks – relatively expensive but of excellent quality and extraordinarily useful for apartments and condos where storage space is limited. They stack and fasten together for stability. The full-sized brick holds 3.5 gallons; the half-size holds 1.6 gallons. You can also get a spigot for a brick, so you could set it up on a counter for real dispensing convenience.  (I’d get more than one spigot.)

WaterBrick Blue Water Storage Container (6 pack) 3.5 Gallon

Last time I checked at Amazon, the WaterBricks were on back order. I soon discovered Saratoga Farms, another stackable container set, slightly different but just as useful. It’s “blocks” hold 5 gallons each.

Saratoga Farms 5-Gallon Stackable Water Containers (100 Total Gallons), 20 Pack, Blue, BPA Free, High Density Polyetholene (HDPE) with Built in Handle

Plastic containers for ice. Don’t forget to fill smaller-sized clean plastic containers with water and use them to keep your freezer tightly packed. (Be sure to leave plenty of space for the water to expand. And avoid containers marked “3” (for polyvinyl chloride, or PVC), “6” (for polystyrene, or PS), and “7” (for polycarbonate). Frozen plastic “cubes” will help save energy by maintaining the cold in the freezer, and if the power goes out they’ll give frozen foods a bit of a longer life. Finally, you can use the melted ice as a source of emergency water – for hygiene if not for drinking.  (Once-frozen water sometimes doesn’t taste so good.)

[16 Pack] Food Storage Containers with Lids, Plastic Food Containers with Lids, Airtight Storage Container Sets for Healthy Diet, Vegetables, Snack & Fruit (Small&Large Size), BPA Free & Leakproof

It’s probably best to recycle the water in your WaterBricks and your food storage containers every 6 months or so.

Aluminum cans – Good for 50 years!

Last year Joe and I participated in an Emergency Preparedness Forum north of Los Angeles and there we were introduced to canned water. Here’s a picture of one of our cans. You can buy cases of the stuff, easy to store. And here’s the most exciting thing – the water has a 50-year shelf life! 

Aluminum Can of Water
Canned water?

As you can image, these aluminum cans are relatively expensive. You can get them at Amazon – and they will be delivered. Here’s the link:

Blue Can Premium Emergency Drinking Water – 24 Pack

If you live in or near California, you may be able to get discounted prices on cases of Blue Can Water from my friend Patty Kirby. She introduced me to canned water, and she works with HOAs, businesses and other groups. (Obviously, an order big enough to fill a pallet (100 cases) would get the best possible shipping price.) Contact Patty directly: patty@BlueCanH2O.com

Water Barrels – Good for at least a year and probably twice that long!

Quite a few years ago we got a great deal on blue barrels for our volunteers. These days prices are considerably higher, but the need to store water for emergencies is still there, and maybe even greater. In fact, you may need more water than you did before!

Augason Farms Water Storage Barrel 55-Gallon Drum

Some thoughts to remember when it comes to water barrels:

  • When it’s full, the barrel weighs about 480 pounds. So – how are you going to get the full barrel to where you can use it? Not easily! That’s why you need a pump to get out a gallon or two at a time.
  • Be sure your barrel is of food-grade plastic. Give it a good clean by adding a couple of gallons of water, a cup of fresh chlorine bleach , and rolling it around until every surface has been exposed. Drain and rinse.
  • Find a good place to set the barrel because that’s where it’s going to remain once it’s filled. Keep it out of direct sunlight. Don’t place it directly on a concrete floor – put some boards down as a platform. And you may consider how to camouflage it. No use broadcasting that you have a lot of water available.
  • Once your barrel is clean, fill it with tap water as is. (Make sure the hose isn’t dirty!) But you may wish to add another layer of protection by treating the water you are storing with bleach or water purifier. The water storage recipe: add 6 teaspoons of fresh, regular unscented bleach to your 55 gal. barrel of water.

NEW: Buckets, bladders and bags to fill at the last possible minute.

Recently one of my LinkedIn groups was filled with water storage ideas. Here are several more containers for you to consider, based on recommendations from that group. Consider how HEAVY the various containers will be once they are filled with water! 1 gallon (in its container) weighs about 8 1/2 pounds.

(So the 2-gallon bag Joe is holding in the picture above weighs about 17 pounds.)

We own a couple of these, and have them tucked into our survival kits. Probably not too durable, but they have held up for us. Certainly convenient!

Stansport 2-Gallon Water Storage Bag
If your container doesn't have a spigot, consider how you are going to get the water out. This one has a spigot.

WaterStorageCube BPA-Free Collapsible Water Container 5.3 Gallon with Spigot, Camping Water Storage Carrier Jug for Outdoors Hiking Hurricane Emergency, Foldable Portable FDA Water Canteen (1-Pack)
Rigid container, bigger yet. Gets excellent reviews.

Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
This is a one-gallon collapsible container, which makes it easy to store until you want to fill it.

4-Pack Bundle | Reusable Transport and Storage Water Container Solution | 1-Gallon | Collapsible | Non-Toxic BPA-Free | Space Saver Solution | Proven no leaks
Comes in a variety of colors, and has a lid.

Freegrace Premium Collapsible Bucket Compact Portable Folding Water Container - Lightweight & Durable - Includes Handy Tool Mesh Pocket (Green(Upgraded), 23L (Lid))
Efficient. BIG when filled! (Bad illustration. Click below to get the full "picture.")

AQUATANK2 Water Storage Bladder (60 Gallon)
Another poor image for a dramatic piece of equipment. Power outage threatened? Lay the liner in any standard bathtub, attach the fill sock to the faucet, and fill the bladder to capacity, which takes approximately 20 minutes. A siphon pump is included to easily dispense the water into jugs or pitchers, making it easy to use your water every day.

WaterBOB Bathtub Emergency Water Storage Container, Drinking Water Storage, Hurricane Survival, BPA-Free (100 Gallon) (1)

I encourage you to get some containers like those above. Knowing that you have what you need when the emergency threatens will give you greater peace of mind. And you’ll have some credibility when you remind neighbors that they should be ready or already storing water, too!

Let us know if YOU have a favorite water storage container.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Don’t drink that water!


Drop of water from faucet

Stop! Don’t drink that water!

No matter where you live, you could experience a WATER EMERGENCY any day of the week. Why, in just the last couple of weeks, for example . . .

Boil water alerts have happened in Richmond, KY, in Detroit, MI and in Cocoa, FL. Where I live in Southern California, water main breaks took place in Reseda, Gardena and right on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.

These are not your extraordinary natural disasters.

We have all been sensitized to the need for clean water in a wide-spread emergency. We watched as the people of Beaumont, TX struggled without their water system for 10 days after it was flooded. And we are still watching the people in Puerto Rico for whom water of any quality is nearly impossible to get.

We understand what happened in these places, devastated by historic floods and storms.

Today we are taking a look at local problems.

Rather than a huge catastrophe, it’s more likely that we’ll need to be ready for a localized water problem.

Most of these local problems stem from two things:

  1. A water main break, a repair, or regular maintenance that shuts the system down
  2. An electrical power outage to a water plant or facility

Whenever the water pressure in the system drops, no matter from whatever cause, the water can be contaminated – mostly with dirt and/or bacteria.

What are the signs of danger?

You don’t need to wait for an official news announcement. Sometimes, accidents happen and you will know before the authorities do.

= Your water pressure drops suddenly.

If you notice an unannounced and dramatic drop in water pressure, we recommend you instantly turn off your water to protect the water already in your home’s system. You can always turn it on again later.

= Your water turns murky.

You may see unusual foreign matter in your water. That murkiness is called “turbidity.”  Don’t drink this water – and start thinking about a way to filter it to remove the junk. (More below . . .)

= Your water contains bacteria, parasites, etc.

Unfortunately, your water could contain all kinds of dangerous microorganisms and still look clear and clean. (My son came down with giardia when he got water in his mouth from a high mountain stream. He wasn’t even drinking it – but the resulting diarrhea put him into the hospital for 6 days!)

When water comes through a properly-operating system, these contaminants are removed. If the system fails, so does any guarantee of cleanliness.

That’s when you could get a Boil Water Alert.

If there’s a possibility that your water system has failed or your supply is contaminated, you could get a Boil Water Alert. Officially announced or not, you have several options.

Option One. Switch immediately to bottled/stored water that you know is clean. Use it for drinking, cooking, and washing. This is an emergency; that’s why you have emergency supplies! (If you haven’t put together supplies in advance, and you have to head to the store to buy them, you may be shocked to discover high prices, or worse, empty shelves.)

Option Two. Boil your drinking water until you know your water is safe. Bring water to a rolling boil, boil for one minute, then let cool down. Use this boiled water for drinking, brushing your teeth, preparing food, etc. Do NOT use your dishwasher, ice that was recently made, etc.

Option Three. Disinfect your water if you can’t boil it. One alternative is to add 1/8 teaspoon of regular, unscented household chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. Mix and let stand for 30 minutes before you use it. If you need to, strain cloudy water through a cloth or filter paper before you disinfect it.

You can also disinfect water with water purification tablets. Easy to carry and manage, they are designed to be used in bottles and canteens; just make sure they dissolve completely! (Keep reading for more on water purification.)

How long will you need to boil, disinfect, etc.?

The methods listed above will work well for a day-long water outage, or a week-end camping trip. However, depending on them for days or even weeks at a time will be trying, at best.

If you receive a Boil Water Alert, you can assume it will last for at least 3 days. It takes 48 hours for water quality test results to come back!

If the emergency is much bigger or more serious, you need to have plans for the long term. As you know, it’s recommended that you plan for a gallon of water a day for each person in your family. A family of four, for 3 days, needs 12 gallons. If the emergency lasts 10 days (which is what I think you should plan for), you’ll need 40 gallons. That is a lot!

Now, first off, I would assess my water supplies. Some of your water supplies may be of better quality than others. I’d plan to use “pure” water for drinking and cooking, but would consider using a lesser quality water – like from the rain barrel — for washing my feet. (Obviously, water that you know is contaminated with toxins or dangerous chemicals should not be used at all.)

Maybe your family of 4 doesn’t really need 40 gallons of pure drinkable water. But it still needs that much total water.

How to manage your need for gallons and gallons of water?

Here are a number of suggestions for sources of emergency water. I hope these are all familiar to you! But the question is, have you taken action to be sure they are available for your family right now????

Purchase and store bottled water.

You will be tempted to rinse plastic bottles that you’ve emptied of juice, milk, or whatever, and use them to store water.


You will find it nearly impossible to get these containers clean – and thus, the water you store in them will be suspect. Other options may cost more, but you won’t have to worry about ADDING to the emergency with tainted water!

Case of tottled water

One-time use plastic bottles of water are cheap, readily available, and easy to move, stash around the house, etc. You can keep regular cheap bottles for 6 months; after that, replace with new ones. (Reusing a plastic water bottle isn’t recommended. The cap collects bacteria from your mouth . . .) Square plastic bottles may be a bit sturdier, and are a lot easier to pack/stack.

A 24-bottle case of bottled water is about 3.2 gallons and weighs about 30 pounds. In my neighborhood I can find them on sale for less than $5. A dozen cases would just about meet your 4-person family needs.

Don’t stack these plastic-wrapped cases too high, because they will collapse and break.

Note: Half gallons of water a lot more convenient and efficient, if you can get them.

P.S. If you click on THIS image, you’ll go nowhere. I think you’ll do better to shop locally and bring home cases of water yourself!

Stack water using interlocking water bricks.

Having had thin plastic bottles break in my storage shed, I strongly recommend water bricks! (That’s why I’ve included a BIG picture here!) Yes, they are an investment, but are so much more reliable and far more efficient for storage!  They are of heavy plastic and designed to interlock and stack like Legos. (The manufacturer suggests stacking them no more than 4 ft. high.) Each regular brick holds 3.5 gallons, and weighs just over 30 pounds when filled. You can fill with clean water from the tap, seal, and store for several years. Or, add water preserver for more peace of mind.

You can even add a spigot to your order of bricks to make them easier to use.

A dozen or so bricks would work for our example 4-person family for 10 days. Click here to get price and details from Amazon.

Store water in a 55 gallon barrel

I’m referring here to barrels that are made specifically for this purpose. (Our neighborhood emergency team was able to make a great group purchase one year. Haven’t found anything like it since!)

You’ll need a spigot and a pump to get the water out of the barrel. And naturally, you won’t be able to move this water supply, since a full barrel weighs over 400 lbs. Find a good spot, place the barrel on a wood platform — a couple of level boards will do — so it doesn’t touch the cement floor, fill it carefully so as not to introduce any dirt, seal closed, and put a cover over it to keep it clean. Refresh your water once a year for best results.

One barrel could serve the needs of a 4-person family for 10 days. The barrel shown here comes as a kit, complete with a bung wrench (to turn the plugs), a hand-pump, and water preservative. Get more info here.

Fill the bathtub if you have time!

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that you DRINK the water you’ve run into your bathtub. After all, just how clean would it be if an emergency were called suddenly? Still, consider buying a bathtub liner designed for this purpose. Open it into the tub, fill from the faucet. Some models have a top to keep the water as clean as possible. Check out the link below to a full kit.

WaterBOB Bathtub Emergency Water Storage Container, Drinking Water Storage, Hurricane Survival, BPA-Free (100 Gallon) (1)

Scoop out of the swimming pool? Maybe not.

The water in your pool MIGHT be drinkable if you put some in a glass jar for several hours and let the sun evaporate the chlorine. Still, the chemicals in the water, not to mention ordinary dirt from leaves and dust AND whatever your humans leave behind . . . make this a bad choice for drinking and cooking.

If the electricity is out, then the cleanliness of the pool will deteriorate even more quickly because the pool pump and filters will stop working. Again, filter and clean it as best you can, and then use for purposes other than cooking and drinking.

Turn to collected rainwater, streams and other open sources of water.

LifeStraw personal water filter

Now we’re back to the problem of contamination. The only way you can safely drink even from a clear mountain stream is using a filter. The single-person LifeStraw is the standard – it will filter 1,000 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. You can get the LifeStraw many places for around $20. Naturally, get one for each person.

Not every family member will want to or even be able to use the LifeStraw, and it  won’t put water into a pot for cooking.
In this case, you’ll need a gravity-fed filtration system like the Katadyn or the LifeStraw family-size version. These hanging bags can filter several gallons of water in an hour. The image shows the LIfeStraw model, which filters 9-12 liters/hour. Click on the image to find out more.

With a filter system like this you’ll easily reclaim the 4 gallons a day you need to keep your family going for an extended period.

Purification tablets are a convenient back-up.

Water-borne diseases are the dangerous aftermath of many natural disasters, when people bathe, drink or eat food that has been exposed to infected water. Children are particularly susceptible to the bacteria and protozoa in unclean and unsafe water.

Fortunately, it is easy to add water purification tablets or liquid to your emergency supplies list. Potable Aqua, shown, is a well-respected brand.

At home after the boil-water notice has been lifted?

It will take some flushing to be sure your home systems are clean and ready to go back to work. Some recommendations:

• Flush hot water faucets for 15 minutes, and cold water for 5.
• Change your refrigerator water filter and any other water filters.
• Empty ice cubes, run through a cycle and discard those cubes, too.
• Run your dishwasher empty for a cycle. Then rewash everything that came into contact with water just before the boil-water notice.
• Discard and clean containers, then refill any water used in humidifiers, CPAP machines, electric toothbrushes, etc.

Be ready for a short-term or a long-term outage, and you’ll sail through. If you’re NOT prepared, or your neighbors aren’t prepared, something simple could turn into a real emergency, or even a disaster.

Take action today to store emergency water. It’s easy when everything is operating as it should. When the system is broken, it may be too late.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. I didn’t account for the water that pets may need.  Be sure to build that into your plan!

“Water, water everywhere . . . nor any drop to drink”


Ice in plastic containers

How many containers of frozen water would fit in your freezer?

This well-known quote comes from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” written in the mid-1700s by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His poem tells of a ship becalmed whose crew dies of thirst. In a big storm or other emergency, we are not likely to find ourselves in the middle of a salt-water ocean, but we certainly could find ourselves facing serious thirst with only questionable or clearly dirty water available. So once again, I want to address the issue of where to find drinking water. By now you know that you can live for days without food, but not long at all without water.

Here are  four more ideas for where to find water in an emergency:

1. Buy and store water that comes in regular commercial containers. You can buy water in all-sized bottles, cans, and foil packets. Store as much as you can, and refresh regularly. Avoid storing water in plastic directly on cement. According to the LA County Dept. of Public Health, cement can pass through the container into the water.

2. Capture water from alternate sources.

  • Your water heater holds 40-80 gallons, and if you have kept it reasonably clean by regularly draining off silt and calcium build-up at the bottom, it can be a life-saver.
  • The toilet tank (not the bowl) can be another source of water, it you haven’t used chemicals or colors in it.
  • A swimming or decorative garden pool might give you water for washing or even flushing the toilet.  Don’t drink it without treating it first.  (See below, number 4.)

3.  Still more ideas for storing water.

  • Freeze water in clean plastic containers and fill in spaces in the freezer, as shown in the photo.  Ice will keep your freezer cooler, save energy – and provide a source of clean water as the freezer defrosts in a power outage. Don’t use plastic that has had milk or meat products in it. And leave space at the top of the container for the water to expand. (I take mine out once in a while and dump the ice in a flower bed, then refresh the water supply.)
  • Buy large storage containers that fit the space you have available. If you can put a barrel outside, get a 55-gallon drum with spigot. If you don’t have that option, consider “WaterBricks.” An 8-pack of these 3+ gallon blue plastic containers stack and connect for compact storage of 28 gallons.  (Lying flat, they might fit perfectly under a bed.)

4. Don’t forget agents to turn dirty water into drinkable water!

  • The LifeStraw is a personal water filter that would allow you to drink from a puddle or stream.  Simple, light, easy to store, filters over 250 gallons of suspect water. Get one for every person, and every survival kit, particularly your car kit.
  • Water treatment tablets or drops are widely available. They take about 30 minutes to purify contaminated water. Be sure to follow instructions exactly.

Let us know YOUR good ideas for storing water for emergencies.  Just drop them into the comment box to share!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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